Personal education, part three: Work and Play
RELEASED: May 18, 2006
We recently surveyed Centre College students to obtain examples of the "personal education" side of the "personal education/extraordinary success" Centre promises. The response was overwhelming. Here, in the last of a multi-part series, Centre students talk about how their professors and staff friends interact with them, both at work and play, and how those seemingly ordinary encounters can have extraordinary results.
Caitlin Rhodes, freshman, Louisville
My story is about Peggy Richey [professor of biology and biochemistry]. It was my first semester at Centre, my first semester EVER of college! I'd taken Introductory Bio on a whim, even though I was terrible at AP Bio in high school. A month into the course, Professor Richey asked everyone in the class—mind you, this is a Gen-Ed so there are about 30 people—to take a sheet of paper and write about a particular topic that either catches your interest, or anything you're having trouble with. The majority of students described a concept that was unclear; I chose pH. Within TWO HOURS after class let out, I'd received a lengthy e-mail from Prof. Richey thoroughly explaining pH, with two or three extra links to other websites explaining pH even more!I was amazed at how much extra attention a professor would put into a first semester, freshman intro class, answering 30 different requests in a matter of hours! It made me realize the amazing attentiveness every single student receives here at Centre; I wasn't even a declared bio major at the time, but after realizing how interesting and worthwhile Professor Richey made the subject, I'm now considering it as a major!
Josh Gwinn, sophomore, Gallatin, Tenn.
The religion department organized a Passover Seder to educate us about Jewish traditions. My international studies advisor, Nayef Samhat [Hower Associate Professor of Government and International Studies], came and sat with me at a table in Nichols Dining Room. We talked about various things, including the class I had with him last semester. We went through the Seder together, having a mutually new experience. This brought a new form of education to both of us and we learned together, making him my educational peer. This was a wonderful experience that showed me the value professors place in connecting with students outside of class.
Emily Roach, junior, Louisville
Robert S. Colter [assistant professor of philosophy] has been a huge part of why I love Centre... and I'm not just saying this to earn a good grade in the two classes I currently have with him. After having him for Humanities 110 during my first semester here, I took more classes with him and eventually became a philosophy major. My favorite class of all has been PHI 370, "20th-Century Analytic Philosophy." There were only nine students in the class. Each meeting, one of us would present that day's reading, and Dr. Colter would sit with us in the classroom chairs while we debated the theories espoused. Occasionally, we needed him to rein us in and get us back on track, but he allowed us each the time to speak for ourselves and be heard. At the end of the semester, all of us (Elisha, Conrad, Taylor, Cassidy, Dustin, Matt, Blandford, Kramer, and myself) were all invited to his house to watch Waking Life. He provided us with snacks and drinks, as well as plenty of embarassing pictures from HIS college days—yes, he had a mullet. By the time I graduate, I will have taken nine courses with him, including my Senior Seminar.
Shannon Mockler, senior, Westfield, Ind.
I have had a couple personal experiences with Dr. [David] Anderson [Blazer Associate Professor of Economics] during my tenure at Centre. This is one of the best, though. He along with Mr. [Jamey] Leahey [instuctor of government and director of gift planning and associate college counsel] took a class of students to Hawai'i for CentreTerm 2006. We (the students) obviously got to know our professors and their families quite well. During the bus rides, Dr. A. loved to lead sing-alongs of old camp songs. Really, it was quite interesting and we got a glimpse of his singing "abilities." One evening on the trip, we discovered a Karaoke Bar near our hotel and Dr. Anderson convinced the people to card at the bar instead of at the door and let our class in. We spent several hours rocking this tiny little beach bar with all of our crazy Centre College ways, but the absolute best part of the night was when Dr. Anderson sang! He did two songs, Michael Jackson's "Billy Jean" (completely in falsetto) and also the song "Cocaine" by Eric Clapton ... but he replaced the word "Cocaine" with "econ." It was HILARIOUS! Gosh, a night at the bar singing karaoke with my professor in Hawai'i during January. How good can it get?
Yves Nkulikiye, sophomore, Streamwood, Ill.
I usually play soccer on the weekends with Dr. [Andrei]Maximenko [visiting assistant professor of international studies] and Dr. [Alex] McAllister [associate professor of mathematics]. Dr. Maximenko is going to play in the upcoming mini-worldcup, where the Spanish, Germany, French and international student association teams are going to play each other.
Jim Brehm, junior, Cincinnati, Ohio
At the end of my junior year Professor Wilma Brown was retiring. As a gift to us she took all the junior education majors to Two Roads Café for a wonderful dinner! This fun and relaxed atmosphere allowed us to laugh and enjoy all the stories we had with her over the last three years.
Matt Kowaleski, sophomore, Springboro, Ohio
Near the end of my first semester, Dr. [Preston] Miles [Walkup Professor of Chemistry] sent out an invitation to us for a Christmas party at his house over the weekend. When we arrived at his home we were really surprised by how much effort he had put into making sure we had a great time.When we got there Dr. Miles told us that we were welcome to take his truck and cut down a few Christmas trees on his farm to take back and have for our dorm rooms.We had such a great time, but one of the mishaps we ran into was getting his truck stuck in the mud. We spent a few hours winching his truck loose, then finally made it back to his house with a few Christmas trees in the truck bed.
When we got back, Dr. Miles had several foods prepared for us and we had Christmas dinner. When we started back [to campus] we had a rough time with the Christmas trees, having to stop every few miles because one of the trees would fall off the roof of our car.
When we finally made it back we got into a bit of trouble because, little did we realize, we were not allowed to have them in the dorms, apparently due to fire hazard. I think they were cleaning up the needles in Nevin for the next several months. Regardless, we had a great time!
Rhiannon Ledgerwood, freshman, Stony Brook, N.Y.
In my CHE135 class, we had a tree-cutting party at Dr. Miles' house in the fall semester. We all drove out to his house and his wife made us excellent food. Some of us watched a football game. The rest who wanted to brave the cold went out with Dr. Miles and cut down trees. I think Chase Wilson took two trees back with him on the roof of his car. We also talked about the end of CHE135, most of us in joyful glee. It was a tough class, but Dr. Miles really made it enjoyable. Dr. Miles is a little bit eccentric, but we all love him for it.
Sarah Humphrey, freshman, Owensboro, Ky.
In Intro to Economics, Professor [James] Leady [visiting assistant professor of economics] organizes experiments for the class to perform on computers. The results of the experiments illustrate the various concepts we cover in class, and after each experiment the computer determines who the winners are (for example, who gained the most from his/her trade). Professor Leady's incentive for us to try our best with the experiments is to take the winners out to lunch, whatever restaurant they choose.
I was fortunate enough to win a round of a particularly tricky experiment (or so I'd like to think of it!) and joined Professor Leady and three other students for a fiesta at La Hacienda. We all got to know Professor Leady better as a friend and family member, not just as our economics professor. I've never had such a casual experience with a teacher before, and I really enjoyed how relaxing and fun it can be.
Tracy Madryga, junior, Goshen, Ky.
I think all of the professors I've had at Centre College do a really good job of trying to get to know each student personally and put a lot of energy into their jobs. Dr. [Donna] Plummer [associate professor of education] is one professor who really puts so much into her job and is genuinely interested in the lives of her students. Around every holiday, she gives all of her education students pencils and erasers—the kind that have designs on them—to match the theme of the holiday. Even this semester, while she's been on sabbatical, she has made sure that we get our pencils for special holidays! I probably have a bigger collection of pencils now than most first-graders do! It's just little things like that that help students know that the professors here truly care about their students.
Spanish professors are really good, too, about inviting students over to their houses for elaborate dinners at the end of each term. I think in every single Spanish class I've taken at Centre, I've been invited to my professor's houses for an end of the term fiesta!!
Michael Swartzentruber, senior, Goshen, Ky.
Dr. [Ruben] Dupertuis [visiting assistant professor of religion] has been a major influence in my life because of his work inside and outside the classroom. Not only does he take great care in his teaching, but he gets involved with students on campus. My freshman year he played pick-up basketball with students all the time, and the past two years he has joined myself and some other students to play intramural softball. Not only was he fun to play with because of the energy and enthusiasm that he has for the game (both of which he also has for teaching), but he managed to develop a stealthy strategy for pitching that propelled us to the IM championship game last year, which of course, we won.
Brian Grieb, junior, Louisville
In the spring of my freshman year, I was interested in coaching a youth soccer team. I had seen Dr. [Alex] McAllister coaching his son's team at Millennium Park, so I asked him how to sign-up. He said registration had already passed, but that I was welcome to help him with his son's team. This spring will be the fifth season Dr. McAllister and I have coached together. Our team doesn't always win, but we have a lot of fun teaching the kids about soccer (or at least attempting to do so).
Jenn Siewertsen, sophomore, Prospect, Ky.
I've had so many great experiences outside of the classroom with my professors. Whether it’s meeting for coffee at the cafe, trading quirky emails or being invited to their house I feel like my relationship with my professor goes beyond the lecture hall and the classroom material. Once my lab partner didn't show up for lab and my professor went so far as to pour her a cup of coffee and suggest we head over there and get her out of bed! Luckily for my partner a phone call was all it took to get her into lab. It's been really great to get to see my professors as actual people and not just professors.
Karen Biscopink, junior, Loveland, Ohio
During an American Literature course last year, several students informed Dr. [Milton] Reigelman [Cowan Professor of English] that they would be unable to attend an after-hours study session due to other commitments. Dr. Reigelman immediately suggested the few of us meet up for our own study session, and that evening when we met at his office, he suggested a walk during which we could discuss the course material. To our surprise (and definitely to our happiness) we ended up at Freddie's Restaurant, where Dr. Reigelman treated us all to a delicious Italian dinner all the while discussing Henry James and our other current reads. This just furthered my appreciation of the close-knit Centre community, as well as my knowledge of the very unique faculty-student bond that exists at Centre College.
Melissa Hope, senior, Granbury, Texas
This year in 3-on-3 women's intramural basketball, my team (me, Kaki Marcrum, and Charlotte Noe), as former champions, had a bye for the first game, played the staff team for our second win, and then when we were about to win our next game, I went down with a severe ankle injury. Our team had to then forfeit because we had no subs. I was devastated. Well, just before CentreTerm, both Kaki and Charlotte transferred to new schools. I thought for sure there would be no way to get a team together for 5-on-5, but Centre staff came to the rescue! Thanks to Jami Powell (IT), Gina Nicoletti (athletics), Sarah Hughes, and Jessica Chisley (athletics)...as well as other students (Nikki Smith, Erin Pace, Amanda Nall, Bailey Sewell, Sarah Sheeran)...we now had a team.
We went on to win the Championship and get T-shirts! But mostly, I enjoyed becoming more acquainted with them as we cheered each other on, planned strategies, ran full court, turned blue-in-the-face, and laughed as the staff ran circles around the young and "fit" Centre students, and even more importantly, we all become better friends off the court.
Another time, something came up and Phyllis Passariello [professor of anthropology] was unable to go pick up her daughter from the Louisville airport. I offered to pick her daughter up since I;d already planned to make a run in to Louisville at some point that month. The weather was perfect that day and as I was dropping Professor Passariello's daughter off, she reimbursed me for my for gas expenses and then invited my to stay for dinner.
Well, I was in for a real treat. Professor Passariello is of Italian lineage ... and she certainly has the cooking skills to prove it...YUM! As we sat on her patio, we just enjoyed the lovely weather and had a delightful dinner with the family. I could hardly thank her enough ... sure beats Cowan ... So to wrap up my last semester as a Centre student, I made sure I signed up for her Maya class. It's a wonderful way to spice-up my usually mostly-all-science course load and I love it!
Erin Murphy, freshman, Louisville
My first Centre term class was with Dr. [Lori] Hartmann-Mahmud [assistant professor of international studies], an extraordinary professor here. Our class was called "African Politics in Fiction and Film," and seeing as Dr. Hartmann has spent so much time in Africa, she decided that we'd spend a day in true African style: with no watches, phones, or knowledge of time whatsoever. We started class in the morning as usual, but put all of our clocks into a bowl. We had our discussion until we were ready to finish, and when we got hungry, our class decided by consensus when and where we would eat lunch. So we went to the Grille together and returned to the classroom when finished. But instead of starting class right away, we had some down time where we turned off all the lights, napped, read, or just had quiet time while Clayton [Carden] played his guitar for us. We made yet another consensus when we were ready to start class again, and we proceeded to continue our discussion from the morning. It was a wonderful feeling doing what we pleased when we desired, and everyone truly enjoyed the day, and none of it would have been possible without the encouragement, enthusiasm, and experience of Dr. Hartmann-Mahmud.
Jillian Kenyon, freshman, Shelbyville, Ky.
Dr. [Rachel] Peltier [visiting assistant professor of psychology] always had her door open for students to come and talk with her. As a student in her class, I came in to ask questions and got to know her really well. I inquired about what courses to take in order to get a psychology major and how to prepare myself for graduate school—something that I doubt a lot of professors at other schools would do for a freshman. This summer I'm working at a special needs camp for mentally and physical challenged adults and children in Ashley, Ohio. Without her inspiration and her guidance, I don't know what direction I'd be heading in now. She always invites her students to come into her office and visit, and I look forward to keeping in contact with her over the summer and in the future.
Bobby Cassady, freshman, Lancaster, Ky.
Outside of school I'm involved in a group called CREEC that is focused on restoring Clark's Run to a wonderful creek. At the last tree-planting event I had the pleasure to work with Rose-Marie Roessler (biology lab coordinator), Preston Miles, and Patrick Noltemeyer of student life. I guess there are two funny things that happened that Saturday morning. First off, when we first started to work we had to unload some pine trees off of a trailer. Apparently Dr. Miles thought they were light and grabbed one of them with great strength. The look on his face when he discovered that the tree actually weighed a couple of hundred pounds was priceless. I'm not sure if he knows the hilarious, surprise/strain look he had on his face but it was wonderful.
On the other hand I've had several funny experiences with Mrs. Roessler as well. She is wonderful and is great inside and outside of school and I think of her as a friend more than I do as a teacher. With that said, the funny part is that one day while we working out at the wildlife refuge, we had decided to cut down some brush and burn it. The problem was that brush would not burn, so her husband insisted on soaking it with tons and tons of kerosene. Well, I guess this wasn't that funny, but being able to laugh out in the woods with a teacher is great.
Justin Atkins, senior, Danville, Ky.
One interaction that I can think of occurred last summer when I worked for Centre's Facilities Management department. Roy Edmiston, a painter here at Centre, and I would often play racquetball together after work. This experience introduced me to a new sport that I now enjoy on somewhat of a regular basis, and helps to keep me in the gym.
Mitch Hobbs, freshman, Louisville
I don't have any particularly unusual stories or moments where I've hung out with a particular professor. I did go to Dr.[William] Levin's [professor of art history] home with the rest of my orientation group the night of author Sena Jeter Naslund's talk. We sat around eating pie with Dr. Levin and his wife while we discussed Naslund's book, our upcoming college days, and art. It was such a laid-back and fresh experience. I don't think I would have ever experienced anything like that at a larger school. It was also a night where I realized that Centre was not just a great place academically, but an openly friendly and accepting environment as well. I knew immediately that Centre was a place I felt comfortable calling home.
Daniel Saman, junior, Lebanon, Ky.
A really interesting thing happened on a recent CentreTerm trip to Washington D.C., with Gareth Barkin [assistant professor of anthropology] and his "Islam and Media" course. Both Andrei Maximenko [visiting assistant professor of international studies] and Dr. Barkin's class (nearly 50 together) went out to eat at an Ethiopian restaurant. It was a great dinner! They brought a communal platter (one for every four or five people) and I was eating with Gareth and Thiri Myat ’08. Most students had never eaten at an Ethiopian restaurant and the dinner received mixed reviews but it was a great experience nonetheless.
Steele Medaris, junior, Danville, Ky.
This past summer while working in Sutcliffe Hall Dean [William] Johnston [associate dean and Stodghill Professor of Mathematics] came in and we started talking about racquetball. After a few more discussions over the next few days we ended up playing a heated game of racquetball. I am pretty sure he won, but it was quite a battle.
Morgan Cobb, junior, Corbin, Ky.
When I studied in Strasbourg, Dr. [Mark] Rasmussen [associate professor of English] was my program director. He seemed like a pretty cool guy (the hair kinda gives it away!) and we came to know each other after a few weeks. One Saturday afternoon we took a tiny train to a village in the Black Forest of Germany, so we could go hiking. We hiked all day amidst the gorgeous autumn landscape, up hills and mountains, past fairy tale waterfalls...and KEPT ON hiking. He was a machine! Dr Rasmussen always strides ahead and obviously is in much better shape than I, even at age 21! He showed absolutely NO sign of fatigue. I had withered by the end of the day, and slept something like 13 hours that night. I was so sore the next day that I was walking funny! I had never planned on telling him what a wimp I was (for the sake of my pride), but we're still pals and I hope you publish this cause I have a feeling he'd have a good laugh.
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