It was the sunshine that brought
me here. I had been working in Scotland at the University of Edinburgh where
the weather was cold, windy and eternally misty. When I visited UNF to
interview for the job I now have, the Department of Psychology put me up in a
hotel on the beach. There were people in bathing suits enjoying the sunny
weather, and I’d just come from such dreariness that this seemed like paradise.
I knew I had to be here.
My first sight of campus just
solidified that. I was impressed with the campus’ natural environment and
nature trails. It was a lush, beautiful place with tremendous amounts of green
space. I’m on my fourth year here at UNF, and I’m still blown away by the
beauty of our University.
But I haven’t even mentioned
the best part yet — the students. I’ve been able to supervise many UNF students
in the classroom and on research projects and have enjoyed every part of the
process. Before coming to UNF, I had never encountered undergraduates who were
so engaged in the research process and willing to assist in my own research
focus — working memory. They wanted the kind
of hands-on research experiences that undergraduates at other institutions
might not be able to access, and they commit themselves to the work, even if
they’re juggling outside-the-class research with schoolwork and other jobs.
Undergraduates at UNF have so
much opportunity compared to other schools. The University isn’t content to
just offer great in-class instruction. Professors here acknowledge that a big
part of learning is engaging with the material on a practical level. I want to facilitate that learning with every
one of my students, and it has led to much of my research being published with
undergraduates’ names attached to the work. They are part of the entire research
process from start to finish — data retrieval to analysis. Before applying to
graduate school, many of my students have professional examples of their work
featured in peer-reviewed journals.
This is what UNF is about to
me. The group work, in-class discussions and smaller class sizes allows me to
offer a specialized experience to my students. It’s an environment designed for
student success, and it makes me happy to come to work. Even the beautiful
surroundings of campus are conducive to achieving academic success. Being in
close connection with the outdoors has been shown to boost cognitive ability
and lower stress. I couldn’t have been more right four years ago when I told
myself that UNF was the place for me.