Carolyn Varvel

General Education Instructor
The Art Institute of Colorado


"Don't be afraid to try." Carolyn Varvel , General Education Instructor , The Art Institute of Colorado

Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

I’d intended to become a biologist—I had my whole education planned out. Then I “volunteered” for a fifth-grade reading program as a college graduation requirement. That experience inspired me to change my major.

How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?

I’m an editor for authors, and I own a digital publishing business. I share examples of what I work on in the real world and we discuss how these examples affect clients, business partners, and bosses.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

Every assignment is preceded by an active learning activity involving the student in the writing project, a summarization lecture, ungraded practice, rough drafts for written projects that include peer reviews, and a paragraph on what the student intends to improve in the rough draft. On several assignments, students identify the skills they learned in the process of writing the assignment, and which skills they need to practice.

How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?

Peer reviews are essential to helping the writer identify how to re-word their work to communicate better with readers.

What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?

Don’t be afraid to try.

What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?

Have your writing edited by someone else to make sure you’re communicating clearly.