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Drop-out to doctorate: KPC AmeriCorps volunteer comes full circle

Posted: Wednesday, February 26, 2003

It's not common for someone with 37 years experience as a professional educator to come out of retirement and volunteer on a daily basis teaching English as a second language. But that's Franklin Adams' story, and KPC's Learning Center staff is happy to have him on board.

Adams comes to KPC with a vast education and plenty of life experience that makes him highly qualified to help students study for the GED and learn the finer points of the English language.

"I don't quite remember whether I quit or was kicked out of high school, but I joined the Navy in 1945 just as the war was ending. After two years of military service, I got my GED from Veteran's High School in Philly on the G.I. bill," Adams said.

Adams says his education took a few wild turns. Work in a farm supply company led to a year in agricultural college. He drove truck, started a family and enrolled in Johnson State Teachers College in Vermont. He continued to drive truck on weekends and in the summer to support his four children.

Over the next decade, Adams continued to work on his education and taught at many prestigious colleges such as Penn State, the University of Michigan, Wayne State University and Goddard College. He landed a position with the Vermont State Department of Education. His education had topped out with a doctorate in botany and life was good.

Life threw a curve at Adams in 1997, and a personal crisis took him to Seattle and then Ketchikan. Time and circumstance led him to Kenai, and the AmeriCorps position at KPC.

When asked why KPC, Adams said it's called "payback." He recalls that an advisor to his Ph.D. program went to great lengths to help him. When asked why, she said, "I'm doing this for you, so you can do it for someone else."

Adams said he likes KPC because it's "real" and he likes his job because he gives his students incentive to keep learning. He said he feels he still has something to offer and that his students seem to like him.

"They give me an incentive that seems to pull me along in life. I've found that the ashes are still glowing in terms of what I have to give and I'm glad to be here."

Who's Who at KPC

KPC's Who's Who highlights the faculty and staff who work hard to make KPC a college of first choice. This week KPC introduces the professor of petroleum technology.

Who: Allen Houtz

Academic background: Houtz received a bachelor of science degree from Washington State University in 1968 and a master's of science degree from the University of Connecticut in 1991.

Time in Alaska: "I spent the summer of 1963 at the University of Alaska Fairbanks taking introductory classes, including a chemistry class from Dr. Wilson. I decided that I would move to Alaska as soon as possible. When I earned my chemical engineering degree from Washington State Univer-sity in June 1968, I accepted a job with Collier Carbon & Chemical Co. in Kenai starting up the new ammonia-urea plant complex. My first teaching (job) for the college was directed by Clayton Brockel as a part-time instructor during 1970.

Hobbies and interests: "I enjoy singing with my wife, Janice, in a small group at the Kenai Fellowship Church of Christ. Riding bicycles is one of my favorite outdoor activities, and we do some camping around the state."

Memorable job: "My wife and I spent three years working for Esso Standard Libya in Marsa el Brega, Libya. I had a very interesting job as the instrument engineering supervisor working at all of our facilities located on the coast and 200 kilometers south in the Sahara Desert. I worked with a wide range of nationalities on a variety of control systems."

Five years from now: "Presumably, I will still be here on the Kenai Peninsula. Time is filled with swift transition, so predicting what I will be doing or where I will be in five years seems a little bit presumptuous. My wife and I hope to retire within 10 years."

Favorite thing about KPC: "I feel that the faculty and staff here at KPC have helped many students, who might not have fared well at a larger institution, become excellent employees all over the state. I believe the key to our success is early direct communication with students in our various programs. I frequently encounter former industrial instrumentation students in positions of great responsibility performing technically challenging work. Talking with students in these situations gives me a sense of the worth of the work that we do."

This column is provided by Suzie Kendrick, community relations coordinator at Kenai Peninsula College



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