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Picture of Grace Kessler

Grace, also known as one of the Beacons’ Babes, has been teaching in the GEW program since 2003, when she began as a TA.

Hailing from Cambridge, Massachusetts, Grace moved to the Los Angeles area when she was in 6th grade.  She graduated from a Pasadena all girls’ Catholic high school.  Because of her bicoastal upbringing, she calls herself a “Yankee Angelina.”

After Grace was married, she traveled to San Francisco where her first daughter Patricia was born and then moved on to Nicaragua and Honduras.  Political unrest drove her family back to Pasadena where second daughter Margaret was born.  She worked for many years in Los Angeles as a legal secretary/paralegal.  Her son Michael was born while she was working for a Japanese law firm in Little Tokyo.  Grace developed her interests in Latino and Comparative literature as she traveled to Nicaragua, Honduras, and then Puerto Rico.  She is most proud of her three children:  Patricia (former JAG, DOJ and private practice attorney), Margaret (artist, educator working for a San Francisco design firm) and Michael (sous chef in San Francisco).  She has four grandchildren who keep life interesting.

After raising her children, Grace had the calling to go back to school as she always enjoyed academia.  Grace attended Palomar College and then transferred to CSUSM where she stayed on to receive her Masters’ degree.

Because of her culinary interests, Grace focuses her GEW courses on a food theme because “food is a good common denominator.”  One of her favorite assignments is an extra credit assignment where she asks students to cook a meal, take a picture of it, and then provide a narrative.  Grace collects these photo/narratives and puts them into a Power Point presentation, which she displays at the end of the semester food party.  In this assignment students are able to connect their personal narratives with food and what they have learned about the food industry as a summation and enhancement of their classroom experience.

Outside of school, Grace is rarely available as she keeps busy by going to the YMCA for her gym classes, or attending her knitting guild, or attending many cultural events from the LA Phil to the San Diego Rep.  Grace also enjoys longs walks; in fact, she just completed the Surfing Madonna and Cardiff Kook 10Ks.  She also walks Moonlight to Beacon’s Beach in Leucadia three times a week with her friends, hence her granddaughter’s nickname of the Beacons’ Babes.

Endlessly fascinating, Grace reads voraciously and has been active in many social programs.  Her knowledge of Latino and Comparative literature enhances the GEW program’s emphasis on diversity and multiculturalism.  Grace recently met with one of her favorite writers Colum McCann (Transatlantic and Let the Great World Spin) in La Jolla specifically seeking information re Narrative 4 and his experience speaking at the 33rd First Year Experience and Common Reading in San Diego.  She sees a real connection between GEW and Narrative 4 as an inroad (much like food) for getting students to narrate their own and each other’s stories leading towards a universal of N4’s “fearless hope and radical empathy.”