Professor Ruppert of Coastline College
How long have you been teaching and how long at Coastline?
I started teaching at the college-level 21 years ago. My first jobs were at Mt. San Jacinto College in Hemet and Cal State Fullerton. I started teaching at Coastline part time in 2009 and full time in 2019.
What do you love about working at Coastline College?
I love that almost all conversations are centered around how to better serve students. At four-year institutions, research goals are often a main driver. While that is a valuable endeavor, my heart is in inspiring and supporting students as they reach their goals. Consequently, Coastline's mission of meeting students where they are, aligns perfectly with my passion to serve students.
What made you interested in teaching about Geology?
I started out in college as an undeclared Humanities major with only one goal in mind - to avoid all science classes. As most students know, all students are required to satisfy a lab science requirement. I had to pick between Entomology, Astronomy, and Geology. Geology was the only class that fit in my schedule AND was not going to ask me to touch dead bugs. So Geology it was! And after just a few weeks of that introductory course, I knew I had found my home. I had always been good at math and science but never found something interesting enough to apply it to. Geology was different. You see it all around you every day. It is so neat to look at a mountain and think "Hmmm...I wonder how that got there." As far as teaching goes, it just fell into my lap! For my first teaching job, the outgoing professor suggested me as someone to fill their shoes. I said yes to the offer and found out I love to share knowledge and watch students develop interests surrounding a topic I love. My favorite thing to hear is that a student was dreading taking my class but part way in realized how interesting it was and how it ended up being one of their favorite classes in college. I have had countless seniors tell me they wish they had taken it sooner as they would have considered adding it on as a minor or even switching majors.
The Ruppert Family!
What would you say to students who are interested in majoring in Geology?
Do it! Geology departments are typically fairly small which means you get a lot of one-on-one attention. Get involved in your classes and on campus and start building connections. When you ask geologists how they got their job it often starts with "Well I knew this person from...". The small-community feel is very valuable and makes for a very rich learning experience. You will also want to explore what aspect of geology you are most interested in. Some areas involve a lot of field work, others don't! Some require extensive knowledge of Physics, others don't! Find out what interests you and then get involved.
What kinds of careers can be had in Geology?
Geology is interesting because it combines with a lot of other sciences to form a specialty. Chemistry plus geology equals geochemistry. Biology plus geology equals paleontology. Physics plus geology equals geophysics. Depending on your area of interest your work will vary. You can work with environmental firms helping to assess or clean up pollution related to groundwater contamination or poor mining practices. You can work in the oil industry locating and extracting oil and natural gas. Some geologists map and assess hazards related to volcanic eruptions, landslides, or earthquake events. Others work with Geographic Information System (GIS) companies using the software products and geologic map data to assess a variety of things. There are a lot of options for sure.
What can you tell students about your courses?
My geology courses are fun and engaging. I really try to connect what you are learning in the class to things you have experienced before or can see in your everyday life. My hope is that when you finish a class you have a greater understanding of how Earth works and start to notice geology in action all around you. I also try and share interesting facts in the courses. For example, did you know you can download an app that will warn you when an earthquake is coming in California? It is called ShakeAlert. Also, did you know that even though California is famous for its earthquakes, it will likely never have anything over around an 8.0. The really big events, the 9.0s, happen in places like Alaska and South America. Geology courses teach you why!
What are some of your favorite hobbies?
I love to partner dance. I started dancing in a competitive country circuit called United Country Western Dance Council (UCWDC) many years ago. In that time, I met my husband (he was my judge) and I made my way up the ranks of the organization. We dance Two Step, Waltz, Cha Cha, West Coast Swing, East Coast Swing and several others. We now get to travel all over the US and Canada to perform, judge, and teach workshops. Several years ago, Stagecoach Music Festival hired us to perform which was a lot of fun. It is neat to have a hobby that I get to share with my husband.
Professor Kelly Rupert
I also love spending time with my kids who are seven and five. They keep me busy, especially since I am the leader of my daughter's Girl Scout Troop. Cookie Season is particularly busy, but I love doing it because the girls learn valuable life skills and the proceeds go back into the community. We do simple things too. My son loves working in the yard with me, so we spend a lot of time outside digging in the dirt.
At Coastline College we are dedicated to the success of our students. In addition to our students we applaud and welcome the efforts of our faculty! We are fortunate to have professors like Professor Ruppert for our Geology courses. Her insight on Geology is very valuable and greatly appreciated from everyone! Stay tuned for our next teacher feature in our ongoing series.