Dr. Clifton Corkern
B.S., Zoology, Southeastern Louisiana University
M.S., Biology, Texas A&M University
Ph.D., Biology, Texas A&M University
Students Inspire Prof
For nearly 20 years, Dr. Clifton “Corky” Corkern has taught at colleges and universities from Maryland to Alaska, Texas and back. “Aims students are,” he said, “among the brightest as any place I’ve ever taught.”
His favorite things about teaching at the community college level are the small class sizes, the diversity of the students and the enriching effect both have in an educational environment.
We seldom have more than 24 students in a class, and by the end of the semester they’re like family,” he said.
“That’s opposed to a class with 200 students, where you just have to aim for the middle and hope that people on either side are flexible enough to get what they need out of it.”
While many of the principles of biology, anatomy and physiology remain static, related scientific developments are being released at breakneck speed. “A student will come in and say, ‘Did you hear about AmGen’s latest use of monoclonal antibodies?’ and we have a discussion on that,” Dr. Corkern said, adding that the Human Genome Project, discoveries in cell biology, flu vaccines and major ecological events keep the subject matter fresh and relevant. “This kind of discussion gives students the opportunity to be analytical in their thinking -- assessing and applying their knowledge. That’s part of the delight of teaching for me.”
Another delight is when he sees students break through initial barriers. “Students are more distracted today because their lives are busier,” he said. “But what’s interesting about it is that you have to make those choices as to what you’re going to focus on. To see them discover the value of what they’re doing and make the decision to pursue their academic endeavors with determination and still be able to handle other issues like family and work -- finding a way to get it all done -- it is very inspiring to me.”