A Conversation with Dr. Kt

At our latest HCDU meeting, Dr. Kara Taczak, our faculty advisor, stopped by to check in and give some important reminders as we’re soon off to summer classes, internships, and jobs. Most commonly known as Dr. Kt, she has worked at DU for the last eight years in the Writing department. Well known for her FSEMs, ASEMs, and assisting with the editing of graduate dissertations theses, Dr. Kt is adamant about students finding and fostering the best qualities in themselves…and encouraging them to purchase a planner. We enjoyed her five tips and hope you will as well!

  1. 1. Never underestimate the power of humor or a well-placed “fuck”

    Humor breaks the ice and has gotten Dr. Kt through every situation. During her first day of teaching college at twenty-three years old, she was running ten minutes late. She found her classroom, walked in, and asked, “So how’s my hair?” --instantly forming comradery between her and her students.

    She also believes that there is a lot of stigmatism around the word “fuck”, especially as a woman. When she originally started at DU, she didn’t use the word around students, but when she heard her older, male colleague use it in a one-on-one session with a student, she thought, “If he can say it, I sure as heck can!” Additionally, she noted it is rhetorically savvy to place in a piece of writing, speech, TV show, or movie, because you’re obviously trying to emphasize something when you say it. So, if you ever needed a reason, here’s one!

  2. 2. Don’t underestimate the “paint and glue”

    The “paint and glue” as her mom called it, are the outer accessories that make you feel your best. When she started her conversation with us, she had us go around the room and introduce ourselves as well as something that make us feel like ourselves. She noted that several students mentioned pieces of clothing; thus, don’t underestimate what helps you feel comfortable. “When you feel confident and good about yourself, that’s what you project to the world. A lot of that is projected with clothing, makeup, and hair so put on the thing that makes you feel good.”

  3. 3. Set goals

    Dr. Kt doesn’t just mean set goals in a general sense, she means set goals in the “obsessive” way: day, month, years. She believes that you should set goals that are obtainable and some that are not; currently unachievable goals give you something to work towards. A major tool she uses to help her goal set is her planner; her favorite brand is Ink+Volt--she has even turned her students and fellow faculty into journal-fanatics. A well-organized planner also helps Dr. Kt hold herself accountable and lets her see what’s possible. She says we don’t always challenge ourselves; the most natural thing is to do something comfortable. She is currently working towards her 2019 goal of obtaining a yoga instructor certification. When we asked her how it was going, she cracked, “Well, I looked at classes last week…that’s the first step, right?”

  4. 4. Don’t let anyone dull your sparkle

    Dr. Kt is very much into fashion—she rolled up to our meeting wearing a pale blue duster, floral dress, maroon floral tights, and combat boots. As she said, “Don’t say you hate my outfit because I know that it’s trendy.” However, she has had many people in the academic world tell her she would never move beyond being a faculty member because of the way she presents herself. Last summer she attended a summer institute for women who hope to become leaders in the academy. When they were having a discussion on professional presentation, Dr. Kt became more and more enraged because the female presenter was suggesting a narrow type of female leader (pantyhose and all). She raised her hand and said, “So, are you telling me that I cannot wear my glitter eyeliner?” No one had asked the presenter that question before, and after thinking for a moment, she answered that no, at an interview, you should not wear it because there are still too many traditional people in the workforce. Dr. Kt angrily walked away from that presentation, but many of her fellow classmates came up to her and applauded her about asking that question. What she was really asking was in the year 2018, can women be authentic? Can you be yourself and be a woman in power? What she and her classmates eventually concluded over the following two weeks was: yes. At their graduation ceremony, every leader in the organization was wearing glitter eyeliner, and Sodexo even served a glitter-inspired dessert. (Btw her favorite glitter eyeliner is Urban Decay’s.)

  5. 5. Take care of yourself

    Dr. Kt related that especially in your early twenties, we are taught to constantly be on the go; if we miss that deadline, then we’re already ten steps behind the person next to us. Thus, wellbeing, happiness, and mental health get lost in the shuffle. “We can now say ‘emotional health’ in America, but we haven’t fully progressed to talking about it. Self-care….is like a ‘dirty word’; how dare you not be working on something else instead of yourself. Don’t give up your own wellbeing for that.”

We’re going to for sure be checking out some glitter eyeliner and reflecting on our own growth as the school year comes to a close. Thanks Dr. Kt for your advice!