Becoming a professor was never quite the plan for Carrie Nartker.
After earning an associate’s degree from MCCC in 1996, Nartker received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from the University of Toledo.
It was during her time in the master’s program that she discovered her love of teaching.
After deciding nearly eight years ago to return to the institution where she began her college career, the professor of English will be receiving this year’s Alumnus of the Year Award.
Nartker gives credit for her return to MCCC to her experience here as a student.
“I absolutely loved my time here. I had great professors, it was rigorous, and it was everything that people said a community college wouldn’t be,” she said.
While attending MCCC, Nartker was a Presidential Scholarship recipient. She also participated in the Writing Fellow program and served as an supplamental Instruction leader.
“Just being a part of the feel here was great. So I wanted to come back here and do for other students what my professors have done for me,” Nartker said.
Although giving back to MCCC students eventually became her goal, Nartker hadn’t planned to become a professor.
“I kind of fell into it,” she said.
She explained that people would always ask “what do you do with a bachelor’s degree in English?”
So she earned her master’s degree, and that’s when she found her love of teaching.
“I was accepted into the MA program where you teach, and it was just something that once I started doing it, I just knew, ‘Oh my gosh, this is great. This is what I want to do.’ ”
Even though teaching was not always an interest of Nartker’s, gender studies has been a longtime interest.
While earning her doctorate, Nartker’s cognate was in gender studies. “I’ve always been interested in gender studies,” Nartker said.
She attributes much of her interest to her mother.
“I’ve experienced discrimination as a female. It’s just been something where I was raised in a household where I had a mom who is very strong and would tell me I could do whatever I want, despite what anyone may have told me about being female. So I had a good role model in her.”
The Alumnus of the Year Award was established in 1996, and is given annually to an MCCC alumnus who has made recognizable contributions to his or her career, the college, and the community.
The award is based on four criteria: community leadership, service to the college community, honors and awards received, and distinction in the nominee’s field.
The Board of Trustees motion naming Nartker the award recipient stated:
“She possesses a tireless work ethic, is highly dedicated to both her profession and the community, and is a woman of great character and integrity who exemplifies the best of Monroe County Community College.”
Shelly Workman, a current student of Nartker’s, thinks the nomination comes as no surprise.
“She really deserves it; she does a lot for her students and for this college.”
Besides working as a professor at MCCC, Nartker does what she can to give back to the college community.
She has been a co-chair of the One Book, One Community organization for five years, and tries to attend any student club activities that she can.
“She’s brilliant,” said former student Eric Alexius.
“She lays her cards right out on the table for you. It’s clear to me that she’s passionate about her students, her subject matter, and that she’s passionate about teaching them,” Alexius said.
Nartker says her favorite thing about being a professor is her students.
“Seeing them get it, those are the moments that I love,” she said.
“I do think students who finish my classes by the end will see that, intimidating or not, I do genuinely care about them and their progress. It’s going to be tough, but I really do care,” she said.
Nartker will receive her award at this year’s Honors Night on Thursday, April 29.
“I’m really proud. This place has meant so much to me. This college has been a huge part of my life, and to be recognized … it’s just really humbling,” Nartker said.