Windward Community College has the kind of atmosphere that makes people want to come back. Many faculty members at WCC started out as students. Desi Poteet, Ian Masterson, Jody-Lynn Storm, Carla Rogers, Bryce Myers, Bonnie Beatson, Rob Molyneux, Karla Silva-Parks and Ron Loo are just a few.
English instructor Desi Poteet said that her favorite thing about teaching is being able to help support students in making their dreams come true.
Just out of high school in 1976, Poteet was volunteering at the state hospital next door to the WCC campus. One day, she saw a registration sign for WCC; she started classes that fall.
Due to limited course offerings, she enrolled in SOC 100, SOC 200 and an intercultural communication course, but withdrew from the sociology courses. Feeling restless, she went to the mainland to work and write, then came back to WCC more focused. She graduated with her associate’s degree in 1979.
“Take a break after high school and get a job,” Poteet said. “Then come back. You will appreciate school more.”
After leaving WCC, she said she spent some “barefoot and pregnant” years, during which she held many interesting jobs. She was at KHNL-TV for a few years working her way up from a temporary hire position to full-time. She was a licensed massage therapist for a time and worked as Hawai‘i State Representative Cynthia Thielen’s office manager. It was there that she was encouraged by Thielen to return to school to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
While at UH Mānoa, she met English professor Ian McMillan. He became her mentor and advisor and encouraged her to pursue her love of writing. She received the English department’s Myrle Clark Award with distinction in 2005, which is awarded to outstanding undergraduate and master’s students in the creative writing concentration. She earned her master’s in 2007, graduating with distinction. In 2016, she earned a master’s of fine arts in professional screenwriting from National University.
Bonnie Beatson, WCC marketing and public relations director, said: “For me, it is a great honor to work at the place where I got my start. After much adversity, my confidence and knowledge has grown to include a master’s degree in communication. Windward is the impetus for my success, and it is all because of the wonderful people here. Windward is a very healing place.”
WCC art instructor Bryce Myers grew up with a mother and grandmother who were artists. They provided him with lots of opportunities to explore the art world, and he developed a deep love for art at an early age.
“I wasn’t a good student,” Myers said. “I couldn’t sit still with a math book for two minutes but could sit still for hours working on an art project.”
He didn’t think that he would ever go to college but when he found out he could take art classes without pursuing a degree, he enrolled. After two semesters, he found the Hawaiian studies classes and was hooked. His counselor then convinced him to go for his degree because he was on the dean’s list and was already halfway there.
“I totally believe it was a transformative moment for me,” he said. “I came to WCC as a non-student and left going to get a master’s degree.”
After helping a student with a project, he knew he wanted to be a teacher.
“I want to help other academic black sheep,” he said.
by Cynthia Lee Sinclair, Ka ‘Ohana Staff Reporter