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5 Questions With… Barbara Walters

Barbara WaltersWith a B.A. in Psychology from Vanderbilt University and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, Barbara Walters joined the CUNY faculty in 1996, and now serves as Professor of Sociology at Kingsborough Community College. In 2005, KCC Provost and Academic Vice-President Stuart Suss appointed Barbara to the Steering Committee for Online Resources and Education (S.C.O.R.E.), a move which completely changed her professional life. It opened the door to the SPS CUNY Online Consortial Faculty, which she joined in 2006 with the first cohort of students. In May of 2011, Barbara was appointed Academic Director of the SPS Online B.A. in Sociology. Her primary interest has always been working with students to help them succeed in their program and then in their careers. Let’s learn a little more about Barbara and what her idea of a perfect day entails!

1.  What did you want to be when you grew up?

In sixth grade, I won a Junior Scholastic writing award and placed in the national competition.  With this victory under my belt, I decided to become a nonfiction writer in New York City.  Later, as a high school student, after reading Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams, I decided to become a psychiatrist. In the South, in those days, this quickly translated into being advised to go to Nursing School.  And I, just as quickly, transferred to the BA in Psychology Program after the first year.  My minor in Sociology alongside research work in the Sociology Department rekindled my earlier dream of becoming a writer.  This dream got legs as I focused on becoming a professor of sociology and gained admission to graduate school.

2.  How did you become a teacher?

My first teaching job was the full realization of a lifelong pursuit of the impossible dream – a long, twisted, and arduous path – but worth every ounce of blood, sweat, tears and frustration that went into it.  The 350th job application worked like a charm.  Never give up on your dreams.

 3.  What was your first concert?

The Jordon College of Music when I was 11; I played (sort of) Für Elise and a minuet from the Anna Magdalena Back notebook, choices made by a piano teacher who specialized in the torture of 11-year-olds.  This was the real beginning of my career in teaching sociology.

 4.  What’s the best advice you’ve ever received.

Finish your degree.

 5.  What’s your idea of a perfect day?

It must have the following ingredients:

  • students
  • 8 hours of sleep
  • Some time for writing
  • Oatmeal for breakfast with a great cup of hazelnut coffee
  • A walk on the beach, in a park or in the snow with Steve (my husband)
  • Smoked salmon for lunch
  • Great keyboard music
  • A glass of Cabernet before dinner with cheese and crackers
  • A raspberry soufflé for dessert
  • At least three encounters with children under the age of 5 (other people’s children)
  • At least two encounters with nice friendly dogs (other people’s dogs)
  • At least two real conversations with friends or colleagues