Pictured: CBC-Alice Algebra instructor Masuzo Takikita, or Mr. T. as his students call him, tries to help every student find success in the classroom. Photo by MAURICIO JULIAN CUELLAR JR.

Takikita teaches algebra; Clark government

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Alice Echo-News Journal

There are two new faces on the Coastal Bend College Alice campus this year, and both instructors have years of real-world experience to add to the diversity the school offers.

Masuzo Takikita was raised in the ancient city of Nara, Japan. Once the country's ancient capitol, Nara is a historical center visited by thousands of tourists every year.

Nearly 10 years ago, "Mr. T" as his students call him, decided he wanted a change in life, and decided to become a teacher. He moved to the United States and settled in San Antonio, where he earned a master's degree in math and currently teaches college algebra at CBC.

"I originally applied for the Pleasanton branch, which had an opening. When I applied, I found out the position had already been filled, but that there was an opening in Alice," Takikita said.

"I don't know where that was, so I checked the map on Google, and saw it was 120 miles away."

Mr. T spends the week in Alice, and his weekends back at home with his wife in San Antonio. She runs a successful business there. He said teaching students means helping them to find success and fulfill their dreams.

Mr. T views teaching like a ministry, taking care of people and ensuring that each student becomes a success story.

He is also realistic in his approach to his students.

"I understand the students' anxiety, their thinking process. I know how they want to succeed, but not study. I knew that before I started. My teaching style, I try to stand as the student stands," Takikita said.

He said his favorite part of Texas is the "bigness" of it all. "Big, everything is big. Big people, big minds and big land, compared to Japan," Takikita said.

Army Special Forces Ret. Lt. Col. Karl Clark has spent the last three years as an adjunct instructor, trying to open his students' eyes to the prejudices of life around them.

Now as a full-time faculty member, Clark is bringing his real-world government experience to the students in Alice.

Clark served in the Joint Chiefs of Staff Counter Narcotics Division. Before that, he was a member of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Additionally, he was involved with the State Department's International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement.

Clark attended Hill College and Sam Houston State, so he knows the importance of experience in a small college setting. He said he knows what it means to get started with a solid education.

"I've been in 22 different countries, and I appreciated Dr. (Rito) Silva giving me the opportunity to teach and expand the minds of students," Clark said. "With my experience, I can tell the students how the rest of the world thinks and sees us."

That eye for understanding others is something Clark strives for in the classroom. Students are encouraged on the first day to examine different news outlets online and newspapers that have different editorial viewpoints. The point is to notice how different people with preconceived notions and prejudices can interpret one story or one event. Clark welcomes discussions in his classes and appreciates students from different backgrounds, such as those from India or Mexico, who are willing to share their unique viewpoints during class.

"In class we use the texts as a foundation, but I want them to think differently. I want them knowledgeable about current events, and understand they impact each individual student differently," he said. "The key is for the students to be able to analyze the information before them and think critically. I've always wanted to give back, and this is an excellent opportunity."