Central University of New Town Staff Spotlight Archive
Every time one of our featured staff members is replaced on the Staff Spotlight page, we move their record here for posterity. The newest are always moved to the top, as the older ones are moved down the page.
Former Featured CUNT Staff Members
| Carrie Parker – Linguistics Professor
In her early years she grew as an Army brat, moving from one base to another with her parents, including several overseas. By the time she reached college she could already speak seven languages fluently and bits and pieces of several others. Linguistics was a perfect decision for her college degree and she excelled at it. By the time she graduated, in the top of her class even, numerous companies and government agencies were beating down her door to hire her.
For the last twelve years, Carrie Parker has been one of the top in her field of Linguistics and Translation Services. She had worked for the United Nations, US Government (in no less than our foreign embassies), the French Consulate in Washington DC, and spent two years in the Peace Corp. Two years ago she decided to leave the active life behind and come to us as our newest Linguistics Professor, now promoted to second in the department. Since joining our team she has proven time and time again to be a great asset to our staff and her expertise has been a great asset to our students. We have received nothing but glowing reports about her from our student body and her peers constantly express their pleasure with having her on the team.
When not teaching Carrie can often be found around campus, usually helping in one of the counseling offices or sitting in one of the coffee shops working on lesson plans. Since coming to CUNT, she has become a real lover and supporter of the school. If you happen to see her, don't be afraid to step up and say "Hi". She always welcomes meeting another new student and making new friends.
| Sheldon Harper – Mathematics Professor
When I first came to Central U I was not sure about the whole thing. Being away from home was frightening and the university seemed so huge and overwhelming. I didn't know what I was going to do. I was frightened into staying in my dorms most of the time and only coming out when I needed to go to class. I probably would have dropped out before the end of my first year if things didn't change.
That was when Professor Harper came into the picture. He seemed to notice my state and asked me to stay after class to talk for a moment. He told me that he saw how good I was at the material, but that I needed to loosen up and get out more or the college experience was going to destroy me. He took me under his wing and introduced me to a few clubs and other students with similar interests. Before too long I was fitting in and felt comfortable with everything here, and now I lead one of the first clubs he introduced me to.
If it weren't for amazing people like Professor Harper I wouldn't still be here. This is why I think he deserves to get a mention on the staff spotlight page.
| Fiona Peach – Women's Studies & Sociology Professor
Although most students seem to think about Mrs. Peach as being a very serious or even mean instructor, I happen to think she is a genius instructor who I have learned a lot from. The harshness people seem to get from her is that she believes that what she teaches is important and that she wants everyone in the class to understand it. She doesn't like goofing off or slacking during the designated instruction time. She is there to teach and that's what she does best.
Outside of class she is far more friendly and even willing to help in some school events. I have even run into her around time from time to time and found her to be extremely pleasant. I don't think she deserves the bad wrap he has gotten. Just because she loves her job and is serious about doing it doesn't make her a bad person. In fact it makes her great at it.
I was a C-grade student at best and regularly in trouble (for minor things, like disrupting behavior). I was involved with the cheer squad, but was close to getting kicked off the squad if I didn't get my grades up. Mrs. Peach kept me after class one day for punishment, but that was the best thing that ever happened to me. She talked to me a bit and found out about my trouble. After that day she made it a point to see that I paid attention in her classes and learned. It even helped me in other classes.
I am now a B student and rarely get in trouble any more. All it took was one great teacher to take notice and set me on the right path. I can never thank her enough.
| Karen Liman – Art History Professor
Before I started to take Professor Liman's courses I just thought drawing and painting were simple skills I was good at. Something I could work up and sell the goods of. I saw it simply as an ends of its own. I didn't think there had to be knowledge and study behind it to actually make it work. Then I came here and was forced to take an Art History course as part of the degree I wanted. I was rather annoyed with that, because I thought it was pointless.
Then I actually took her class in the Alameda Institute.
Professor Liman showed me that what I had was nothing more than a car without any map of how to get it somewhere. She showed me that understanding the masters and the history of the art form, I could learn how to not only improve my own skills, but my direction in the field as well. There is more to art than just putting pigment on canvas. I never understood that until she showed me the truth.
Out of every teacher I have ever had. None have been able to reach me and show me things the way she has. That's why I think Professor Liman should he honored here.
| Katyana Simonov – Russian Studies Professor
Born in Bardejov Czechoslovakia, Katyana Simonov came to the US to take college courses at Stanford University and never wanted to leave this country. After years of living here on an educational visa she was able to get a work visa until her citizenship came through. Her knowledge of eastern European culture and history, as well as several of the languages, made her very popular with several agencies and companies during the '80s, when connections with the former Soviet states were being formed.
After things in that area cooled down and Russian fell into disarray, the call for translators and knowledgeable business connections became less important. She also had no interest in returning to the old country, so she shifted her focus from business to instruction.
At first she got on at a couple smaller colleges, mostly community level, and taught for several years there, but it was six years ago, when she was discovered by an alumni of CUNT, that she found her way here. Since then she has been an important part of the foreign studies program and the only actual native to the eastern block in the department.
| Allan Dobias – Geology Professor
Some people are destined for certain positions and others are fall into them. Allan Dobias can claim either, or both.
Born to an immigrant couple, and with a father who was a coal miner, Allan spent most of his childhood around rocks and caves. They didn't have a lot of money, so he had to find his own toys and entertainment. The rocks he found were all he needed. He was obsessed with finding new kinds and as he grew this turned into an obsession with identifying what each kind he found was. Pretty soon, he moved on to not only wanting to know what it was, but how it formed. Rocks were his life.
By the time he graduated high school he had a full scientific scholarship to college, and would be the first in his family to go. He became one of the top geology students in his school and went on to do years of field study on historical geology and earthquake studies along the west coast of the US.
Seven years ago he came to New Town and applied for the just vacated position of geology professor. The school jumped at the chance and he has been teaching here ever since. He has also maintained a close connection to his family roots by helping out with the cultural exchange programs and with the exchange students. He likes to make sure that all foreign visitors feel welcome and understand enough to get along here at CUNT.
| Paula Jenkins – Chemistry Professor
Central University of New Town has a large and popular science department, covering numerous areas of study. One of the most popular areas is that of Chemistry, and all aspects that it brings forth (from biochemistry, to pharmaceuticals, to chemical engineering, and so on). As such CUNT has a very large chemistry department with several professors to cover all the areas and needs. Today's spotlight professor is one of them, Paula Jenkins.
After graduating top of her class, Paula Jenkins went on to work for a major national company for three years, but found the corporate lab experience (and numerous level of secrecy and paranoia she had to deal with) was not the place for her. So she went back to school for a year to get a teaching degree, but before she could start looking for a good high school or state collage to work at, CUNT snapped her up in an instant. She is exactly the kind of highly knowledgeable and experienced person they prefer to see teaching here.
In her off time, Paula likes to visit downtown and frequents the numerous restaurants, shows, and other forms of recreation we have here. When not teaching, counseling, or working on some school project she likes to spend most of her time out among the community she has grown to call home.
| Linda Walker – South American Studies Teacher
Unlike most of the professors at CUNT, Linda Walker didn't go to school for what she ended up teaching here. She actually planned on being an elementary school teacher when she finished, but first did a four-year stint in the Peace Corps in Peru. This started her love affair with South American culture and history. She stayed down there and took several field courses before returning to the states. She no longer wanted to be a simple elementary school teacher, but did still want to teach.
After coming to CUNT for a few classes on education and Latin studies she was asked to stay on as an assistant instructor for the department, but quickly moved up to being a full time Teacher. She is working her way up to full professor, but has several more years of study and work. In the meantime she does her part to make the department the best in the state.
| Herbert Klein – Head of Mathematics Department
Even in his early years, Herbert was a master at all things mathematical. He always scored tops in his classes and was accepted into MIT at the age of sixteen. His time there was very successful, and he was even accepted into one of their theoretical think tanks before he graduated. He continued on as a member of the think tank after graduation, which became his full time job for two years. He says that he always felt that something was missing, even though he fully enjoyed the work he got to do with them. He wanted to be able to make a connection that he wasn't getting with his peers.
It was at this time that he started looking into getting a teaching position, first at MIT and then elsewhere, since MIT wouldn't accept him on at his young age. It was nearly immediate that he started getting calls from numerous colleges and universities wanting his expertise on their staff. After looking into them he decided on our little college here. In his own words: "It was the most beautiful grounds and most friendly experience of the whole search process."
Since coming on board he has been an important part of the staff, starting out as a junior professor and now leading the mathematics department. He still loves his job and works very hard to make sure every student in his department gets every chance to make it they can.
| Olivia Mercer – American History Professor
After being at CUNT for two years I was well acquainted with the college, the codes, and the professors. What I wasn't, was happy. I was uncomfortable around a lot of people, nervous about dating, and felt unable to make many friends. Although I was at college, I felt like a shut in. That was until Professor Mercer started counseling me.
In addition to being my history professor, I found out she worked in the student counseling office. I always liked her as a teacher, so I went in to see if she could help me out. The sessions were exceptionally helpful to me and within a couple months I was going out, meeting people, making friends, and by the end of the year I even had a boyfriend. She helped me more than I could have ever of hoped for.
The counseling center keeps her on call for special needs cases, at her requesting. She even lives on campus with her husband, Mark (who teaches music), so she can be closer to the students that may need her. I can't imagine a more dedicated and amazing member of the staff. She deserves some kind of award.
| Christine Leigh – Music Teacher
Although she wasn't an instructor during my time at Central U, I had the pleasure of coming to the campus and speaking to her classes a number of times in the last few years, and I found her to be an amazingly bright and entertaining teacher. I must admit I was pleasantly shocked the first time I walked into her class to make my usual presentation about music's place in the real world and the opportunities out there for graduates. I sat in the back and watched her teach until it was time to go on.
Unlike many music teachers I've seen, who tend to get a little stodgy and pompous, Christine Leigh fills her classroom with humor, light, and entertainment, while dolling out the knowledge and skills. She has a way of making the student feel comfortable with nearly any difficulty of subject matter and getting them to take it seriously.
There should be more teachers like Christine Leigh in the world, it would be a better place.
| Polina Sidorov – Human Biology Professor
Polina Sidorov was born and raised in Russia, but came to America to get her higher education. She then permanently moved to the US in her late 20s to start her teaching career here at Central University. At first she struggled to find her place here, but soon enough was one of the more respected professors in the science division. She is now the lead Biology instructor, mostly taking the Human Biology classes as her own and assigning the rest to the others.
When I started my medical studies here I knew I would have to take a number of starter classes before getting to the things I really wanted to know. One of the class sets I had to sit through were the Human Biology series taught by Polina Sidorov. I went in not expecting much and planned on just sitting through them to get the grades needed, but they ended up being some of the best experiences I have ever had here.
She has an almost magical way of speaking, where her accent makes the English words seem to hold more power, which keeps you listening intently while the understanding sinks in. She is also a master of not only speech, but fantastic demonstrations and experiments that seem to put you right in the middle of the subject she is teaching. I can't imagine how I could have learned more than I did in her classes without actually living inside her head.
If any teacher here at CUNT deserves the honor of having a staff spotlight about them, Polina Sidorov does. She is the one who made me see there was more to biology than just the meat and bone I was going to working on as a doctor. There was a life inside it that I had to protect.
| Larissa De Cotis – Modern History Professor
Larissa De Cotis has always loved history and current events, watching the world news on a daily basis since she was in her early teens. It was no surprise that she followed the interest into her college years, focusing on modern history and social studies related programs. After graduation she spent several years working for the state department, mostly writing reports and making suggestions about the correct courses of action to take in numerous international situations. Eventually she turned her back on the job when she saw that not only were none of her suggestions ever followed, but the old boy's network was permanently stuck in the same rut it had beeen in since before she was born.
Knowing that her limited area of expertise was going to be of little use on the open job market she started to look at a career in teaching. At first she tried her hand at high school, but found it nearly impossible to deal with not only the out of control students most public schools contained, but also the backwards way the school board system ran things. So she started to look around at private school and university positions. That's when she stumbled across Central University and applied for an open position.
As one of the newest members of the History and Geography Department, she has only been teaching at Central University for three years, but is already highly regarded by her peers. They have nothing but good things to say about her and all of them foresee her one day being the head of the department if she keep up the good work after she achieves tenure. Even the current head of the department says he's pretty sure she would be right up there for consideration when he finally steps down (although he's not planning to do so any time soon).
The main reason she has been so highly regarded as of late is due to her work with the most difficult of classes. Rooms full of troublemakers and entitled youths are usually impossible to get through to, but she managed to get them not only to study, but actually have competitive scores on their academic tests. She is modest about the achievement, simply saying her Incentive Program was a lucky success, but the results speak for themselves.
Last modified on 2015/3/12 by Admin