Professor and Therapist
In addition to being a professor at Mount Union, I am also a marriage and family therapist. I always knew that I wanted to become a therapist who works with children and families, but teaching happened by accident. While finishing my doctorate at Ohio State, I was asked at the last minute to teach an undergraduate course in early childhood development. Within the first half-hour of teaching, I knew this was exactly what I was going to be doing as a career; I just had to find a place like Mount Union to land.
One of my most memorable professional accomplishments is starting a course on the psychology of humor. I’ve been researching and studying humor since my undergraduate days at Ohio State, and it has always been a goal of mine. Courses on this topic are few and far between around the world, which is odd since it’s a course that is both inherently exciting and interesting to study (and teach).
Roller Coaster Fun
I want my courses to be an experience, not just a class. I work hard to develop fun, exciting experiential activities in every course I teach so that students get a hands-on feel for what they are reading about and listening to. The best example of this is probably the Face Your Fear project in Abnormal Psychology. Every fall, a portion of my students in that course are identified as having a roller coaster phobia, and they get some free group therapy. The whole class witnesses how a diagnosis is diagnosed and treated in real-time as the project culminates in a trip to Cedar Point where the phobia-group students get to show off how the therapeutic techniques work while they conquer their phobias. It’s fun.
Human Development and Family Science
Human development and family science is new to Mount Union, but it was my focus at The Ohio State University. In conjunction with Dr. Piker-King in the Department of Sociology, we created an interdisciplinary major that focuses on how individuals and relationships develop and change over time, and how they evolve, adapt and are influenced by society. Plus, it came at no cost to the University, and is already attracting a number of students.
Best Part of the Job
I get excited to come to work, and when I’m in the classroom, I have one of those jobs where you don’t feel like you’re working. I have a lot of fun nearly every day.
I actually like the library, because it’s the only place where I can still get lost on a daily basis due to its confusing and oddly designed layout. Plus, there is free coffee for faculty on floor 2. (If you can find it!)
What Makes Mount Union Unique
Seriously, I don’t want to give the canned answer of “smaller classrooms” or “relationships with teachers.” What really makes us stand out is the fact that Mount Union students can benefit from the experiences that they would find at a huge research campus combined with the advantages of a small liberal-arts school. At many places, it’s an either-or choice, but somehow we have found a way to blend the two wonderfully.
I don’t think students know how good they have it here. In our department, we give them the option to do an internship, and all have an opportunity to get hands-on experience both performing and participating in research projects. In addition to (hopefully) becoming better-rounded, the ability to actually interact and get to know their professors on a personal basis will serve them well. They are more than prepared for the next step, whatever that may be.