Since 1976, Carrie Biggs Adams has been a proud member of the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians-Communications Workers of America (NABET-CWA), first as a member and now as a Staff Representative working for the National to serve her membership.
Recently her “members” have grown to include the students of NLC with her recent election to class president. The class president works with the Chief Steward and Newsletter Editor to serve the student body for a year-long term. Carrie will work with alumni and faculty to provide the student perspective to help inform and enrich the College’s academic environment. Current students can join in on the conversation here.
Closing the Gap from 1970 to 2012
For the 59-year-old Labor Studies student of Colmar Manor, Maryland, returning to school after being away from the classroom for 30 years was a challenge.
Getting to know the online tools was intimidating and took time to learn.
I had to maneuver around the mechanics of online college that wasn’t part of academics in the 70s-but I learned it!
But for this daughter of two PhD-toting parents, she knew she wanted to finish her degree especially after helping her two daughters finish theirs.
Before now, college had never seemed to fit into her life. Now that she isn’t paying for anyone else’s tuition, it’s finally Carrie’s turn, but she found that a traditional college wouldn’t work for her. Carrie couldn’t commit to classes with a set schedule.
“I’m a television engineer from NBC Burbank. My most recent job was an assistant editor on a soap opera—that’s everyday—you couldn’t predict your schedule. You might not be out of there until two a.m. and you couldn’t use class as an excuse to leave early because you had a Monday, Wednesday, Friday class,” says Carrie.
Keeping Up at NLC
Carrie likes NLC because its curriculum is designed to be something you do in addition to your full-time job.
“At NLC, I’m able to keep up with the work. I can take my laptop, study, read and post wherever I am—even when bargaining contracts.” Carrie recalls being on a family vacation and sitting in the car to tap into the local library’s wireless internet to do her NLC school work.
An Alternative to Learning by Fire
“We used to throw new union reps in the deep end and see if they drowned– and I didn’t drown,” says Carrie of how she initially learned to be a union representative. But with the NLC, new union representatives can learn the ropes with more support and guidance than the sink-or-swim method provide.
Even with 38 years of being a union official under her belt, Carrie is still learning new things with every class she takes.
She hopes to finish her bachelor’s degree in two years, but hasn’t yet formed a plan for what’s next: “I’m enjoying the process of learning with a goal of completing the degree. I’ve been around academe all my life as the daughter of two PhDs and I wanted my bachelor’s.”
Carrie’s motto is a quote by Henry David Thoreau in 1849 published in the book Civil Disobedience:
Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.
“This is a very special college and a very special place. Give it a try,” says Carrie. “As you join us as an NLC student, reach out and get involved with the other students.”