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Jadwiga (Hettie) Domino, Ph.D., assistant professor, tells her students that they can predict their future. "If they tell themselves that they cannot do the material and that they will fail, then that is exactly what will happen," she explained. "On the other hand, if they tell themselves that they can do it, that they will not give up, that they will pass, then that is what will happen."
She credits her parents as a source of inspiration as she worked towards her personal and professional goals. "My parents were born in Poland before WWII and had very little formal schooling … college would not even have been a consideration for them." She continued, "Yet they encouraged my brother, sister and me to study hard and go to college. By working very hard themselves, they showed us that through hard work and by never giving up on one’s dreams, one can achieve one’s goals."
Dr. Domino defines her own success as a teacher through the stories of her students. "When I see a struggling student pass math or when I hear that a former student went on to achieve his or her dreams, I feel that in a way I was a small part of that success due to the encouragement that I gave." In her years of teaching, Dr. Domino has witnessed students pass a course after failing several times. "To them, that was a sign of success. It gave them the confidence that they can achieve anything and that a failure once does not mean a failure all the time." She continued, "The determination to succeed and to overcome an obstacle that was with them for many years was already a sign of success."
A faculty member within the Department of Mathematics and Sciences, Dr. Domino notes that many students fear math. "For them, success means eliminating that fear and realizing that math is not all that bad." She gives the example of a student who had feared math since high school due to several bad experiences with math teachers. "She passed with a B+ and then went on to become an elementary school teacher," said Dr. Domino. "Today, she claims that her favorite subject to teach is math and that she incorporates it into the other subjects that she teaches. Not only did she succeed at Medaille College, but she continues to succeed in her job."
For Felecia Hanesworth, sharing stories of her own experience with students provides support as they work toward their own success. As a visiting instructor in the School of Education, Hanesworth takes the opportunity to "help [students] think about the world of education beyond their personal experiences so that they can see themselves and others as successful learners and seekers of knowledge."
She points to the ripple effects students in the School of Education cause, as they go on to graduate school and pursue careers as classroom teachers. "I am very proud of them - they have all chosen a field of study that influences the lives of children beyond measure," she said. "They are the teachers of the future and I am proud to have been a part of the process." Hanesworth continued, "In the field of education, we teach [students] to be reflective practitioners so that they in turn can teach it to others. We are an institution of opportunity and success defined by what we do with students to help them achieve their goals. Their success is our success!"
This content originally appeared in the summer 2011 issue of the Medaille Magazine.
The instructors were knowledgeable and welcomed class discussions, with
respect for each student's contribution. I've learned how to be a more
effective leader. My capstone class gave insight on how to combine all
the education learned to operate a business. That's when I realized how
much I had sharpened my knowledge.