Miina McCown/The Broadside
If you’ve ever decided to take a multicultural or women’s literature class, a technical or multimodal writing course at Central Oregon Community College, there’s a good chance you’ve had the opportunity to be instructed by Chris Rubio, the well-rounded and experienced humanities professor who will now be retiring after 12 years of teaching at COCC as well as a total of 33 years of teaching experience.
Rubio had begun her teaching career in Sacramento, instructing for 21 years at American River Community College before deciding to move with her spouse to what they thought would be a retirement home in Sisters.
However, in June of 2009, Rubio started working part-time at COCC before soon becoming a full-time faculty member, initially teaching mostly writing and pursuing opportunities in online teaching since she had past online teaching experience. Ever since her second year, Rubio has taught online courses and has offered at least one online class every term for the last 12 years.
Closer to the beginning of her career, Rubio noted that she had started with teaching mostly writing classes, including technical writing. Then in her second or third year, it was when she started instructing several literature courses as well, areas of interest mainly consisting of women’s and multicultural literature.
Rubio remarked that one of the first things she noticed on campus was the kindness of faculty and others.
“I can still remember my first week here when I went down to the bookstore for something, and I was welcomed by a bright friendly person working at the copy center who said, ‘you will see that people on this campus are so friendly; it doesn’t matter where you go or what department.’ And I’m telling you 12 years later that it is absolutely true, and it was proven to me time and time again.”
Rubio also remarked that a big part of why she enjoyed her time on campus was that from a faculty perspective, there are numerous opportunities to be creative. If she had an idea, she felt comfortable with going to someone with the idea to pursue it. Rubio discussed that she had partnered with another faculty member on a free technical writing textbook that is still being used to this term by many of her colleagues as well.
“I think all of these opportunities [to be creative] have made me a better teacher and has made hanging in there for 33 years doable,” she stated.
This even allowed her the opportunity to create an entirely new course for the Humanities department, the Introduction to Multicultural Writing (HUM 255). The Introduction to Multicultural Writing course focuses on diversity and literature as well as contemporary multicultural literature in the US. One of Rubio’s favorite parts of teaching this course was hearing from students that they had been introduced to new authors or books all thanks to her class.
While it could be a tiring career at times, another rewarding part of Rubio’s job as an instructor was seeing the growth of students, especially those who began in the lowest level courses but were able to move up with a small push of motivation. Rubio mentioned that one student, in particular, had even gone on to earn his master’s degree after his rough start.
“It was early in my career at COCC, but I will never forget him or his story. I think most faculty would tell you it’s always like that where a student may come in and lack confidence in themselves, or they’re not even sure college is right for them, and it might not be. So I think my fondest memories are among those times and those students with whom I’ve been able to help believe that they belong in a college classroom and have the skills to succeed, and then I get to watch them grow.”
As for reasons for her choice to retire now, Rubio has made the choice, not around her feelings toward teaching, but her exploration of other activities in her life. While still relatively young, she feels as if she would like there to be a little more room in her life for something else to enter, such as taking up painting or writing a children’s book.
Tony Russell, Associate Professor of English and Chair of the Humanities department stated that Rubio would be greatly missed, as well as her most notable strengths in promoting “fun, compassionate and respectful” learning environments for students and staff to learn from one another’s differences and to cherish diversity.
Russell remarked, “At some point, we all hang up our spurs, but that doesn’t mean we’re fading into the sunset. It is a tough thing to see a beloved educator and valued colleague leave, but at the same time, we’re excited for Chris to open a new chapter in her life and to experience new adventures.”