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Skylar Vanden Boosch February 12, 2021

Difficult times requiring a new direction is Karen Marks’ specialty. Marks is the new biology instructor at DMACC’s Boone campus. 

“As a student, I had a lot on my plate — I was working, a student-athlete, and serving part-time in the military. You can imagine that there were times that were really stressful or where school felt impossible!” she said. “But I had such wonderful instructors who would encourage me. Don’t get me wrong, I still had to do the work, but they were willing to meet me halfway and help as long as I was really trying. I hope to emulate that now that I’m teaching.” 

Over the summer of 2020, while living in California, Marks recalled seeing a job posting for a biology instructor position at DMACC. With family already living in Iowa, the opportunity presented itself. She was hired soon after and began teaching in the fall semester. Despite the challenges virtual classes presented, Marks adapted. 

“Luckily, I have decent technical skills so prior to the pandemic I was already heavily using Canvas for in-person classes. Since then, I’ve quickly learned to make and edit my own lecture recordings and have gotten the hang of Blackboard quickly,” she said. 

Marks attended Modesto Junior College, San Francisco State University, and the University of San Francisco. Her studies were focused on biology and research focused on disease ecology and animal behavior.  

Prior to DMACC, she taught primarily at Reedley College in Reedley, California, for four years. Prior to that, she was a teaching assistant and “high-end private tutor” for two years. She also served as a California Army National Guard sergeant in a unit trained for mass casualty HAZMAT response. Marks said what inspired her to teach was how her community college instructors lit that spark.  

“It’s been great!” she said. “But I’ll admit it has been a bit of a strange start. I haven’t had a chance to really meet many people in person since everything is still shut down or limited, but so far my interactions with everyone have been nothing but positive. It gives me a good feeling for when we do finally go back to regular in-person operations. I can see DMACC being my new home.”