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What Higher Education Means to Me

June 03, 2024

By Fatima Magana '22

ALLIANCE- National Higher Education Day is June 6, a day when faculty and staff members celebrate the 'highs' and 'lows' that the academic year presented to them while helping students achieve their goals. Watching students grow throughout the years in college brings out the best in many faculty, recalling why they chose higher education as a long-term career. As June 6 approaches, faculty at the University of Mount Union discuss why they chose Mount Union as their 'home.'

Kevin Kern, professor of theatre, began his theatrical journey in Los Angeles, California as a drama major at California Lutheran University, leading him to gain experience in acting and directing as a graduate student at Brandeis University. Kern’s passion for theatre allowed him to discover the endless opportunities that education offers to professionals in distinct fields.


Kevin Kern (second from right) teaches students in an acting course

“The PhD is not the only terminal degree in academia; in fact, in my discipline, there is no PhD,” said Kern. “I realized that by working as a professor, I could do all the things I love (directing, acting, and teaching theatre) under one roof.”

Already a theatre professor in Florida, Kern found out that Mount Union had a theatre program and was considering building a new theatre, therefore, he applied for the open faculty position in the early 2010s. Years later, Kern not only teaches and passes his passion onto his students through lectures but teaches them that this field requires dedication as he continues enhancing his acting and directing skills, traveling to theatres outside the city of Alliance to direct plays when Mount Union is not in session.

Although I’m a little young to think about what I will leave behind after retiring, my legacy will be Shakespeare at The Castle, a professional theatre company in residence at Mount Union, which was created 11 years ago. My favorite moments are opening nights of the plays I direct, watching all the elements come together as every student in the Department of Performing Arts are all immersed in doing the things they love to do to create these beautiful productions. 

Dr. Amber Hunt, director of the school of business and associate professor of finance, began her career in the business industry as a student at Mount Union, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in business administration. This field of study led Hunt to discover her interest in financial management and public finance, which allowed her to pursue a PhD in public administration and urban studies upon earning an MBA.

Dr. Amber Hunt '03

“I started my teaching career at a different university, but I always had my eye on Mount Union,” said Hunt. “When the position opened, I was excited just to visit campus again during the interview process, and that’s when I knew this was the best next step in my career.”

Before entering her role as a Mount Union faculty member, Hunt spent 10 years as a higher education administrator, learning how to manage a university and schools within it as well as academic programs offered to students. Inspired by her teaching experience at the University of Akron, Hunt decided to pursue a doctorate degree that would allow her to move up the ‘corporate ladder’ of higher education; Hunt found her forever career preparing students not only to achieve their goals, but to make their mark in this field.

For me, every time a student comes into my office smiling ear to ear with their first job offer is a favorite moment as a professor. I want students to look back on their experience in the School of Business and know that hard work is fun [and rewarding]!

Dr. Robert “Bob” Woodward, associate professor of chemistry, entered college with aspirations of attending medical school, double majoring in biology and chemistry because of his experience as a chemistry student. Building a skillset in the lab while conducting research, Woodward realized that his favorite experience as a student was conducting research on how an anticancer drug works and affects the [human] body, and this was thanks to chemistry.

Dr. Woodward at a Departmental Exploration Day

“Ultimately, it was this desire to understand the chemistry underlying biological processes that led me to pursue my graduate studies in Organic Chemistry wherein my research efforts were focused once again on the interface chemistry and biology,” said Woodward.

Combining his passion for both biology and chemistry as well as for conducting research in the field led Woodward to choose higher education as a long-term career. Inspired by a tutor-to-student interaction he held with an aspiring veterinarian student, Woodward chose to become a chemistry professor because helping this student study and prepare to enter veterinary school taught Woodward about education and how he could impact people’s lives.

Higher education for these Mount Union faculty members and many others means watching their students grow into successful professionals upon graduating. While guiding and teaching students how to navigate their career fields, these faculty members can relive their fondness for their own collegiate experiences through them.