The son of an Air Force officer, American River College Professor John Bell was well-traveled early in life; though he refers to Albuquerque where he gets to see mom, as home. As Spanish is commonly spoken in his home town, it seemed like a straight forward subject in which to earn a bachelor’s degree in at the University of New Mexico.
However, leadership through politics and writing were his passion; so he continued his education to receive a Master of Fine Arts at Wichita State University, Kansas.
“Not too many universities offered such degrees in creative writing then,” Bell recollects. “There were but a handful of programs, though now there are hundreds throughout the country. A student with the degree makes an attractive employee because that student gains exposure to other forms of thinking that are critical and involve looking into how the structure of society can force some to begin their lives seriously disadvantaged while others are more fortunate, and how we can make a society from these great disparities.”
What Bell likes best about teaching English to his students is that “students develop their ability to communicate in both the written and the spoken word – two things every employer wants. In addition, even if people don’t think literature is useful, it teaches people how to understand the plight of others.”
“Jonathan Kozul’s ‘Fire in the Ashes‘ for example, is a book that we are reading now in college writing,” Bell begins. “The book looks into the plight and resiliency of poor children who overcame poverty after government housing was no longer available.”
Bell’s advice to students on the academic path is to “consider participating in society as much as you can by taking leadership positions,” said Bell. His path lead him to be an Arkansas college he agreed to a two-year appointment as faculty senate president, then spent five years as an academic senator and now is in his fourth year as co-chair of the English Department at American River.
Karen Hansen M.S. Earth Sciences, has been an educator and consultant who is currently an analyst regarding land and other public information records. She lives and works in Sacramento, CA. She has been writing about earth and the environmental sciences for Examiner.com since May of 2010. Find her work in several sections of the publication. You can find her work at SF Solar Energy Examiner, SF Environmental News Examiner and Environmental News Examiner