Why I Teach: Carole Barrowman

As a professor of English and the director of creative studies in writing at Alverno College since 1987, Carole Barrowman’s retirement was on the horizon.

That is, until she became one of the driving forces behind Alverno Accelerate, a flexible adult learning program for women and men to earn their bachelor’s degrees in three years or less. To date, 14 adults have earned their degrees through Accelerate since its August 2020 launch.

What does it mean to be a lead designer of Alverno Accelerate?

A few of us faculty sat down a few years ago and asked: What would be the ideal program that will eliminate as many barriers as possible to a student’s success? We take all of your credits and help you figure out how you can finish. We listed all of the obstacles that we can do something about as educators, and we problem solved. We figured out how to organize a program around outcomes that help develop a successful leader in the world. It’s very exciting.

Why do you teach?

I teach because I like to continue learning from my students. Teaching has helped me keep all of the other parts of my life in harmony, such as raising a family. Teaching has helped me have room in my life to be a writer, to be a creative. Teaching is a melody that holds the other parts of who I see myself together. Teaching is at the heart of everything that I do.

What do you love most about teaching English and creative writing at Alverno?

The best part is our students. I get to spend all of my time with students and books. I like to teach creative writing classes because I get a lot of the students in these classes who say things like, “Oh I used to be really creative, but I am not really creative anymore,” and I take that as a challenge. Let’s find that creative muscle and expand it and stretch it a little more. I get a lot of joy out of watching and seeing our students rediscover their creative side.

In addition to her academic career, Barrowman is a successful novelist, having published nine books. She loves sharing her passion with students. “Writing is an art and a craft. I help my students become writers of all kinds.”

What do you hope your students take with them when they leave your classroom?

A much stronger sense of what they can do, a much stronger sense of their abilities. But even more than that, a passion for their own standing up for themselves. I also hope they have read some good books and might keep reading.

What has being an educator at Alverno taught you?

It’s taught me humility and patience. The world has some amazing women in it, and I have had a chance to touch their lives just a little bit. Also, time and your passions are really important. Choose to do something that gives you time and allows you to follow some of those passions.

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