Ask the Professor

Kinsey McKinney, Professor of English

Kinsey, Professor of English, teaches composition and creative writing at Aravaipa campus and online.

“Do you like being a professor at a community college?” – Mariah Castillo 

Short answer: yes. It’s the best job in the world. Really. I get to help students embrace self-expression and improve their written communication skills. My co-workers are interesting and smart and generous. To top it off, I get to write and read (my loves). It’s the best. Topping it off, I teach face-to-face classes at the Aravaipa campus, which, admittedly, is pretty small. I love it. I love knowing all of the students, all of my co-workers. I love that most of my students come to the campus from local high schools and often with friends they’ve had since elementary school. They have strong roots producing vibrant classrooms. I don’t want to be anywhere else.

“Have you ever failed anyone, and if so, why?” — Lary Torrez 

Yes. Let’s back up, though; students fail in different ways. Sometimes (most of the time), the student simply stops participating at some point of the semester. I imagine she just gets overwhelmed by life, this class, other classes, and just decides to try again another semester, or maybe the student discovered college courses aren’t for her. This happens every semester, and I understand (As I write this, I recall a recurring dream in which I never completed a course. Shiver.). Much less rarely does a student who completes a course fails, but it happens. Usually, the student failed to submit a substantial assignment or just never seemed to grasp assignment outcomes and never embraced help, or the student might have blatantly plagiarized an essay. In the grander scheme, though, it’s OK to fail. I think a lot about a time I failed a paper. Perhaps as a writing instructor I shouldn’t mention that, but the F (my first ever) changed my life. It was a metaphorical slap to the face, letting me know I needed to work harder and try. I went on to embrace writing and my writing process, and here I am today. I’m grateful a professor finally gave me the honest feedback I needed. We all have a right to fail. Often times, it’s our most profound learning experience.

“How hard did you party in your college days?” – Jacob Medina 

First, definitions. I interpret “party” to be drinking alcohol with friends. I hope I’m right. The assumption that I did party cracks me up. Truthfully, I did have a good time as an undergraduate, but it’s not the partying I remember. I recall time with my peers and laughing, a lot. August 1988, I entered the University of Arizona as an undergraduate. Forty-some miles from home, I lived in the dorms with a young woman from Wisconsin I didn’t know, but with whom I got along fine (though as hard as I might, I can’t recall her name now). I recall drunk dorm mates passed out in the halls and the recounting of dangerous situations from the night before, usually at frat parties. None of those people seemed happy, though. I mean, maybe they were, but it didn’t come through loud and clear to me. My situation was different; on-campus and just off-campus lived friends I’d known since childhood. I came to college with friends and maintained those friendships to this day, decades later. We supported each other, looked out for each other, and while we might have gotten a hold of alcohol from time to time, none of us got crazy. Long story short, college can be fun, but consider with whom you spend your time. Those relationships have profound short- and long-term effects, both negative and positive.