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Not just a profession – a passion: Eight professors honored with Distinguished Faculty Awards

By Caroline Gordon, Emily Rosenberg, Ryan O'Connell

Kimberly Arditte Hall, College of Social Sciences and Education

Prior to teaching at FSU, Kimberly Arditte Hall worked on psychological research and scholarship during her post-doctoral fellowship in women’s mental health at the National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at the Veterans Administration Boston Healthcare System.

Arditte Hall said since she began teaching at FSU, she has started her own psychology research lab called the Research and Emotion Cognition and Psychopathology Lab (RECAP).

She said she is “really proud” of her lab as it is now “fully functional and currently running”

She added she has two students currently working as her research assistants in the lab, and she has one student using data from the lab for their honor’s thesis.

Arditte Hall explained that all three students will be presenting original research that they have conducted in collaboration with her at the Massachusetts Undergraduate Research Conference and the Center for Excellence in Learning, Teaching, Scholarship and Service conference.

In addition to the lab she started on campus, Arditte Hall said she collaborates with other hospitals and universities in the greater Boston area and nationally.

She won the Excellence in Scholarship Award and said she felt “really excited” when she received the news.

“I actually saw a congratulatory email before I saw the email announcing me as the winner of the Scholarship Award. So, it also made me feel really happy because it made me feel connected to a lot of people in the community, which during the pandemic felt hard, so it was nice to feel connected.”

Kenneth Grunes, College of Business

At 21, Kenneth Grunes was the youngest to earn an MBA from Boston College. He was also a sales and marketing associate for several computer tech companies. Grunes was happy and satisfied with his career, but always thought there was something special about being in front of a classroom.

He began as an adjunct professor at Bentley College in 1982. Grunes said over the past 40 years “students haven’t changed” as they still come to class with varying degrees of preparation and all want to learn.

Grunes said his favorite part of teaching is letting the students discover their most effective way to learn.

“Not any two people learn the same way,” he said. “I have to tap into how each individual learns, whether it be some directly, maybe doing some role playing exercises, team projects and so forth.”

He added he does not think standing in front of a class lecturing is an effective way to learn, and he said he barely talked in his last two classes.

A typical class for Grunes includes teamwork, sometimes with competition. He said they are always “self directed.” He said sometimes they do treasure hunts, scavenger hunts, and have even explored the University tunnels.

He said when discussing post-college jobs, he prefers to refer to them as “career jobs” so as not to minimize what students are doing now in part-time work. Therefore when thinking of skills that will b transferable to career jobs, he said he hopes that while a lot of them may not have the title “manager,” they at least have those aspirations to move up in the organization.

Grunes advised students to develop their own code of ethics because it will gain people’s respect for them.

“It will give you independence, self worth, self-assured competence that you need. If you’re always feeling that you have to hide out and you’re not being your true self, you’re not being authentic, then you’re not only cheating yourself, but the company because they hire the whole of you.”

Andrea Kozol, College of STEM

As an undergraduate anthropology major working at the Museum of Science, Andrea Kozol’s path to being a biology professor at Framingham State wasn’t always linear.

After graduating from Boston University, she took a class on animal behavior at Harvard. Kozol said she had an “epiphany,” and asked the professor what she could do to get a Ph.D. in biology with a bachelor’s in anthropology.

After earning her Ph.D., she taught at Indiana University before starting a family and taking a break.

She said while earning her Ph.D., she had a lot of opportunities to teach when she realized it was her true passion. “I realized I was more in love with teaching than with doing research,” she said.

When her kids were old enough to go to preschool, she took a part-time position at FSU.

Kozol also started an animal education program for elementary schools. During the education program, they take a one-day visit to a school to supplement the curriculum. Kozol said she and her business partner made 50-60 visits to schools per year, and she raised the invertebrates in her house, such as cockroaches, beetles, and giant grasshoppers.

She said what she loves most about teaching at Framingham is making connections with students. She teaches primarily non-biology majors who either do not like science or don’t think they’re good at it. To engage students, she uses stories of living organisms and how they’ve solved the problem of survival.

“You start talking about diabetes, and they have a family member who is diabetic ... or you’re talking about some amazing adaptation and they noticed a bird that morning,” Kozol said.

She added, sometimes she’ll make a connection in her own head she’d never thought of before, which is another exciting moment in the classroom.

Kozol said her major goal is to get students to look at the world differently the moment they walk out of the classroom. “I hope that learning the process of observation and curiosity and asking questions becomes something they use anytime they’re walking around outside.”

She added the scientific method is a crucial tool to apply not just to science, but everything in one’s life such as opinions and false information on social media.

“Leave your preconceptions at the door,” is her advice for students. “If you say, ‘I’m not good at science, or, ‘I can’t do this,’ I don’t buy that.”

She said she’d much rather have a student answer a question and give her the wrong answer than wait to deliver the right answer.

“Learning involves making mistakes and we all make them. Evolution requires mistakes,” she added. “Believe in yourself, make more mistakes, take risks.”

Holly Pearson, College of Social Sciences and Education

As a child who practiced martial arts and gymnastics, Holly Pearson never imagined herself taking on the role of professor.

Pearson has been teaching at Framingham State since 2017. Back then, she was a Miles Bibb Fellow.

The Miles Bibb fellowship honors Mary Miles Bibb’s legacy as an abolitionist and her dedication to the education of fugitive slaves. It is “designed to bring scholars to the university with the ultimate goal of changing the professoriate at FSU and beyond,” according to the Framingham State website.

Pearson’s focus is disability studies and activism for institutional change in higher education.

She said institutional change has been hard to achieve, but it’s a worthwhile effort.

“It really has to come from all the stakeholders,” she said. “Everyone including the students, the faculty, the staff, because oftentimes it is centered around particular voices.”

She added traditional change can be hard because people live in an individualistic society. “The work is about learning about ourselves, thinking about, critically, ‘how can we collaborate?’”

Pearson said her favorite thing about teaching is engaging with students. “And it has been an ongoing investment,” she said. “Building that relationship with everyone that is in the classroom with me is so powerful because not only do I share my vulnerability, but over time, they often share their vulnerability and together we share a greater sense of what it means to be human.”

She added she loves to find innovative ways to help students learn content such as going on walks outside and finding personal connections to what they learn, like “blasting” their favorite song in class.

She added sometimes she struggles to see herself through the classic model of a teacher, and dislikes how people put so much emphasis on the power differential between teacher and student.

“It is through [the world of disability studies] where it allowed me to find my voice and realize as a teacher you are also being an activist,” Pearson said.

“All of us have wisdom,” she said. “It’s not like students walk into the classroom [without any knowledge] and I’m the one that dumped all this knowledge into them. ... I love it because I get to advocate and learn from each one of the people that are in my classroom with me.”

Sandra Rahman, College of Business

Sandra Rahman has been with FSU for 20 years teaching classes such as Marketing Principles, International Business, and Doing Business Abroad. She holds a bachelor’s degree in management and a master’s in business administration from Suffolk University.

In 2000 she completed her doctorate in business administration at Nova Southeastern University in Florida. For her dissertation she traveled to factories in Bangladesh, and researched the use of child labor.

Rahman said she brought her love of travel and international business with her to Framingham, and she has traveled with students to China, Brazil, Costa Rica, Russia, and Dubai multiple times.

“It’s important to have an international perspective. Because you understand the United States better, and you understand people’s issues and concerns, so I think it makes you a better global citizen,” she said.

Rahman also said she enjoyed involving students in challenging and practical situations.

Her senior strategic marketing class is currently engaging in a “real marketing challenge” by creating a marketing campaign for a small California brewery start-up. She said students even get the opportunity to speak to the executives every month over Zoom.

She said she has had many proud moments as a professor at FSU, but specifically remembered a time when she encouraged a deaf student to attend a class trip to Montreal. She said because he needed an interpreter, she contacted CASA, and the University paid for an interpreter.

Shelli Waetzig, College of STEM

Shelli Waetzig’s passion for chemistry blossomed at the University of Kansas where she earned her Ph.D.

During her time at FSU, she has fostered that passion through her teaching of Organic Chemistry I and II, Special Topics: Advanced Organic Chemistry, Special Topics: Structural Determination of Organic Compounds, and Chemical Research I.

This year, she won the Excellence in Advising Award, which she said she feels “very honored and surprised” to have won.

She said what “drove” the faculty advising award was the work she has been conducting with students in health related fields, where she advises students early in their academic careers and provides them with the tools they need to succeed during their time at FSU.

Waetzig added that she helps students with their graduate school applications.

“I want to be a sounding board for them because the application processes to any post-graduate program are difficult and to have someone who can help guide you through it, is an important thing we can offer at Framingham State,” she said.

She said she feels “accomplished” because she is able to support students on their academic journeys and because faculty members are acknowledging the importance of advisors.

Waetzig said, “I am grateful that people acknowledge the efforts that I am trying to make in order to better things for the students.”

She said students need to be advocates for themselves and that students should not be afraid to approach faculty members.

“I think a lot of the reasons faculty are here at Framingham State is because they do enjoy teaching and they do enjoy interacting with the students – one of the perks of Framingham State,” she said.

She added, “Students need to know that we will be on their side and that they need to take advantage of all the help you can get.”

Fei Yu, College of Arts and Humanities

Fei Yu is a visiting lecturer at FSU, and the only professor to currently o^er Chinese language courses. She holds a master’s in applied linguistics from Shanghai University, and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Yu said she is researching the teaching of foreign languages and their curriculums, and studying how students learn. She added her work is very focused on the classroom, and figuring out how she can best help students.

Yu said she most enjoys keeping her students at the center of her classes, and the communication she has with them is one of her favorite aspects of teaching. She emphasized she has learning objectives, but also encourages students to have their own voice in the class and help guide learning.

She added small class sizes of about 15 helped her to interact more with individual students. She said she incorporates projects that test students’ knowledge in the real world, such as traveling to Chinatown to analyze the Chinese characters used in signage.

Yu said it is important to have students practice so they can use this knowledge later in their lives. She explained how she has family members record phrases to help students discern accents, and they even talk to Chinese students learning English.

“At the end of the semester, the ESL program students come to our classroom to present what they learned about English – what they learned about American culture. And our students try to use what they have learned ... to interview all the students from China,” she said.

Yu said she really enjoyed seeing students becoming comfortable with the language and culture, and wishes more students would step out of their comfort zone to take foreign languages.

She said she would like people to know that FSU has a Chinese program and offers a Chinese minor, adding the classroom environment is always a fun and relaxed way to learn a new language.

Julia Zoino-Jeannetti, College of Social Sciences and Education

Prior to teaching at FSU, Julia Zoino-Jeanetti’s passion for teaching began as a high-school teacher of interdisciplinary humanities in Boston. She also worked as a GED coordinator and instructor in a community-based adult education program.

Zoino-Jeannetti won the Excellence in Service Award for being the team leader for the State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education State Program Review for the FSU Teacher Education Program.

She said the FSU Teacher Education Program must be legally approved to o^er a program that prepares teachers to be licensed in public schools.

“In order for the equity issues, pedagogical training, and so forth to be of high quality, the state comes in and reviews all of our programs from top to bottom,” she said.

She said K-12 schools are FSU’s partners in the Teacher Education Program. During the two-year state review, partnership data was reviewed as well as the ways the partnership feedback is incorporated into the program.

Zoino-Jeanetti added that a few of the projects the Teacher Education Program partnered with the K-12 schools include professional development, partnerships with English language learners, projects with science education, and anti-racist pedagogy.

She said on individual bases the professors have partnered with the schools, but as a whole, the program has a shared steering committee called the Teacher Education Advisory Counsel, which the partners are also a part of.

She said, “I am standing on the shoulders of giants, in the sense of the long history of the teacher education program at Framingham State. I also benefited greatly from the expertise of my colleagues. I did not do this by myself.”

Zoino-Jeannetti added, “It’s a shared honor – it really is.”


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