First Year Professors’ First Impressions

By Taylor Dressel

We reached out to some of Youngstown State University’s newest professors to ask them about the university. These responses have been edited for clarity and length.

Eric MacDonald — Electrical and Computer Engineering

Why did you decide to take the job?

The opportunity to forge a new manufacturing program in engineering and make a positive impact on the local and national economies, a deep appreciation for the rich manufacturing heritage of the city and longstanding and productive collaborations with several professors at YSU.

What is one of your favorite things about YSU?

Not one but several: creative students, research infrastructure including million-dollar 3-D printers, fall color (nothing like this in Texas) and Polish and Italian food. Pierogies are amazing.

What was the biggest difference between your last teaching job and teaching at YSU?

I am coming from the border of Mexico in West Texas — the landscape was dry and thorny, and the summers were brutal. I am unbearably excited about the prospects for snow in the coming months. The culture on the border was warm, inviting and appreciative of hard work — and I see a lot of similarities in the culture here.

Kristin Bruns — Counseling, Special Education and School Psychology

Why did you decide to take this job at YSU?

I wanted to be part of a talented and productive faculty, which led me to apply to the open position. The second reason is that I truly felt a connection to the faculty, students and department as a whole when I interviewed for the position.

What is one of your favorite things about YSU?

I have been inspired by the work ethic and drive demonstrated by the students in our program. Many of them are gaining valuable experience in their graduate assistantships and other positions, which creates a wealth of knowledge that we are able to draw upon in the classroom.

What was the biggest difference between your last teaching job and teaching at YSU?

I’ve appreciated the commitment to diversity and multicultural awareness within our program, as well as the diversity of the students in the classroom (in a multitude of ways). The students’ openness to sharing their varied experiences has enriched the classroom experience for me (and their peers).

Amy Elizabeth Williams — Counseling, Special Education and School Psychology

Why did you decide to take this job at YSU?

Having the opportunity to become a faculty member alongside people who I look up to within the profession has been an amazing opportunity. The opportunities I’ve been given to teach and innovate the addiction counseling courses (my specialty area) are an added bonus that I’d hoped for, but never thought I would have so early in my career.

What is one of your favorite things about YSU?

The students I work with are amazing! They are committed to their academic work and demonstrate high motivation to succeed. These students work incredibly hard both in school and outside of it. I have tremendous respect for them, and I know they will be assets to the profession.

What was the biggest difference between your last teaching job and teaching at YSU?

My job at YSU is my first full-time faculty position. The two roles are quite different, both in terms of my responsibilities and roles and in terms of my internal processing of the experience.  While the transition is ongoing, I will say that being a full-time faculty member here at YSU brings both increased responsibility and greater rewards than I experienced in my previous teaching roles.

Shelley Blundell — Communication

Why did you choose to teach at YSU?

The position with YSU sounded like a great opportunity for me to return to my first professional passion — journalism — and to incorporate what I had learned since my journalism days about teaching and information seeking in a new, challenging and changing environment.

What is one of your favorite things about YSU?

Every single person I have talked to, worked with, approached for information or asked for assistance since I began my “YSU journey” has been welcoming, kind and helpful as I orient myself in this new environment. This can-do energy seems to flow through the student body too, and I find this energy very inspiring.

What was the biggest difference between your last teaching job and teaching at YSU?

My last ‘teaching’ job was in my previous librarian position, where most of my teaching was through individual class sessions on library and academic research resources with a variety of students and majors. Now, I have semester-long classes with the same students. This means I can learn more about students’ needs, challenges and strengths, and work with them to overcome their challenges and implement their strengths inside and outside the classroom.

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