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An extraordinary, inspiring, caring professor

12.16.2013

Professors, without a doubt, are some of the most influential people that young adults interact with on a daily basis. They are mentors, friends and authority figures all at the same time. The perfect balance of these traits is key to student success and cooperation in a classroom. For example, a student could go into a psychology class thinking it would be terribly boring, but once Professor Kelly Curtis started speaking, that very same student would be amazed.

Kelly Curtis, PhD sits in front of me prepared to answer my long list of questions about why she is so great. Her blue eyes twinkle as she waits for other students to leave the classroom…

Kara Benkovich: What inspired you to be a professor?

Professor Kelly Curtis: Really my love of learning. I love to learn and figure out unique ways to help others learn. I didn’t learn I wanted to be a professor until graduate school when I taught my first Intro class…the rest was history

She smiles as though she’s about to giggle…I wish you all could hear her laugh, it’s the best.

KB: Did you ever have a different career path in mind?

KC: I wanted to be a neurosurgeon, but frankly I did not feel like I was smart enough to be a neurosurgeon.

First of all…I do not think this is true. From our discussions in the classroom and her area of study, she is very intelligent. The only reason I agree with this statement is because she is not exactly the steadiest person! She once told us a story about how she dislocated her knee by walking into a chair. Not sure how trusting I would be with her holding a scalpel – she even admitted that herself!

KB: What is the best part of your career?

KC: Interacting with students on a daily basis since I can see a different vantage point and fresh perspective.

KB: What do you hope to achieve through teaching college students?

KC: A lot of things. If you can walk away from my class knowing one thing you wouldn’t have known coming into this class….thinking critically about information you weren’t able to do before, I think I have been somewhat successful.

KB: How did you hear of HPU, and why did you accept the position the department offered to you?

KC: I hadn’t really heard anything “out of the ordinary” besides what was described in the job looking processes. I really liked the area and was planning on moving to one of the Carolinas (much to the dismay of my family) and when I went on the website I was blown away at what people first say: obviously how beautiful it was. It was not until I attended my interview that I knew right away that I would do anything to get this job – so much to the point that Dr. Lee Barbara and I joke that when she dropped me off at the airport, I almost gave her a hug (which is totally unprofessional). There was such a bond that I felt with her….interacting with the students too.

Dr. Curtis is originally from Chicago. She went to school in New Orleans and actually just bought a house before Hurricane Katrina hit. We are so lucky to have her here in High Point. Her statement about our school being more than just a beautiful campus is too true – I think once you actually visit campus and get a decent amount of interaction with the people here, you realize that it is more than fancy buildings. The people here are friendly, willing to help and excited to be in such a caring environment. 

KB: As a relatively new teacher, what is most inspiring here?

KC: The students truly, sincerely care. I know that is kind of nondescript, but whether it be about their classes or some philanthropic endeavor, or helping a classmate out…I have never experienced it to the level that I see it here.

KB: Are you involved in research on campus?

KC: Right now I have three undergrad research assistants. One, a senior, is working on a project with me and we are planning on presenting a poster at APA. I also have two sophomores. I am constantly interested and willing to work with students about research endeavors – I have access to a data set with patients who have sustained injuries. Even if something is not in my area of research, I am willing to explore options.

KB: What is your advice for those majoring or thinking of majoring in psych?

KC: I would say to determine early on not necessarily what you want to do as a career, but the general area that you want to go into so that we can cater your psychology experience to your specific needs.

KB: Do you have a favorite part about our university?

KC: What isn’t favorite part?! I love interacting with students. I love my colleagues. If I could come up with ideal group of people to work with…it would be them. While it sounds cliché, we all get along really well.

KB: What sets us apart as a university?

KC: Because it is a smaller university, the level of interaction between instructors and professors and students far exceeds any other experiences I’ve had, which I really think makes for an optimal learning environment for any student that choses to come here.

After reading a little bit about Professor Curtis, you might get a better understanding of her personality…but I feel as though she is one of those people who you definitely need to meet in person. She is one of, if not my absolute, favorite professors on campus. It is evident that she loves what she does and holds a true passion for her subject and interacting with us. Her laughter can brighten anyone’s day. For me, time passes so quickly during our meeting times because it is so interesting and funny – it doesn’t feel like a class, it feels like fun. She uses a variety of teaching styles to make sure she accommodates everyone’s learning needs.

Dr. Curtis is a great benefit to the psychology department. I know she sparked my interest and some other friends of mine as well – I might even consider minoring in the subject. We are very lucky to have her here at HPU. I believe certain people come into our lives for a reason and the choices that we make, whether they are blind or conscious, helps us develop as people. Through her, I have taken away that college classes ARE fun and it’s worthwhile to show up to class. It is okay for professors to be quirky and funny – we can learn a lot from them, especially if we are comfortable around them and have a more developed relationship outside the “teaching” realm. I truly am looking forward to getting to know Dr. Curtis more throughout the semester and hope to have her for more than this class. I would encourage everyone to get to know their professors, no matter what school you end up applying to. It is my hope that someday everyone gets a chance to meet Dr. Curtis – she is just one professor who has had an exceptional impact on my learning experience. 

 

Until next time,
Kara

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