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Faculty Highlights

Kristin Bebout

February 2019

Interview by Elizabeth Roush

 Kristin Bebout

What is your “teacher story”? Why did you decide to teach, and what brought you to CSUSM?

I wrote a textual analysis essay in my first year writing class on the short story, “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin. My professor told me that she had never thought of or heard an analysis of the essay like I had written. She said I had a gift for writing and suggested that I look into submitting my essay for publication. The validation of my writing was so impactful to me, but even more so was knowing that she saw my potential and that I had an idea that was worth something. I knew I wanted to be on the other end of that exchange one day, to pass that joy along to others. I earned my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees here at CSUSM, so teaching here is like coming home! 

What is your favorite part about teaching?

My favorite part about teaching is watching students gain confidence in their abilities. I love the lightbulb moments when a student gets an idea and runs with it! There is nothing better than when a student is proud of their writing. It reminds me of the joy learning has always given me and that education is life-changing!

Do you have any favorite memories from teaching college writing?

On the last day of the first college class I ever taught, I told my students that they were my first college class. My students applauded me and told me to keep teaching. It was partly out of silliness, but it meant a lot to me and validated how much I love teaching. It makes me smile every time I think about it!  

Do you have any books that you would recommend?

There are endless books that I would recommend and way too many to name! I love revisiting books that I read earlier in life because I always get something new out of them.  One of my favorite books to reread is Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. I love everything from Toni Morrison. Right now I am reading Margaret Atwoods’ The Heart Goes Last, which is turning out to be fascinating!  

Besides teaching, what else do you enjoy doing?

I love film. One of my favorite things is to have a night in and watch movies or binge-watch a series on Netflix! I am a proud dog mom and – believe it or not – my dog likes to watch with us! I like doing things that are creative and tactile. Sometimes that’s doing a DIY project, sometimes it is painting, but lately it is cooking!

Besides becoming better writers, what do you hope your students learn through your class?

I want my students to get to know themselves and to learn that their ideas matter and are valuable.  It is easy to feel like our voices get lost in a sea of competing ideas, especially now with the constant stimulation and noise of social media, but I want students to learn to carve out their space at the table and to know that they have every right to speak their truth and make their voices heard.  

What advice do you have for GEW students?

Come to office hours! Take advantage of the resources you have on campus and find a community on campus where you can be yourself.  Don’t be afraid to take risks in your writing. The more effort you put in, the better you will do and the more pride you will feel when you succeed.