Lecturer Carema Cook Masaud

Practice What You Teach: Meet Lecturer Carema Cook Masaud

March 7, 2023

This story is part of Practice What You Teach, a series that highlights CU Denver lecturers’ diverse expertise and scholarship. Lecturers are crucial to CU Denver’s academic programs, comprising nearly 40% of all faculty. On the whole, Instructional, Research, and Clinical (IRC) faculty make up nearly 64% of faculty and 67% of student credit hours.  

One recent Wednesday morning, CU Denver Lecturer Carema Cook Masaud began her Sex, Human Development, and Family Systems class by asking students to help her unpack a provocative phrase: “You are so hormonal.” In response, the class bandied about ideas on how this phrase relates to gender dynamics and stereotypes, and Cook Masaud outlined the science on what, in fact, hormones actually are (in brief: messengers for the body). All the while, she tied together ideas, provoked student dialogue, and couldn’t help but effuse: “Isn’t our body just so amazing?” 

That combination—of technical know-how, enthusiasm, and relatability—is something that Cook Masaud has brought to her CU Denver lectures since 2022, when she began teaching this class. It is part of the behavioral sciences core curriculum and available as an elective to students across the university. The campus was a familiar location for her: She earned a Master’s in Counselor Psychology degree from CU Denver in 2008 as a first-generation student. Now, as a licensed professional counselor, she infuses her Center for Compassion couples therapy practice (which she balances with teaching responsibilities) with the same expertise, compassion, and personal commitment she shows in the classroom.  

We recently caught up with her for a conversation that was—as you’d expect from a good therapist—cordial, candid, and nourishing.  

On connections between therapy and teaching work… 

To my class, I can speak from a place of being a therapist, of saying, “The information I’m sharing with you here in class, this is how I use it in my practice. These are the things we talk about sometimes in therapy. And, through all the study and research I do to be a proficient and effective teacher of my class, I get to learn more about sex education. Then when my clients bring something up, I’m more informed about it, because I teach this class. So it absolutely helps me in both professions.  

On balancing time… 

I probably spend one full day on weekends, then three hours a day each weekday including class time (2.5 class hours/week). To make sure I’ve got all the things for my lesson plans, and that I’ve organized the information I want to share with students in the way I’m ready to present it and they’re able to consume it. Outside of class, it’s about half-grading, half-preparation.  

On teaching sex ed as a Muslim… 

One certification I got in my CU Denver therapy program was multicultural counseling. I understand how religion and ethnicity affect us and do a lot of extra work to understand inclusion in sexuality. In therapy, clarity of your identities is really important. To my class, I bring up early that I raised my children in Islam and consider myself Muslim. At the same time, I say I also consider myself very liberal, and my world view is inclusion.

On her CU Denver student experience… 

Something I really appreciated is the practicum-type work and all the practice I got for the degree in therapy. We were role-playing in all our classes, practicing what we will be, the whole time. Every professor I had worked as a therapist. And a funny thing that happened to me while I was going to school: At 47 years old, I became pregnant with my fifth child. All the support they gave me was unbelievable, above and beyond what any professor should be asked to do. I felt seen and heard by every single professor I had in my program.   

On family connection… 

My eldest son graduated from CU Denver in 2004, and I started my graduate degree that spring. My third son and eldest daughter also attended CU Denver during my master’s studies. They had a completely different experience. They got to be more involved in student life, some of them were involved in the Muslim Student Association, whereas I was running in between my studies and my jobs, and [at that time] my biggest job was taking care of my kids. 

On the best part of teaching… 

THE STUDENTS! They are an amazing group of intelligent and curious people that are grateful for and committed to their education. I also love that they come from so many cultures, ethnicities, family histories, abilities, and gender and sexual identities.   

Counseling Center

Click here to learn more about CU Denver’s Human Development and Family Relations degree path.