Every other week, the My First Year blog will be sharing stories of faculty so that our freshman students can get to know their professors a bit better and hear some of their advice for new students.
Sarah Uzelac, Professor of Psychology, Division Chair
Years at the Mount: 13
What was your college experience like? Fantastic – I loved college so much I never want to leave!
What are your hobbies/what do you like to do outside of work? I’m a big reader, so if I’m not grading exams or papers, I’m usually reading for pleasure. I also like gardening and cooking. We travel as a family a lot. And I’m a horseback rider – I keep my horse at a barn in Wappingers Falls and try to ride a few times a week.
What is one thing most students don’t know about you? I married my high school sweetheart!
What does a successful student look like in your class? A successful student in my classes is one who comes prepared, shows their interest, and asks questions during our class meetings.
How do you break the ice with or begin building a relationship with your professor during the first few weeks of class? We spend a big part of our first class meeting introducing ourselves to each other and I try to use humor and personal anecdotes to help students feel comfortable in my classes.
What are your preferred forms of communication? Email is always quick (as long as the syllabus is consulted first!), but I love it when students drop by Whittaker Hall to say hello and laugh about how small my office is during my office hours.
What are your biggest college student pet peeves? Cellphone use during class time and cheating. I don’t tolerate either.
What advice would you give to students who are scared to face a professor after a mistake? Always talk to your professors – we’re just people! And there are very few mistakes that you can’t recover from over the course of a 15 week semester. In fact, I would say 9 times out of 10 a small problem is only made a big problem by avoiding talking with your professor about it.
How will building relationships with your professors help you be successful in your classes and in the future? Getting to know your professors definitely helps students understand and meet their expectations for a class, but beyond that it helps us get to know you better and be able to write you much more personal letters of recommendation for jobs or graduate study down the road.
What was an experience you had in college that positively impacted you? I usually tell my students about this one on the very first day of class – I entered college afraid of (and mostly having avoided) the hard sciences. My freshman year I was assigned Dr. Darlene Southworth as my BIO 1010 teacher and my life was changed. Dr. Southworth made the class so interesting and fun that I literally forgot to be intimidated. This experience had such an impact on me that I actually ended up adding a Biology minor to my degree plan the next semester.