Alumni Interview — Malle Carrasco (’12)

With each year that passes there are more and more BIC graduates doing great work all over the world. At least once each year we hope to publish brief “Alumni Updates” where our alumni can tell us some about their post-BIC lives. In addition to these annual updates, we are posting interviews with some of our alumni. This month we are excited to post an interview with Malle Carrasco (’12). We hope you enjoy, and if you are interested in being interviewed for a future blog post, email us at BIC@baylor.edu.

malle

What year did you graduate from Baylor? What did you study?

I graduated in 2012 and received a BS in Biology with a minor in chemistry, with particular interest in the interface between physiology and ecology.

I understand you recently finished two years of teaching with Teach for America. Tell us some about that experience, what you learned, and how it might influence your future career goals. What’s next for you?

During my time at Baylor, I was a supplemental instructor for physics. Julie Cash was a great leader for us, and I really enjoyed working with my peers and seeing them succeed. Alongside that, I had done some research with graduate students at Baylor as well as in Colorado, and I came to realize many of them did not take the “traditional” undergraduate to graduate school pathway. I wanted to grow and develop more before I continued my education, and when I heard about Teach for America (TFA), I knew I had found an organization that would help me grow into a better leader as well as make an impact on students’ lives.

When I got to work, however, I realized one thing was painfully true: learning to teach is difficult. Especially when most of us are accustomed to being fairly successful at what we have been doing a majority of our lives. The first semester, I honestly wanted to quit just about every other day. I wanted to do any job that would let me clock in and out with no responsibility once I got home. However, I often remembered my high school physics teacher arriving at school at 6 am to tutor; or Dr. Long in the BIC department making time in his busy schedule to hear your hearts as you navigate your future choices. Thinking of them, I knew that I had a responsibility to give back because so much had been given to me.

Although the learning and growing curve was steep, there were several sweet lessons I learned:

Community is a non-negotiable: In the “real world,” I had to learn to be much more intentional and one-on-one because I could too easily drown myself in work and find myself resenting this place I had no established roots in. Once I made my “non-negotiables,” I learned to balance the never-ending to-do list with community and fellowship.

Grace is reciprocal: I was sometimes a poorly prepared and impatient teacher. My students were sometimes disrespectful and immature adolescents. Despite our imperfections, they taught me best what it is to start fresh the next day, the next class, the next moment.

Love is patient: Loving my students often meant working late hours trying to complete lesson plans, grading, or calling parents. As I was in the learning process, I needed to be patient with myself as I stumbled along towards progress, but most of all I needed my students to be patient with me. We had some tough challenges to overcome, but they continued coming to class, stoking their natural desire to learn, and worked through challenges they had before them. In the growth, we laughed, we cried, we were patient with one another.

I have cherished these lessons learned and felt a sense of satisfaction and belief I was making a difference. This coming year I will be attending the University of Memphis as a doctoral candidate in Biology. Teaching 9th graders, a special and awkward time in our lives when we crave so much community, grace and love, I learned that I needed those things as much as everyone else around me, and it has given me a new perspective about how I will interact with coworkers, professors, and the community while I’m in school again. My experience as a corps member allowed me to mature and grow as not only a leader but also a decent human being.

How has your BIC education influenced your life/work since leaving Baylor?

BIC comes up often when I talk to people about my Baylor education, because it helped me appreciate topics that I had not preferred previously. I didn’t enjoy History because I didn’t naturally find it as relevant to my life as science or math. Through our readings, discussions, and community, I was able to use past peoples and cultures to process my current life and experiences. When I started teaching Biology, my daily task was: how do I make this interesting and relevant to a group of fourteen year olds. Whether it was creating games to mimic processes, dressing up as historical scientists, or changing note-taking styles to activate their minds and bodies, I was given the task that my BIC professors had: make it matter.

Do you have a favorite memory from your time in BIC?

I have many favorite memories from BIC! It’s an eccentric group. If I had to pick one, it would probably be the very first class, in which Dr. Hanks welcomed us with a huge smile, addressed us as colleagues, and then jumped into a discussion about language. I knew the people in the room would challenge me, but the way we were spoken to made me feel like it would be a challenge worth taking on.

Is there something you learned in BIC that still sticks with you today?

That music is not a universal language (especially after hearing some Australian aborigine’s music). It taught me to consider perspectives.

What are your goals for the future?

After my doctorate, my general goal is to leave with the knowledge and skills to effectively conduct and communicate relevant scientific research in order to help others understand the creatures we share space with.

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