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Connecting to the Creative Source
Our ancient, ancestral, creative intelligence is not stored in the intellect. Though intellect is a helpful tool used to process and provide language for direct experience, the road to inspiration is paved in awe – and awe is not thought in the mind, but rather felt in the spirit and the heart. A liberal arts education system is best when it embraces this truth and encourages a connection to the Self, Source, and Earth for the sake of inspiration, innovation, wisdom, and blissful well-being.
How I Came to Be a Professor
After completing my undergraduate degree in Multidisciplinary Studies - film, literature, anthropology, Eastern philosophy - my life became a series of adventures, odd jobs, nomadic wandering, and lots of thinking (so basically, the life of a writer.) For the next five years, I traveled, worked, and lived abroad in Europe, South America, & Morocco. One summer night at an auberge in Boumalne du Dades, while eating fresh figs and lounging on a pile of pillows underneath the starry sky, two lovely Moroccans serenaded me with live music and plans to build a kasbah on the moon. It was then I realized my life was a true fairy-tale - far surpassing any fiction of my creation, and I felt deeply blessed to be living such a poetic existence on this planet. Even so, I felt suddenly driven to devote myself to the craft of story-telling, and after an intense spiritual awakening (first disguised as a dark night of the soul) I buckled down and decided it was time to apply to MFA programs.
Back in the States while waiting to hear from graduate schools, I momentarily panicked & searched for a more traditional career path. My efforts were not futile; on the very day UNLV offered me a fellowship to their International MFA Program, the CEO of a well-known travel company called to offer me a public-speaking gig with perks included a $200,000 salary and an apartment in Paris.
I called an old friend and pleaded, "What do I do!?"
He stated frankly, "Jaclyn, this is a 'for love or money' moment. I'm the kind of person who would take the money. You know what you're going to do."
So I landed in Las Vegas. It wasn't easy at first - this city - but that's another story.
Part of my MFA fellowship involved teaching undergraduate students two courses per semester. It was the first time I'd taught, and I realized I had a knack for it. After I graduated, a colleague who taught in the Honors College asked if I could be his teaching assistant for a course over the summer. I agreed. All went well that summer until one morning when he grabbed me from the copy room and explained that one of his students was in the bathroom holding a razor blade to her wrist, threatening to take her own life.
I sometimes wonder if his future offer was a result of my intervention that day, because a week after I tiptoed into that bathroom and talked the distraught student back down to stability, my colleague informed me there would be a new Honors College Dean in the fall, and if he "planted" my CV on her soon-to-be desk, then when she came into office in the fall, she'd think I was meant to be interviewed to teach a course for the Honors College. I was in full support of this plan.
And it was a success. The new Dean interviewed me & allowed me to teach the first, multi-disciplinary seminar I'd ever created: Poetry, World & Spiritual Thought.
When the semester was complete, I asked the Dean if there was any way I could continue teaching for her. She apologized and said, "no"...though shortly after that rejection, I was sent e-mails from both she & the Assistant Dean: "We just received your student reviews. We've never seen anything like this. Don't find alternate employment yet. Hold on."
So through that serendipitous sequence of life events, here I am - an Associate Professor in the UNLV Honors College.
teaching in graduate school (assisted by Carl Sagan)
...and some pictures from my nomadic years
My Teaching Philosophy
Nietzsche acknowledged the will to superficiality – an embrace of the trivial and an avoidance of anything troubling, profound, or anomalous – as a natural tendency in the human psyche. The instinct toward the false & flighty protects against the chance that one might "get a hold of the truth too soon, before they have become strong enough, tough enough, artist enough to handle it." He further wrote: "It might be a basic characteristic of existence that those who know [the truth] completely would perish, in which case the strength of a spirit should be measured according to how much of the 'truth' one could still barely endure – or to put it more clearly, to what degree one would require it to be thinned down, shrouded, sweetened, blunted, falsified."
My teaching philosophy is inspired by my belief that college students are "strong enough, tough enough, and artist enough" for a peek beyond the veils. I do my best to create a classroom environment in which students feel safe & excited to explore inner-terrains, voice questions & uncertainties, and shape new, profound awareness. As writer Tom Cheetham brought to my attention years ago, it’s been a long time since many of us have really experienced the world. Instead, we experience a constriction of it, a selection of it, a lack of breadth & depth. We step out cautiously checking ourselves against ‘what is allowed’ and ‘what is known’. We throw a world out ahead of ourselves and move safely into it; we have found our way into a closed world and mistaken it for infinity. How can students create innovate, engaged, contemplative work when they are moving through a closed world? They cannot.
Intelligence is far greater than the ability to regurgitate information; it is the power to question & modify perception itself. In my multi-disciplinary seminars, I necessitate content mastery along with philosophical & creative rigor. Through experiential activities, lectures, readings, and discussions, students are encouraged to gently assess their own perceptions and dissolve beliefs that no longer serve their deepest, most truth-filled development.
If you're interested in reading my curriculum vitae or my formal/official teaching philosophy, feel free to contact me; on my CV you will find my university & department service, thesis committees headed, publications, conferences, and awards.
Click the leaf-art below to learn more about the classes currently in my teaching rotation, or scroll down to view some more pictures & videos from my classes and from my "Mindfulness in the Mountains" meditation program.
This is a special video made by myself and some students in March of 2020
And this is a video about the Mindfulness in the Mountains Program
Check out this beautiful short film by Nadine (created in quarantine) for my "Art of Story Telling" class... Nadine's film was accepted into the 54th Annual WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival and won a WorldFest Remi Award in the "Whimsical Shorts" Category! Nadine is an awesome human being, and I'm so impressed that she completed this project entirely on her own.
And finally, the most recent INCREDIBLE accomplishment by one of my students is this visual essay/short documentary called:
"Fiery Tempers and Cool Demeanors: Masculinity in Avatar: The Last Airbender"
by Courtney Parkinson
When my thesis student, Courtney, first pitched her final project to me, I liked the idea but had no idea how insightful, entertaining, and professional her documentary ultimately would turn out.
Tel. 702-619-6219 | firstname.lastname@example.org
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