Professors reflect on past experiences

Victoria Grattan, Editor-In-Chief

Before their time at Pitt-Johnstown, some professors acquired unique hobbies and interests while in college.

Kristen Majocha, professor and communication department co-chair woman,   said during her time at Slippery Rock University, she was an officer with a campus radio station and was a Tri Sigma sorority president.

Majocha said once she began majoring in communication and becoming involved in the Slippery Rock University radio station, WSRU, she was hooked.

“I loved it and never looked back,” she said.

Majocha said she has traveled abroad numerous times, most recently to Ecuador and Puerto Rico. She has also lived in Morocco and Brazil.

While living in Brazil, Majocha said she lived beside slums.

“I have never forgotten the one-roomed dirt-floor shacks, the dirty children who begged for our toys and the hungry mothers of infants that picked empty ketchup bottles out of our garbage,” she said.

“I gained a profound sense of empathy for the human condition there.”

Majocha advises students to study abroad.

“The perspective gained will push them outside of their comfort zone and help them develop into global citizens who can offer critical solutions to complex problems,” Majocha said.

Once students have jobs, families and mortgages, Majocha said, going abroad will become almost impossible.

“Plus, the programs can help them fulfill graduation requirements and can be paid for mostly by school loans if they plan well,” she said.

Psychology professor John Mullennix said he changed his major three times while an undergraduate student.

He said he began in engineering because he thought he needed a practical major, but hated it. Then he changed to creative writing but didn’t see a future in it, which caused him to change to philosophy, but he saw no job prospects in that field.

Finally, Mullennix changed his major to psychology.

In college, Mullennix said he did not participate in any extracurricular activities.

“I always felt like the punk rock outsider who didn’t belong with the mainstream students in the school,” he said.

Mullennix said between working full-time and trying to go to school, there was no time to participate in any extracurricular activities.

Mullennix said he worked as a janitor, busboy and server while in college, as well as a convenience store clerk, disc jockey and a bartender.

Mullennix said there is nothing like dealing with alcoholics on a daily basis to give you motivation to go on to graduate school.

“You meet all kinds of people via those jobs and for someone who wanted to be a psychologist, that was very useful,” he said.

Mullennix said despite having no involvement in extracurricular activities, he had no problem getting into graduate school.

“I think I probably missed out on some life experiences as a result, but I had other life experiences outside school during that time that made up for it.”

During that time, Mullinnex said he was involved in the early vintage punk rock scene in Pittsburgh.

“(Group members) were considered outsiders, (which) gives you an interesting perspective on people and on life,” he said.

Mullinnex advises students not to be disengaged while in college like he said he was, but he also said students should be selective and not become involved in too many activities.

“Above all, do not sacrifice your grades for extracurricular (activities).”

Most students these days work, Mullennix said, and managing time for work, studies and extracurricular activities can be difficult.

Mullinnex said he thinks that, because of time management problems, students look for the path of least resistance.

He said that is understandable, but he advises students to step out of their comfort zone once in a while.

“If you’re an engineer, take that philosophy or English literature class, or if you’re a humanities major, take a theoretical math class,” Mullennix said.

He said students should study abroad because college is the time to expand their horizons.

“It’s your chance to explore the world; don’t squander it.”

Marketing and entrepreneurship professor Skip Glenn said he was in an outdoor club and a fraternity while in college, both of which expanded his network of talent and resources later in life.

“Doing something beyond your career path tells employers that you recognize the value of community, Glenn said.

It also allows you to practice your leadership skills and teamwork.”

Glenn said that he has also worked at the Academy of Natural Sciences, a museum in Philadelphia.

“I have been a nature nerd all my life, and my love of ferns and insects actually led me to working (there), where I was funded to collect new species of birds and grasshoppers,” he said.

During his time at the museum, Glenn said he traveled to Costa Rica, Peru and Ecuador in South America, and Kenya, Malawi and the Republic of South Africa in Africa, and was able to name seven new katydid species and one new grasshopper species.

Glenn said that students should follow their passions and interests in extracurricular activities.

“These are usually the starting points for conversations for interviews and new contacts and friends in life,” he said.

“They provide refreshment for you and generate amazing stories about your achievements and glorious failures as well.”