Teaching is my 3rd career:
Prior: Legal Secretary; Visual Merchandiser
Started at Ventura College at age 42.
Six years later, I earned my MA in English Literature at Cal State, Northridge. Summa Cum Lauda. Because I’m not a good test taker, I opted to write a thesis, “Feminine Silence and Speech in Fairy Tales.” It is bound and in the CSUN Library. While attending CSUN, I was also teaching. I started at Saint Bonaventure, where I taught for 14 years. At the same time, I was teaching a couple of classes at my Alma Mater, VC, where I taught nights. (English Composition and Critical Thinking in Literature.) It was not easy to start over as a student, yet I worked hard at it. I even received a transfer scholarship.
I never forgot how fortunate I was to receive this scholarship, so years later, once we could afford to do so and because we never forgot the hand-up I received, Dave and I started the “Dave and Liz Kraus” Scholarship a few years ago. It is through the Ventura College Foundation and categorized as a Phoenix Award. We have it specifically for a student who is in the Humanities (my academic focus) who has decided to return to school, start a new direction, and needs a hand up as well. It has been a privilege to meet each of our recipients.
I loved my experience with the high school students, and in fact to this day I remain in touch with more than several of them. Once I left St. Bonaventure High School, I went days at Ventura College. I remained an Adjunct (part-time) instructor as it fit into my lifestyle. The best of both worlds. It was spending time in the classroom with a wide variety of students from many walks of life and many age levels, and life experiences. The best thing about being a teacher? Learning from my students. They enriched my life.
While at Ventura College, it became profoundly clear to me how many students were dealing with food insecurity. To help out in some way, Dave and I started “Liz’s Tab.” We did this in conjunction with Peter, who owns L & T Food Catering, (his food truck is on campus). Dave and I would give Peter a couple of hundreds of dollars to Peter and he then would match it. It worked as such:
The first day of class I would tell my VC students I know it is too difficult to think when hungry, so all they had to do was to go to the L & T catering truck and order some food. To pay for it, all they had to say was “put it on Liz’s tab.” I made it clear they were not to buy the most expensive food. Get what they needed to help fill their stomachs (Peter’s food is always freshly made, so I knew they were getting good food, yes, even the French fries).
I made very clear to my students “if you can afford to buy your own food, and you have change left over, it would be very much appreciated if you donated it to Liz’s tab. Give while you can. And those who cannot, I hope somewhere down the line you remember this and give back to others when you are able.” This arrangement with Peter went on for a couple of years. It was worth every dime.
I’m a wife. A mother. (One son) A mother-in-law A grandmother (One granddaughter). A former daughter (both parents have passed). A sister. A best friend—to more than one girlfriend. (Each being my favorite—don’t tell them this though 😊). I’m a secret keeper. I learned in high school the hard way that secrets (the good kind), are meant to be kept. So be it! I’m aware of the world outside my door. I feel for the underdog, having felt like one for so many young years of my life. I’ve become an author.
It has always been the destination for me. Trying to get better an enjoying the journey, which in care I write about; rather ironic.
I’m much more extrovert than introvert. I asked my husband to marry me—why wait? (Married 39 years. Wedding anniversary is April 15—this way he never forgets.)
Being an extrovert has helped me when it comes to getting the word out about my book, one I never thought to write. Not on my bucket list. A travel journal, Covid, and a reinforced dislike of jigsaw puzzles—and I’ve got a book, two years later.
I’m a storyteller. I love a great joke, pun. I come from a family of jokesters.
I grow some amazing roses and cymbidium orchids. I prefer the center of a cinnamon roll over any other part of any donut, not that I’m a big donut fan, but worth mentioning.
I enjoy a good walk with my pup, a hike in the Sierra’s, road trips. Trips.
Because of 3 Sisters, 3 Weeks, 3 Countries (Still Talking), I have connected with and become friends with many people around the world, starting with Nic in Scotland. She is my Scottish Sis and I am her SoCal sis. Writing and publishing 3 Sisters, 3 Weeks, 3 Countries (Still Talking) has brought me many unexpected gifts, starting with meeting new people. Typically, as we age, we don’t tend to make new friends, yet I have been doing just that. I love these new dimensions of my life.
I would like to mentor other memoir writers.