The Alumni Association is honoring 21 NC State professors with the 2013 Faculty Awards for their outstanding work in the classroom, in the laboratory and in the field. We talked (via email) with some of the recipients about their work and the keys to being a successful professor.
Today we’re visiting with Suzie Goodell, an assistant professor of nutrition in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Goodell is one of seven professors being recognized as Alumni Association Outstanding Teachers.
What prompted you to become a professor? As a Masters student at Texas Tech University, I took a teaching assistant position to help pay the bills. For this job, I taught several lab sections of the Intro to Human Nutrition course. After my first semester of teaching, I was hooked. I loved teaching students about nutrition and how it applies to every day life. I loved interacting with people from all different walks of life. I loved knowing that what I did really mattered. I could see I was making a difference, helping students learn and succeed. After 2 1/2 more years of serving as the lab coordinator for the course, teaching my fellow TAs how to teach, I knew I had found my calling. I needed to teach.
What are the keys to being a successful teacher/professor? There are many things that a teacher needs to do to be successful. One of the most important things for me is to be relatable and make the material I’m teaching relatable to the students. I let students know that I’m not perfect; I make mistakes; and it is OK to question authority. By doing this, students recognize that I am human and they can approach me with their questions, concerns and struggles. Teaching only begins in the classroom. My goal is to convince students that coming to office hours, meeting over coffee, or sending me e-mails will help them learn more and eventually make them more successful in their future jobs.
What gives you the greatest satisfaction as a professor? I get the most satisfaction when a former student comes back to me and says, “You know, your class was really hard. At the time, I didn’t understand why you made us do all the stuff you did. Now, I see, you really cared about us. You prepared us to be successful outside of your classroom. Thank you for pushing me.”