KCC FACULTY ON TEACHING

Q&A with Eric Conte| Education Studies

 Shoshana Friedman
How did you get into teaching?

I’d intended to follow a research path when I entered into the mathematics PhD program at the CUNY Graduate Center. While in the program, I was fortunate enough to receive a graduate teaching fellowship that required me to teach. The experience was eye-opening. I guess you can say I found my calling in this experience. It changed the trajectory of my life and the rest is history.

What career did you imagine for yourself when you were in college?
Looking back, my career path has been a process of evolution starting from a childhood interest in math and science. As a child of immigrants, education was always emphasized and prioritized as a way for us to achieve the American Dream. The career options presented to me, however, were rather limited and I set out originally to become a doctor. In the course of pursuing that goal, I was exposed to research and switched gears.

What do you love about teaching?
As a math professor, there’s probably nothing more rewarding to me than the moment when a student realizes that the impossible is, in fact, possible. Too often, students approach math with a phobia – as if there is some inherent lack that prevents them from learning math. It’s that moment when you see the lightbulb go off, when the student has not just the knowledge but the confidence to go further.

What’s your favorite teaching experience?
It’s hard to nail it down to just one thing. The moment when the student’s lightbulb goes off is always rewarding. Given my background and the fact that many of my students are immigrants or first-generation Americans, the opportunity to introduce them to potential career paths is also something I value. If I had to pick one specific thing, I am very proud of developing an introductory set theory course. Set theory is my field of research and I am honored to have the opportunity to expose students to concepts that they may not otherwise come across.

In what ways do you bring your professional experience into the classroom?
I have had many different types of jobs during my professional life but the majority of them have been in academia. In particular, I have been at CUNY in some capacity for most of my adult life, as an undergraduate student, as a graduate student, and as a faculty member. I have a lot of insight on how to access all of the benefits that CUNY makes possible and how to navigate the pitfalls.

What advice do you have for current students?
Be open-minded and learn as much as you can.  Challenge yourself and go outside of your comfort zone. Most of the limitations we perceive are, in fact, just our own perceptions, placed by ourselves. See the possibilities and make them a reality. 

Sherrye GlaserHow did you get into teaching?
I began my teaching career as a medical researcher mentoring students in a laboratory. I found it very rewarding to transfer my skills and knowledge to the next generation of scientists. Inspired by this experience, I began a fellowship with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to develop my pedagogical skills. The fellowship led to me teaching undergraduate neurobiology at Stony Brook University. I discovered that I loved to teach. I eventually shifted my career focus from research to teaching and subsequently accepted a position in the Department of Biological Sciences at Kingsborough.

What career did you imagine for yourself when you were in college?
I began my undergraduate experience as a pre-med student at Stony Brook University. During those four years, I decided to pursue a career in research. I continued my academics and earned my PhD in molecular biology. My research career focused on neuropharmacology – the study of the effects of drugs on and in the nervous system – and stretched 12 years at both the Center of Translational Neuroimaging at Brookhaven National Lab and Stony Brook University.

What do you love about teaching?
The students at Kingsborough are a remarkable group. The diversity of our student body could only be found in Brooklyn. It is wonderful to have the class generously share their personal experiences and heritage with the class. There is a sense of community at the College that is not often felt in academic institutions. It is heartwarming to see students complete their academic goals and blossom into professionals.

What’s your favorite teaching experience?
The most fulfilling part of teaching is seeing students develop an inner confidence and overcome personal obstacles. Students often arrive at Kingsborough feeling a bit unsure of their abilities. For some, English is a second language. Others are challenged by learning disabilities. It is phenomenal to watch students tackle and overcome these challenges.

In what ways do you bring your professional experience into the classroom?
Prior to becoming a professional scientist and educator, I spent many years as a “professional student.” I remember the mistakes I made while pursuing my academics. I often share with students what I learned, giving them tips on note taking, organizing their schedule, staying resilient, and adopting time-effective study techniques.

What advice do you have for current students?
If you are not confident about a subject, boldly tackle it head-on. While it is certainly a time investment in the short term to take remedial classes and improve yourself in that weak area, ultimately, your confidence will permanently increase as that weight is lifted. My second word of advice is to see college as a contract you are making with yourself. Set-up your phone calendar with blocked out times for both your classes and also daily time to study. Adhere to that schedule the way you adhere to a work schedule. Not giving-up and prioritizing your academic schedule are the two most critical traits underlying student success.

Amy Haas

How did you get into teaching?
I was a practicing certified public accountant (CPA) until the birth of my daughter. I decided that teaching would be a way to move my career in another direction that would be more flexible than working in the accounting field. I have always loved learning and when you teach you are learning. It seemed like a perfect combination.

What career did you imagine for yourself when you were in college? 
I really did not have a clear idea of what it would be like to work in the accounting field. I just knew I loved accounting and I was not sure where it would take me. I was a trailblazer. I was one of only two women hired by the accounting firm I worked for. The field has changed greatly since then and now more than 50% of accounting professionals are women.

What do you love about teaching?
I love the interaction with the student. It makes me happy when I can share my love and understanding of accounting with them. For me, the best part of teaching is helping students resolve problems. I love having past students come back to share their experiences with students.

What’s your favorite teaching experience?There have been many good ones. I remember the funny ones the most. For example, a student once submitted a scan-tron with the first eight questions blank. When I suggested he at least make a guess for the blank questions, he responded his exam began with question nine!

One of my favorite experiences was with an underprepared student who was a very nice "kid" and really wanted to succeed, but was very disorganized. He began the semester showing up late and got a very late start on class assignments. He would lose all the class handouts immediately. I spoke to him about these issues and even suggested he retake the class because he was so far behind. (In accounting it's very difficult for students to catch up with late work.) As a sports management major, I was concerned he did not have the foundation to pass the class. He persisted and told me he needed to pass this class this semester. Not only did he do a 360-degree turn-around, showing up on time, getting a tutor, but he excelled. It reminded me never to give up on a student, and that motivation and determination are some of the most important qualities for success.

In what ways do you bring your professional experience into the classroom? 
I like to share “war stories” with students. I tell them about some of the silly things I did when I first started out. I like to have my past students share their stories with the class too.

What advice do you have for current students? 
Good planning is a key to success in school and in life. Many students do not plan well and that is the primary reason they don’t succeed. Going to college is a job, and like any job, you must schedule your “hours.” One of the first assignments I give to my students is to complete a weekly schedule, designating the time they will work on their coursework for all their classes. I ask them to include work hours, family time and leisure activities. Students find this helpful because it forces them to be realistic about what they can accomplish.

Delia HernandezHow did you get into teaching?
Teaching found me!  As first-generation students, my best friend and I helped each other through school. When we were completing our college applications, I asked her what I should choose as a major. She looked at me as if she thought it was obvious and responded: "Are you kidding? You are going to St. Francis and will become a teacher."  So, I did! I started teaching while I was in college. I majored in English and elementary education and have worked in schools for my entire career. Being a teacher is much more than my profession: It is intertwined with the way in which I live, so it has become a key aspect of my identity.

What do you love about teaching?
I value my role in serving as a bridge between the realities and experiences of my students and the culture of academia. Also, I love the excitement of a new year or new semester - a chance to begin anew and refine my practice. 

What’s your favorite teaching experience?My favorite moments center around first experiences. With first-year students, I love seeing their growth as they become acclimated to college and begin to tap into their beliefs about education. They begin to recognize that they bring a wealth of knowledge about the field of education as they find and develop their "teacher" voices and views. For my students in their last semester at KCC, I love the transformation that happens when they get to work directly with children as they experience field work for the first time. They realize that what they have been learning actually does align with what is happening in real classrooms...and that they have some skills and strengths!

In what ways do you bring your professional experience into the classroom?
Everything that I've done in my career as a teacher, reading specialist and assistant principal impacts my current experiences and practice.  In a sense, there are strong parallels between working with first graders as they learn to read and working with first-year KCC students as they learn to become college students.  

What advice do you have for current students?
Engage - Seek to learn and grow in every class - Use a planner - Ask questions - Develop some interests - Make some friends - Get to know some professors - And...Read your email so that you will be informed and prepared!

ZMG Sarwar Jahangir, Ph.D.

How did you get into teaching?
I was born in Bangladesh and grew up in a family with teaching as a tradition. (My father was a teacher, two uncles were teachers, my grandfather was a teacher, and so on.) I used to watch my father and mother reciting novels and poems to each other, teaching their contents to each other. Whenever I learned something new as a young student, I would immediately plan in my mind how I would explain it to others. In seventh grade, I set up a classroom in my home to teach younger children how to read and write. As an undergraduate, I used to teach my fellow classmates after class. I was appointed as a biology teaching fellow after completing my graduate degree at Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU). While I was an M.Sc. student at Cochin University in India, I would love to teach a class when a teacher was absent. I have taught at the University of Alberta, Canada, several CUNY campuses, Stockton University, NJ, and Wabash College, IN. I love teaching as a profession.

What career did you imagine for yourself when you were in college?
When I entered BAU as an undergraduate, I thought I would do research to improve the spawning of Indian major carps for aquaculture. As I was ranking first in every year in undergraduate, my friends used to whisper in my ear that the University would take me as a teacher. I came to feel teaching would be an opportunity to be creative, learn and decipher knowledge to the younger generations.

What do you love about teaching?
Teaching gives one an unlimited scope for self-education and this might help me reach “panditya”, which means scholarship. In addition to coming to the classroom well prepared for a topic, I try to get my students to consider how education and knowledge have contributed to human life, society and overcoming hurdles. I also attempt to learn about my students as people, and remain humble and helpful to them: I want them to know that I am concerned about all of them. During the learning process, I encourage their inquisitiveness by gradually adding new information to what they already know. I want to inspire them to continue to explore the vast unlimited unknowns we’ve yet to discover. 

What’s your favorite teaching experience?
I feel very rewarded when I hear of students who are succeeding in the field of biotechnology. One of our former students is now working in an international biotechnology company in New Jersey as a managing director, advising customers that include Moderna and Pfizer. Several others are now employed at biotechnology-pharmaceutical firms, and are pursuing advanced degrees in the field of biotechnology, including Ph.D.’s. In the classroom, my most favorite experience is when a student presents an idea I never thought of, participates and asks to expand the idea further.

In what ways do you bring your professional experience into the classroom?
When I joined KCC, I was excited to learn that they were interested in starting a biotechnology program. I immediately started helping to structure the program using my knowledge of the industry. We reached out to related institutions and businesses in and around NYC, NJ, PA and CT and have established relationships with Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, Merk, GenScript, Drexel University, and others, to help benefit our students. We received strong support from around the campus and from many city and state agencies, as well as professional organizations. We also created a student chapter of The International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE), which opened a world of opportunities for our students. Students were able build their professional network, meet industry leaders, and take part in ISPE Student Poster Competitions, sometimes winning awards.

 I enjoy sharing my professional experience by mentoring our students. Together we have worked on such research projects as spawning American eel and COVID-19 vaccine production, for which we applied for two grants. I have also taken part, as a co-PI and director, in several large size National Science Foundation grants for KCC.

What advice do you have for current students?
Learning is never a waste. We all depend on each other for knowledge. We are all excellent because we came here to learn – and we are all successful in our own way. There are a lot of essential things left to learn. Keep learning!

 

Q&A with Melisa Jn. PierreHow did you get into teaching?
It was a circuitous route that began with my parents’ prayers, an unrelenting network of supportive people, and embracing both familiar and unfamiliar challenges. When a former professor asked me to consider teaching after graduation, I thought to myself, “Hmm, now which part of this conversation is really meant to keep me from dropping the class?” This exchange turned out to be a most genuine nudge into a fulfilling path. The nuggets of our dreams are spurred on with a few purposeful and kind words.

What career did you imagine for yourself when you were in college?
I envisioned two career paths. The first was a counseling practice with a specialty in teenage counseling. The second was owning a family chain of restaurants and a creative arts/day center for the elderly, bringing three passions together: food, literary performance, and geriatric care.

What do you love about teaching?Unreservedly, I love that my students show up right there with me, be they few or a full class! If we’re here, the journey begins. I love stepping into the world of each classroom that slowly transforms the teacher/student dynamic into an instrument of shared integral stories and experiences over the course of the semester, without a sense of jaded optimism for the determined faces. And I love the tug and pull of collaborative knowing, which lowers the walls of apprehension for the most part.

What’s your favorite teaching experience?
I enjoy when students take an assignment beyond its original goals, committing their own ways of seeing with intuitive individuality. For example, with an assignment that was meant to focus on a community outside of Kingsborough, students turned the interviewing lens onto their peers, some of whom were single fathers. The students provided an authentic space for listening, honoring, and celebrating another person’s story, which they, in turn, presented to the class.

In what ways do you bring your professional experience into the classroom?
Having worked in several fields outside of education, where I continue to form connections with diverse communities on and off campus, allows me to bring multiple frames of reference to the classroom that intersect with pedagogical philosophy, application and students’ narratives.

What advice do you have for current students?
Please know when we ask, “Do you have any concerns? How are you coping?” it is not a trick question. We really want to know! The contact information and office hour for your professor are not window dressing for the syllabus. We are here to support you through the semester. Share your story, before you worry.

 

 Tanya Johnson

How did you get into teaching?
I got into teaching truly by happenstance. Like most, I was on a search engine looking for a job. What I didn’t know at that point was that I was embarking on completely changing my career. I reflect on the day of my interview regularly…everything imaginable was going wrong, until I came on campus and, in that moment, I knew I was supposed to be here.

What career did you imagine for yourself when you were in college?
Since I didn’t complete college until my early 30’s and I was already on the management/directorial track in hospitality, I sought to advance myself, at some point, to the position of hotel or general manager.

What do you love about teaching?
I enjoy influencing the future of an industry that has been an integral part of my life and development. To be in hospitality requires humility, professionalism, patience, creativity, and empathy among other traits. Getting others to interweave these and other characteristics to become change agents for an industry that is as ancient, but constantly evolving is a total rush.

What’s your favorite teaching experience?
My favorite teaching experience thus far was when I was able to chaperone students to Disney World to participate in their onsite leadership training. Having my students gain insight from an organization that is renowned for its service, hospitality, and influence was magnificent.

In what ways do you bring your professional experience into the classroom?
Oftentimes, I use experiences had as a foundation for discussion and debate in class.  It allows students to understand there are numerous ways to resolve issues. As the department’s club advisor in the past, I’ve also used my contacts to create panels and to invite speakers that offer real-world knowledge based on current occurrences in industry, rather than just theoretical details found in textbooks.

What advice do you have for current students?
My advice would be to go beyond textbooks and lectures. The lessons the collegiate experience can offer include social development, networking, leadership skill building, and so much more, all within an environment that’s supportive and focused on helping those within in it to achieve maturation.

 Tyronne Johnson

How did you get into teaching?
My teaching career started while working as a sterile processing director at Flushing Hospital. I was tutoring sterile processing professionals for their national certification and fell in love with helping others to learn. While working with my staff, I caught the eye of the 1199 union. Training my team and helping them all gain their certification led the union to seek me out to help other individuals who wanted to become certified. I didn’t know it then, but I’d begun nurturing my passion for teaching.

What career did you imagine for yourself when you were in college?
When I was in college, I imagined I’d become a basketball player, playing for a professional team. I majored in liberal arts, concentrating in science and mathematics, but I hadn’t intended on using any of that knowledge. The degree was plan B (or maybe plan C). My plan A was to be a famous NBA basketball player.

What do you love about teaching?
I love the fact I can help someone change their life. I’ve been teaching surgical and sterile processing technology for years and have seen my students start their new careers and gain success. They are buying homes and taking care of their families, even earning promotions and advancing in the profession. It is the most rewarding feeling to hear how my students are prospering.

What’s your favorite teaching experience?My favorite teaching experience was teaching under contract for the 1199 SEIU training and upgrading fund. I was able to train many students in many NY State hospitals and met a lot of individuals who wanted to learn. The teaching experience was great because they were as excited to learn as I was to teach.

In what ways do you bring your professional experience into the classroom?
I spent over 25 years as a practicing allied health professional. I share all of my experience with students entering the surgical technology profession in my classes. During their clinicals, I show or explain techniques to help them prepare their surgical set-up more efficiently. I challenge their ability to think critically by placing them in similar case scenarios I faced as a surgical technologist. I also explain the evolutionary change to today’s surgical technology.

What advice do you have for current students?
I would advise students interested in any medical field to either volunteer or visit their local hospital. Most students know about nursing and being a doctor and maybe even an X-ray technologist, but many students don’t see the other types of allied health professions that are out there. There are times when I introduce the surgical technology or sterile processing courses to interested students who didn’t know a career in the operating room existed. I remember hearing a student say they believed everyone in the OR needed a minimum of eight to ten years of education just to be there. So, volunteering or visiting different departments at your local hospital helps.

Q&A with Nicholas SkirkaHow did you get into teaching?
I found myself giving good advice to people so I took that trait and used it in teaching and coaching soccer. I taught in high school and now college, and worked in the athletic department at New York University.   

What career did you imagine for yourself when you were in college?
When I attended college, I decided that my career would be physical education teaching and soccer coaching. I chose what I like to do in life rather than going after the money. I value getting a very good education and sharing this with students.

What do you love about teaching?
I enjoy figuring out how to motivate students to learn. Once I can motivate students and get them to do the work, I know they are learning.

What’s your favorite teaching experience?The most rewarding teaching experience is seeing students learn, graduate, pursue a career, and show their appreciation to teachers.

In what ways do you bring your professional experience into the classroom?
First, I provide guidance to students so that they make the right career decisions. Second, I structure my lectures so students are exposed to the main concepts and substance required to learn in the course.

What advice do you have for current students?
I would like to see students recognize their good qualities, talents, and gifts. I would like to see students go with their strengths and work on their weaknesses.

Dr. Beth King

How did you get into teaching?
While completing my doctorate, I was required to teach several laboratory courses for a large lecture in anthropology. The labs were for several hours with a small group of students. I found the experience to be very rewarding and looked forward to each class. But it would be years before I was given the opportunity to teach again, and that was at Kingsborough.

What career did you imagine for yourself when you were in college?
I was very experimental in my first years of college. I tried classes in many different fields. When I took an introductory anthropology class in my sophomore year, I loved it. But at that time, I did not see a career in anthropology in part because my father had master’s degrees in anthropology and architecture. He made his living in architecture and encouraged my interest in archaeology, but argued that it was not a good career choice and pushed me to go to law school. In my junior year, I went to archaeology field school and started to explore job opportunities in anthropology. During graduation, I was one of two graduates in anthropology with employment. I spent the next five years traveling between archaeological field camps in the U.S. For most of those years, I was living in a tent. It was an incredibly fun time and I learned so much but it was not a lifestyle that I wanted to continue doing for years. I applied to graduate school and looked for other opportunities.

What do you love about teaching?
I really fell in love with teaching a Kingsborough. I cannot think of a better place for an anthropologist to teach than at a school with such a diverse student body. I learn something from my students every day. I am amazed at how hard working they are – many with jobs and young children. I love exploring my field with my students each semester; it is like looking at it with fresh eyes. Moreover, I met a group of colleagues willing to help me improve my teaching abilities. I am so thankful for the KCTL and FIG (Faculty Interest Group) opportunities on campus.

What’s your favorite teaching experience?There are moments in each semester where the students’ openness collides with new knowledge, and we all experience a time of meaningful discovery – beyond the daily goal of acquiring knowledge. My favorite topics in anthropology are often the most difficult to discuss: issues of race, ethnicity and religion. These topics are also the most rewarding for myself and my students. The experiences we share in these discussions change us all. I love to see students gain confidence in their abilities and work hard for good grades. It is so rewarding to see them reach their goals.

In what ways do you bring your professional experience into the classroom?
I worked for many years as an archaeologist. In graduate school, I became a cultural anthropologist and later worked with the Navajo Nation in the protection of their sacred areas for many years. My professional experience is extensive and is incorporated into all aspects of my teaching. I try to give my students an understanding of the types of evidence used in anthropological findings. While I occasionally enliven my lectures with stories of encounters with wild animals and problematic cross-cultural experiences, I mostly try to give a real-world description of working as an anthropologist. The field of anthropology and archaeology is portrayed dramatically in Hollywood when the actual work is often less dramatic.

What advice do you have for current students?
My advice is to take some classes just because you are interested in exploring the topic. Even if you are dedicated to a certain career path, you will still have credits that need to be filled with classes outside of your major. Use this opportunity to explore. It is important to design a life that includes your passion and many opportunities for happiness. I would also advise students to ask their classmates for recommendations on other classes.

Dr. Catherine MaHow did you get into teaching?
I was a writing fellow for a professor at the College of Staten Island who became an entrusted mentor and a dear friend. When my fellowship ended, she asked if I wanted to teach as an adjunct and I was like, sure! That simple conversation was a life-changing moment for me. It changed the trajectory of my life and my career.

What career did you imagine for yourself when you were in college?
While in college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do career-wise. I had learned about accounting at my business high school in Manhattan and thought, ‘I’m good with numbers. I can be an accountant.’ My mom was happy because my aunts were accountants. But then I had another life-changing moment: I took “Introduction to Psychology” at Baruch. I had never been so interested in any class before! I devoured everything I learned in that class. I couldn’t wait to read the textbook and learn more about psychology. I knew I wanted to become a psychologist, but didn’t know how to reach my end goal. We were a family of immigrants, and I was a first-generation college student. Immigrants and first-generation college students experience many invisible obstacles. My parents couldn’t advise me on what majors to choose, what careers to pursue, how to become a psychologist, etc. The first thing my mom said was that I wouldn’t make any money, but I don’t think she really knew what a psychologist was. I spent my lunchtime at the mid-Manhattan branch of the NYC public library and learned what I needed to do to become a psychologist.

What do you love about teaching?
What I love most about teaching is meeting students who are like myself: immigrant and first generation. It’s one thing to tell students you are there for them. It’s a whole different ballpark when you share that you’ve been where they are, that you understand their unique struggles and what they are going through, and you are here to help them every step of the way. I try to be the professor I never had.

What’s your favorite teaching experience?
My favorite teaching experience happened in my psychology of immigration class, which I had created to counter the negative rhetoric of a particular president-elect in 2016. I cover many topics related to immigrants and immigration in that course and was discussing the impact of imposter syndrome, where individuals feel they don’t belong in whatever particular field they are in, no matter how many accolades they have earned. I shared my early experiences as an academic who felt like she didn’t belong and how I often felt a lot of doubt in my areas of expertise. I discussed how systemic racism in academia often targets faculty of color and ways to overcome those obstacles. After class, one of my quieter students thanked me for sharing my experiences and for talking about imposter syndrome because many times she had felt that she did not belong in a college setting. We chatted as we walked to our next classes and I told her that we all sometimes forget that we belong. It can be due to battling stressors at the moment or when someone treats us as “lesser than,” but we all belong. Some days are darker than others. I invited her to reach out to me when she has one of those darker days, so I can help her remember how much she does belong. This is the power of teaching: When you share your experiences, it gives permission for students to share theirs – and that is where the best learning happens.

In what ways do you bring your professional experience into the classroom?
My research on maternal issues, immigrants, immigration, race, discrimination and antiracism resonates with our students, who face many of the same issues. It makes teaching really interesting because we have really deep conversations in class around many of these heavy subjects. I recall one day when I was teaching about racism, which is always difficult but such an important topic to address as it colors many experiences our students face on a daily basis. There was an older white gentleman in my class who stopped my lecture to share something that was on his mind. Most of the time when this happens, it leads to an unpleasant outcome where a student will spew racist rhetoric. This time was different. This student actually thanked me for teaching him about the cultural genocide of residential schools, the detriment of the model minority myth, the harassment of female faculty of color, the daily racism people of color face, and the devastation of families of migrant workers. He said our class had changed the way he viewed immigrants. He saw how his actions, thoughts and behaviors contributed to the pain of immigrants and people of color. I was floored and so thankful that I was a professor who could make such a change in that student.

What advice do you have for current students?
I want all students at KCC to be open to learning new ideas and, once they’ve learned those new ideas, to use that knowledge to stand up against injustice whenever it rears its ugly head. The last few years have been extremely trying for me as a Chinese American woman but I channeled my rage to creating a new course, changing my research interests to antiracism, helping our education majors be better prepared to address issues of race and racism in their own classrooms, and reading books by Drs. Bettina Love and Chris Emdin to feed my mind as well as my pedagogy. Always keep learning because that is the only way we can empower ourselves to stand up against injustice.

Dr. Martin MatthewHow did you get into teaching?
My first teaching experience came after completing high school. I taught at a Roman Catholic elementary school for two years. The following year I received a full scholarship to attend the University of Havana and Camaguey in Cuba, where I did some tutoring. After graduate school, I was offered a position by Touro College to teach several courses in history and political science, and later by the college of New Rochelle, where I taught history and political science for several years before joining the history department at Kingsborough Community College.

What career did you imagine for yourself when you were in college?
At the University of Havana, I studied agronomy but realized it was not an area I wanted as a career. Another thought was being an air traffic controller, but I decided against it and settled for economics. I study Economic Planning at the University of Havana and Camaguey for three years. After graduating with a bachelor's in economics, I went to graduate school to study history and political science. Political science I knew well because I had worked with the government and witnessed firsthand how the government operated. However, my great love for history was a deciding factor.

What do you love about teaching?
I love making a difference in students' lives and inspiring them to make a difference in this universe. At Touro and the College of New Rochelle, students have written letters and made telephone calls explaining how I have contributed to their success. Students at Kingsborough are the most inspiring. I have past students who tell me I have changed their lives. Some students demand that other family members take African American and Caribbean classes. Others have reported how those classes changed their perspective and major; some went on to law schools. Teaching is my passion. It is the field that truly keeps on giving. Many students speak about the knowledge received from African American, Caribbean, and political science classes. This makes teaching a grateful career because I am contributing to the learning and the advancement of humanity.

What's your favorite teaching experience?
I had some students who went to Africa because they took the African American class. After taking the Caribbean class, some went to Europe to see how the Caribbean contributed to building multiple European cities. Another exciting experience was an invitation by Haitian American and other Caribbean American students to speak at their church and conventions.

In what ways do you bring your professional experience into the classroom?
I share my struggles growing up and where I am today and encourage them to do the same or better. I firmly believe that students should focus on making a difference in this universe and people's lives by using their professional skills, rather than concentrating on monetary value. I encourage students to apply historical information to their current conditions to solve complex problems and find the right approach to solve those situations.

What advice do you have for current students?
I want current students to remember that most of the greatest inventions and realizations did not occur immediately. These advances came about through prolonged, extensive, and collaborative efforts after several years of attempts and failure. Most humans are impatient for long-term rewards and concentrate on short-term immediate gratification. Make sure you have a purpose in life, and make that purpose meaningful and part of a whole. Don’t look for immediate gratification and quick solutions, and try not to be impatient. Work and study hard and learn thoroughly and comprehensively. Do not accept mediocre conditions; strive for excellence and be the best you can be. Whatever area you have decided for your career, be the best at it. Also, do not let money be your motivator in life. Focus on what you can do to change the world and make a difference in this universe with your career.

Q&A with Christina McVey Physical Therapist Assistant Program

How did you get into teaching?
I am a physical therapist and am currently part of the physical therapist assistant (PTA) program. Earlier in my career, I was the director of rehabilitation and was in charge of the student clinical program in a hospital in Queens. I heard about a new PTA program beginning at Kingsborough and thought it would be interesting to coordinate the student program from the college side. Now, I coordinate the clinical program at the college as well as teach PTA courses. 

What career did you imagine for yourself when you were in college?
In college, I imagined myself as a physical therapist, working with children. To be honest, the thought of standing up in front of a class and teaching was the furthest thing from my mind.  And look at me now, I have done both!

What do you love about teaching?
I love the student interaction in my PTA lab and teaching different exercises and hands-on skills like walking with a cane, walkers and crutches. 

What’s your favorite teaching experience?One of my favorite teaching experiences is observing students while they work with patients in a variety of clinical settings. Seeing students utilizing their skills and interacting with patients is very rewarding. I am also often fortunate to see our alumni (now employees) at the facilities using the skills they learned in our program.

In what ways do you bring your professional experience into the classroom?
While teaching in lectures and labs, I often tell stories about previous patient treatments and use scenarios from my professional experiences. Many times, I find that students better comprehend difficult concepts by using real situations. 

What advice do you have for current students?
I have three pieces of advice for all students. First, find a career you can really picture yourself doing, something you are passionate about.  Doing something you enjoy is so important. Second, don’t let anyone discourage you. If you really want something, work hard and persevere. Third, never say never: Be open to new possibilities, even if it is outside your comfort zone. I would not be here at Kingsborough today without this advice. 

Q&A with Tommy Mintz

How did you get into teaching?
I began teaching in high school. My photography teacher asked me to be an assistant teacher senior year. I continued my teaching practice with my second job after college as a technology instructor for a wide variety of ages at the East Side House Settlement in Mott Haven in the Bronx. I realized that I wanted to teach photography. I then went to Queens College for an MFA, intending to teach at a college. I was an adjunct lecturer at Queens College, Bergen County Community College and Kingsborough for nine years and really enjoyed the experiences on different campuses.

What career did you imagine for yourself when you were in college?
I went to a college to study with a specific photographer who taught there. I knew that I wanted to be an artist.  Knowing this, I decided to study other subjects that could provide ideas to utilize in my work — computer science, sociology, mathematics, dance, theater, marine biology, the history of science, constitutional law — all of which continue to inform to my photographic work.

What do you love about teaching?
I love sharing my practice. Digital photography is present in everyone’s lives and aiding students in raising their consciousness of their creation and consumption of photography is very gratifying. 

What’s your favorite teaching experience?
My favorite teaching experiences are when students are using their cameras to document activities at Kingsborough, especially the Theater Department’s productions and the Fashion Department’s fashion shows.

In what ways do you bring your professional experience into the classroom?
I share my practice as an artist with my students. From photographing, to organizing, to sharing images, my work uses many of the same approaches and techniques that students in the photography classes learn to use. 

What advice do you have for current students?
Photography is a complex craft that is an increasingly large part of our lives. The ability to craft compelling images is empowering. It often takes many failed attempts before a compelling image is crafted. Be patient with yourself as you work on your craft.

 

Q&A with John Nappo
How did you get into teaching?
While working on my master’s degree, a classmate asked me what I was going to do after graduating. He was running a program for at-risk youth with the Board of Education and Catholic Charities. The program needed a teacher for an American government/social studies program. I went to the school, liked what I saw, and started right away. It was a very rewarding program, and I enjoyed my time there.

What career did you imagine for yourself when you were in college?
Originally, I wanted to get a Ph.D. in political science. Deep down – I wanted a career as a commercial fisherman. Fishing won out.

What do you love about teaching?
That’s an easy answer: The students. The energy they bring (good and bad) keeps every semester fresh and interesting. Professionally, I’m constantly developing the RADAR simulator and redesigning the motor vessel CUNY 1. Both projects allow me to develop new skill sets only available to me because of my unique job.

What’s your favorite teaching experience?
I love getting a student who has no maritime or boating experience behind the steering wheel of any of our training vessels. To watch them progress from apprehension to one of competence, over the course of a semester, is as good as it gets for me.

In what ways do you bring your professional experience into the classroom?
Nothing can prepare you to teach maritime training than being at sea. Your experiences in ship-handling and engineering, allow you to present the training at a high level. Working in machine shops and shipyards brings a high level of relevancy to the training we do in the maritime program at KCC.

What advice do you have for current students?
Simple answer: maritime engineering. There is no career more in demand than engineers at sea and in power plants. The engineer’s license is the most portable universal document a young person can achieve for a rewarding career in the maritime industry and beyond.

Q&A with Sharon ParkerHow did you get into teaching?
I got into teaching by challenging myself to give seven non-English-speaking Asian students at the NY School of Design the opportunity to learn the technical skills of draping. The students all worked in the fashion field as sample makers or cutters and wanted to explore a new position as a draper. I taught evening and weekend classes to those seven determined students, who mastered the form of draping by simply watching me drape muslin on a dress form. These extraordinary students remarkably surprised me by repeating fashion terms and phrases during the demonstrations. The experience at the NY School of Design, a trade school that first believed in me, was rewarding. The challenges were difficult at times, but the outcome was successful. I do what I love and I love what I do!

What career did you imagine for yourself when you were in college?
While attending the High School of Fashion Industries, I knew exactly the career path I wanted to pursue as I continued my education at Fashion Institute of Technology: I wanted to become a sleepwear/loungewear fashion designer. I promised myself not to just settle for a job, but to aim for a career. The world of fashion has given me so many great opportunities to work with well-known designers, top-notch patternmakers, and the best sample makers who have shared their skillful sewing techniques. I am forever grateful!

What do you love about teaching?
I love motivating and inspiring students to be creative, unique and stylish — to step out of the box! It’s amazing to see the outcome of the creative designs developed by the students. The design begins with a sketch and is executed into a final garment using all the technical tools of the trade as they embark on their career goals in the fashion industry.

What’s your favorite teaching experience?
I have several favorite teaching experiences: I enjoy being a hands-on teacher, taking into account that students learn at their own pace and some require one-on-one lab sessions. I also like seeing the joy and excitement of the students as they showcase their designer’s mini-collection in the annual KCC Fashion Show. I really enjoy teaching senior citizens students from the My Turn Program and students with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the Melissa Riggio Higher Education Program. These programs allow me to interact with the students and help them embrace a new or second career in fashion design. Creativity stimulates the mind and the opportunity for students to express themselves through their designs.

In what ways do you bring your professional experience into the classroom?
I like to share my personal experiences in the classroom through conversations and Q & A sessions. I take my students on a fashion journey ride of 35 years of my professional experiences as a fashion designer/pattern designer in the intimate apparel market, sharing the ups and downs, successes, and remarkable relationships that I still have today with my fashion peers. Students are intrigued and very interested to know all about the fashion industry. And they have many questions regarding their future career in fashion.

What advice do you have for current students?
The advice I have for current students is continue your education and NEVER give up on your dreams. There will be obstacles along your fashion journey but don’t give up on your “Passion for Fashion.”

MICHAEL SOKOLOW
How did you get into teaching?

In 1987, I was an economics major, secretary of Brooklyn College's Corporate Careers Club, and planned to be Alex P. Keaton and go into finance. And then, in my junior year of college, I saw the movie Wall Street, which literally changed my life. I discovered that I did not believe that "Greed Is Good," I did not have it in me to be a corporate shark, and it turned out I wasn't all that motivated by money. Then, outside the campus library, I saw a table with a paper flyer for an interdisciplinary co-major called American Studies, and looked into whether I could complete it in the time I had left. I started taking American history and music courses, and applied for a program called the Ford Colloquium for future college teachers (where I met classmate Eileen Ferretti, who is today the chairperson of KCC's English department). The die was cast. (Also, at the age of five, I played a Munchkin in a summer camp staging of the Wizard of Oz, with a speaking part. I have never been shy in front of a group.)

What career did you imagine for yourself when you were in college?
Beginning with my epiphany 18 months before graduation, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. I was especially inspired to become a professor by some extraordinarily gifted instructors who taught me everything about motivating students, including professors of English, French, opera (!), and history. My first college class ever was an 8:00 AM section of History of the Modern World, taught by then-Brooklyn-College-president Robert L. Hess.  He had quite an effect on my subconscious, because the idea of emulating his Socratic teaching style and erudition began percolating even then.

What do you love about teaching?
The students, the students, the students.  After two pandemic years in my basement instead of a classroom, I am desperate to get back where I belong!  I love the dynamic of a group-learning environment, full of lively back-and-forth, awakening to new ideas and insights, challenging questions – even that one student in the back row surreptitiously checking a cell phone or the ones sneaking a peek at a cheat sheet. I miss them all terribly. I have now missed two full years of being in my classroom, which is the equivalent of one entire Kingsborough student's academic career from start to finish. I am thrilled that we’re back on-campus!

What’s your favorite teaching experience?
I was hired as an adjunct in fall 1992 to teach two sections of African-American history, which was the subject of my master's thesis and later my dissertation.  I was 24 years old with zero solo teaching experience, and was a young white instructor teaching sections comprised almost entirely of students of color. I started off the semester by playing in class a KRS-One hip-hop song called "Why Is That," which asserts that most of the early Bible figures were black. ("Moses had to be of the black race/ Because he spent 40 years in Pharaoh's place.") I asked the students what they thought of the song and its premise, which segued into a discussion about whether they felt I was qualified to teach the subject at hand. In the end, they decided to accept me on a trial basis – and only one student dropped the class. I had an amazing semester learning how to teach, how to be sensitive to student needs, how to overcome barriers in communicating with students, and how to be free in a classroom by trying anything and everything that helped us learn together. We had no podiums or screens, so we ended up rolling a big TV/VCR cart into the room almost every day to watch film and TV clips to go along with my cheap boom box for audio snippets. A semester or two later, my startled and amused department chair asked me to substitute for a section of “Women in U.S. History,” which I am still teaching 28 years later. You could say I specialize in "teaching what I'm not."

In what ways do you bring your professional experience into the classroom?
Like many of my favorite historians, at heart, I am a storyteller who loves to delve deeper into the lives and attitudes of my subjects and present their unique points of view. My master's and Ph.D. theses told the story of a 19th-century Black sailor who left diaries from over 25 years at sea.  Those research and writing experiences taught me a lot about race, class, gender and sexuality, and how to construct and tell stories of individual people and the lives they led.  I try to encourage my students not to judge people of the past through an exclusively modern lens, but instead to understand them on their own terms and in their lived historical contexts.

What advice do you have for current students?
Especially now, don't give up and fade away. In the distance learning environment, it is very easy to stop checking Blackboard and class emails and then simply forget that you are registered for actual classes. Students themselves have identified this to me as one of their biggest personal challenges since we went virtual on March 12, 2020. Find subjects and professors that engage you, learn how to make classwork part of your daily routines, and spend some real effort on just staying connected and up-to-date.  This is a tremendous life skill to have, but nobody else can develop it for you.

Q&A with Laura Spinu-Speech CommunicationHow did you get into teaching?
I always considered myself too shy to be able to actually practice teaching. When I was in college I would often skip - out of fear - classes taught by professors known to require their students to speak up! For a while this seemed like a serious impasse: On the one hand, my background made teaching the only viable career choice but, on the other, my fear of public speaking made it impossible. This all changed when I was a teaching assistant during my master’s program at Stony Brook University, and was told I would have to teach ESL. (At the time I had been in the USA for a very short while and I had no idea what ESL even stood for!) I don’t know how I finally found the courage to open that door and go inside, but it was nothing short of magical: 25 pairs of hopeful eyes looking up at me kindly, respectfully and somehow appearing even more scared than I was! I realized then what appears just as true 19 years later: Teaching is the only career that enables me to combine my interests, skills, motivation, and the different aspects of my personality which I believe are crucial to my self-actualization. A very happy ending indeed!

What career did you imagine for yourself when you were in college?
The career I had dreamt of since childhood was that of veterinarian because I have always loved animals and felt a strong desire to make a positive difference to their lives. I did not become a veterinarian because I was too afraid of the admissions exam. The educational system in Romania, where I grew up, required students to choose their career straight out of high school, and admission to all university programs was based solely on the results of a single strenuous exam or series of exams. In the end, I do not regret this, as I have found many ways of staying connected with animals (starting with having my own pets) and helping the ones in need through volunteering, donations, and advocacy.

What do you love about teaching?
If I had to pick just one thing I love it’s that teaching is always a two-way street in a way that other careers are not. I love that it enables me to make as much of a difference to students’ lives as they make to mine. I help students learn to think as scientists and, in turn, they stimulate my own professional development. My Facebook ‘motto’ describes that quite well: “I teach, but I mostly learn.”

What’s your favorite teaching experience?It is very difficult to choose just one! Generally speaking, I have experienced the deepest fulfillment from situations such as the following: encouraging shy students to be more responsive and assertive, and seeing them overcome their fears; making time to help a student who was in his 70s with a dictionary project he had been working on for the past 17 years; witnessing a student’s change from visible distress (resulting from his social anxiety disorder) to raising his hand to speak up in class and enjoying his class presentations; receiving a letter from a student I often saw during office hours, who had being going through difficult times (to the point where she had to stay in a rehabilitation clinic) thanking me for having helped make that hard time in her life a bit easier. And not least, seeing so many of my students become drawn to research under my guidance, develop their first research projects and present their work at professional conferences, including international conferences held abroad. These outcomes, and many others, are the reason I always tell people that I had the incredible luck of landing my ideal job!

In what ways do you bring your professional experience into the classroom?
Other than refining and redesigning parts of my courses constantly to reflect my newly-acquired knowledge, I like to think that by being outspoken about my training and daily practices as a scientist I am inspiring students to make good choices and incorporate the scientific method to their own lives and their assessment of the world that surrounds them. Above all, I constantly encourage students, especially my mentees as part of CRSP (the CUNY Research Scholars Program) and K-CORE (Kingsborough Collaborative Research & Conference Bootcamp), the undergraduate research program I founded at Kingsborough, to work on topics stemming from my research projects. A fundamental priority in my teaching and my K-CORE initiative is to enhance our students’ success by providing technical skills and arming them with knowledge about the basics of scientific research, leading to a potential career in various STEM disciplines. With the support of the CRSP program, we recently acquired an ultrasound system for speech research, which both my mentees and my regular students will be able to use. The ability to visualize and measure the movements of articulators during everyday activities, such as speaking or swallowing, can really bring research to life in a way that is inspiring for the students.

What advice do you have for current students?
I advise current students to value their education and the doors that it can open for them in the future. No matter where you start in college, it will bring you a step closer to where you want to be. Any course you pursue will provide a great environment for you to develop the critical competencies you need to succeed, such as problem solving, discipline, time management, accountability and self-direction. The community of peers that you can practice these competencies with, and the safe space to do so provided by your institution, are two of the most valuable things about college life. Above all, remember that you will get out what you put in – there really is no excuse for not giving your best to your future self!

Susan SpivackHow did you get into teaching?
When I was in my mid-20s, the chair of the graphic design department at the School of Visual Arts, also a former instructor of mine, contacted me out of the blue and asked if I wanted to teach a graphic design class. I was shocked. I asked him why he called me and he said it was because I was an excellent student, a talented designer and a wonderful role model for his female students in particular. I was flattered and thrilled and began a career that has spanned three decades teaching at the School of Visual Arts, Pratt Institute and, of course, my favorite, Kingsborough Community College.

What career did you imagine for yourself when you were in college?I went to college to become a graphic designer and was fortunate enough to realize my dreams. I worked for several different types of advertising and design firms before opening my own design business. 

What do you love about teaching?I love teaching because it gives me the opportunity to connect with young people, to earn their trust and then be able to guide them. Sometimes that guidance is on their careers and sometimes it’s their personal lives.

What’s your favorite teaching experience?My favorite teaching experiences actually have nothing to do with teaching design. They are the times when a student comes to me with a problem that is bigger than just academics and I am able to help them navigate these difficult issues. Sometimes a student just needs a sensible, caring individual to support and advise them during a difficult time.

In what ways do you bring your professional experience into the classroom?My workday has often been a weave of my work as a designer and my work as a professor. For example, after leaving a meeting at the United Nations, I went straight to class, bubbling with excitement about the new branding system my firm was working on for them. Sharing the details of the meeting and having the students follow along as the project and the semester progressed, they observed, in real time, the world of the professional designer.  Another time, my firm was designing the event graphics for the NYC Marathon and I invited my students to participate by creating sketches. A sketch created by one of my students was developed into an award-winning design!

What advice do you have for current students?My advice for current students is never give up. During an annual meeting I hold advising on transferring to a four-year college, I tell my students about my educational journey. I share that it took me 15 years to get my master’s degree because life kept getting in the way. And I tell them about how I just kept chipping away at it until finally, 15 years later, I was able to graduate with the degree that would open up the door to becoming a professor. It was hard work, but at the end of the day it enabled me to add teaching to my rich professional design life.

Q&A with Petra Symister
How did you get into teaching?
Teaching was a part of my psychology graduate school program because it was assumed that we would become professors at a college or university where we would be conducting research and teaching. In grad school, while we were learning how to carry out research in our discipline, we were teaching assistants for the professors. We had the opportunity to assist a different professor each semester, which allowed us to see different teaching styles in action.  Eventually we would use what we learned in our own classrooms.

What career did you imagine for yourself when you were in college?
I was not required to declare a major until the end of my sophomore year, so I was given an ample amount of time to explore my interests and determine which major would lead me towards the career I wanted. That was fortunate for me because I entered college having no idea what career I should pursue. Initially I was a bit worried about not having a firm idea about my career goals, but I worked hard in all my classes, figured out which subjects I liked and used that to inform my choice of major. By the time I was in my junior year I was certain that I wanted to continue studying psychology and sociology. Although I was not quite sure of the career I wanted to pursue, I knew that studying psychology and sociology would prepare me for it.  As my experience demonstrates, it’s OK not to know what your career goals are the minute you step on campus.

What do you love about teaching?
What I love about teaching is that it allows learners to see themselves and the world in new and interesting ways and helps them make useful, positive changes in their lives.  I often see former students, months or even years after they have taken one of my courses, and they always share with me how something they learned changed the way they perceived themselves and/or others, changed the way they viewed a problem or challenge, or positively affected their actions in some way.

What’s your favorite teaching experience?Surprisingly, my favorite teaching experience occurs outside of the classroom. It is so rewarding to see former students and have them tell me that something that they learned from me has been helpful in their lives or that they decided to study psychology because of my class.

In what ways do you bring your professional experience into the classroom?
Many of my students are unaware of the ways in which your degree can open up a variety of career paths. Students are often surprised when I tell them that my first job after receiving my doctorate in psychology was as a senior research associate at a market research company. Since jobs in market research can involve survey creation and data analysis, two skill sets that are developed in psychology graduate school, I had the perfect training for the job. By sharing this with my students, I can show them how degrees can lead to a variety of careers.

What advice do you have for current students?
Three practical pieces of advice for current students:

  1. Read the syllabus. Your professor will be grateful, and it will make your experience in the class much more pleasant, or at the very least, much more predictable.

  2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Kingsborough has a variety of support programs to assist you. Regardless of the challenge, there is someone here to help.

  3. Don’t give up if there is a bump in your road to success.  The challenges will come. Prepare for them and continue to move toward your goal.

Joseph Terry How did you get into teaching?
At university, a friend of mine said to me “You should become a teacher!” He said this in response to my helping him explain a particular concept in physics. I laughed in his face and answered “never!” Several years later, I took a job at the Writing Center at Kingsborough and, to my surprise, realized how much I enjoyed helping students with their work, both individually and collectively. An opportunity to teach my own course was presented to me and, as they say, the rest is history! I’d stumbled into teaching.

What career did you imagine for yourself when you were in college?
I imagined myself doing research in astrophysics while working for a lab. Having the opportunity to work as an undergraduate assistant in that field helped me to realize that, while I enjoyed such work, it wasn’t for me. I also studied philosophy and had a deep love for that discipline, but I wasn’t sure what to do with it. At that time, I did not think about teaching…

What do you love about teaching?
I love having the opportunity to share my joy and knowledge with others. For me, teaching is a wonderful occasion to journey with students through the fascinating world of philosophy, while exploring the perennial questions that, in one sense, are part of our mother tongue as human beings! I also enjoy the experience of watching them make connections, both intellectually and with each other, as a community of learners.  

What’s your favorite teaching experience?
I’ve been fortunate to have many memorable experiences, but a few stand out. One time, a class discussion was so engaging no one wanted to leave when our session came to an end. Another time, I took a class out near the beach and discussed with them the nature of reality, causality, and change. What makes these and other experiences stand out to me is the level of engagement and connection we felt. These were moments that felt as if time stopped.

In what ways do you bring your professional experience into the classroom?
I try to model for students a certain type of questioning that is decisive for philosophical inquiry. In addition, I seek to cultivate within them a particular kind of disposition that is akin to wonder, awe, and curiosity – essential ingredients for the soul of a philosopher.

What advice do you have for current students?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Courage is essential, especially when it comes to pursuing truth since one may in fact discover something one did not expect. This, however, is a gift, because a new world is opening before you – one that invites you to explore! 

Q&A with Michael WeisbergHow did you get into teaching?
I started teaching as a graduate student. Most colleges and universities provide the opportunity for (or require) their graduate students to teach undergraduate courses. On the other hand, graduate students often make the best teachers because they are often very excited by their subject area and are anxious to share their knowledge with other students. Relaying the love you have for your subject area is a key part of successful teaching. 

What career did you imagine for yourself when you were in college?
I loved geology and thought I would work in industry, such as for mining or energy companies. I also considered the environmental-related industry. When I entered the graduate program in geology at Brooklyn College, I applied for and was offered a part-time job to work at the American Museum of Natural History. The position was to help work on research projects with the museum’s curator of meteorites. This opened me to the world of meteorite and planetary studies. The meteorite curator, Martin Prinz. eventually became my mentor. He loved his work and he made the research work seem like fun to do and it was fun to be part of a research team. My other mentor was Professor C. E. Nehru from Brooklyn College, who also has a love for geology and meteorite research. His course in optical mineralogy was one of the classes that really got me interested in studying rocks and minerals. I still work with Nenru today. In fact, we just recently published a paper together. 

What do you love about teaching?
I love sharing my knowledge and informing students about the natural environment around them. One of the best parts of teaching is when a student has a conversation with you about the subject and you can tell from the conversation that they have a new understanding of the world. 

What’s your favorite teaching experience?My favorite experience is when I have inspired a student to consider majoring in my subject area. I had a student who started in geology by taking an introductory earth science course with me and eventually came back to me to do graduate work as a PhD student. 

In what ways do you bring your professional experience into the classroom?
There are so many good stories that I relay to students that make learning fun. However, I also like to directly show students what I do. I generally take them into professional active laboratories either at the college, the American Museum of Natural History or the CUNY Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC).

What advice do you have for current students?
Get involved in research with a mentor as early as possible, through college programs and/or internships. Many universities and museums offer summer internships for undergrads. Also, read and absorb as much information as you can. You always want people to see you as someone who is well-informed and can speak confidently about your own area of interest, as well as other areas and current issues. Plus, you never know where inspiration will come from.