COLA English and writing instructor Kristi Perkins grew up serving others. In grade school, when she was short on humans to serve, her parents noted she brought home every injured animal she could find. She would feed and nurse all the wounded birds, bunnies, dogs and cats back to health.
The urge continued through college, where she proposed projects that involved large-scale homeless housing plans and other “enormous efforts to save the world,” she says.
“I was a bit of a dreamer,” says Kristi. “But I was always directed toward making the world better and helping others in the process. I believe that serving others is the most natural thing about me and it feels more like instinct than work or effort.”
Kristi also found that she had a gift and a love for writing. Kristi earned her bachelor’s degree in English Literature at Arizona State University before returning for a master’s in English with a specialization in Rhetoric and Composition. Today, Kristi most frequently teaches English 101 and 102, at GCU, as well as developmental writing courses. She recently began teach UNV 101, the new University Success course, which is aimed at providing new GCU students with the writing and study skills they will need to succeed in college.
Kristi knows first hand about the challenges of juggling a job and school. As a student, she worked full-time in an infertility/gynecology medical practice and attended courses at night. The job gave her a vital outlet for her desire to serve others.
“Because the medical practice helped couples with fertility issues, it was vital to encourage and help our patients remain upbeat and positive during very difficult times,” she says. “I was very inspired by the physician I worked with. He was a great leader and always greeted his patients by holding a hand or giving a hug. It was truly an honor to serve beside him and learn that even the smallest amount of respect, love, and kindness can mean the world to someone else, especially those in need of it most.”
After graduation, Kristi joined GCU as a part-time adjunct instructor while working as a Courtroom Clerk for Maricopa County Superior Court. She soon moved to the Arizona Supreme Court, where she served as a technical/software trainer for all court staff and Judicial Officers.
“My work with both courts was very rewarding and allowed me to continue to develop my own writing skills through both technical and legal arenas,” she says. “I was lucky to have the motivation and energy to also continue teaching each semester in the evenings, both to begin developing my teaching skills after college, and to remain a part of the changes in the field of English and writing studies.”
As a full-time faculty member, Kristi enjoys combining her love of writing with her focus on helping others.
“I began to realize the power of writing and communication when I taught my first official course here at GCU,” she says. “I gained so much joy knowing that my students would find writing to be a useful skill in later college courses, and also in life. It is truly pride in the service of others when I see my students learn to express themselves in ways they were not confident with, or possibly never believed they were ‘good at’.”
According to Kristi, the most rewarding part of her job is the knowledge that she can help her students, even in a small way, as they move through their academic journeys.
“I appreciate being a part of this space where they can regroup, learn, grow, and gather skills they will use so much later in college and life,” she says. “Additionally, with the smaller class sizes at GCU, I am able to get to know my students very well and be aware of problems or concerns almost immediately. I think it helps the students to know that someone cares for them on an individual level, both as a GCU student and as a young adult.”
Kristi enjoys cooking and playing with her three Chihuahuas. She admits to obsessing over cooking for the past two years, and finally creating dishes that the Chihuahuas will even eat.
“I also spend a great deal of time with my family,” she says. “My parents, nieces, nephew and brother are a very important part of my life, and we make time to get together at least one day each weekend to share a meal or celebrate a family event. I’m very grateful to have my family here in Arizona and for the support they provide.”