Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Inspirational Instructor: Professor Alicia Pica: Psychology

Written by: Kim Kovacich

"Teaching is the one profession that creates all other professions." Author Unknown

As a student, I have been given the opportunity to sit under numerous teachers and become versed in a variety of subjects. Most, if not all, of the instructors were a joy to have, but if asked who inspired me uttermost, I would have to reply, "my psychology professor, Alicia Pica." She not only instructed, but further ignited a passion within me, solidifying my assurance in the fact that I have chosen the appropriate career field. As William Butler Yeats states, "Education is not the filling of the pail, but the lighting of a fire." The ardor was within me; her class re-kindled it.

Teaching is a noble profession. Instructors have been given a great gift; the power to change lives. Anyone can recite or relay information, but it takes a special individual with true passion to inspire others to take that knowledge and change themselves, and in turn, inspire others. William A. Ward summarizes this well. He states, "The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires."

To inspire, an individual needs to possess the capability to stimulate a person's mind or emotions to a higher level of feeling, or activity, and direct that person towards the path meant for them. Professor Pica did just that for me and countless others in our class. She is someone who helps her students realize their full potential and go on to make a positive difference in the lives of others. As Henry Brooks Adams says, "Teachers affect eternity; no one can tell where their influence stops." Trident instructors can change the way students feel about themselves, crucially molding the rest of their lives.

Professor Pica has forged her own authentic path in life and taken the unpaved road, going against the grain. When discussing creativity, most individuals will reply that they, "think outside the box," but as she states, "I have no box." She is creating a direction by living what she studies, researches, and transfers to us, the student. She doesn't just talk about what fascinates her, she is immersed in it. With her enthusiasm, passion, and genuine excitement about the subject of psychology and life itself, one cannot help but leave her class inspired to learn more, be more, do more.

Probably one of the greatest qualities an inspirational teacher can have is empathy:  an intellectual identification with or a vicarious experience of another's feelings, thoughts, or attitudes. She laughed with us and did a great job at making a connection between student and teacher. She has compassion, leading by example as a student herself, that we are all juggling many aspects of life. Some of us tend to stress out after a test or quiz; Professor Pica stays after class to grade them and ease our minds. She maintains a contagious, positive attitude and rarely comes to class without a smile. She is a great orator, which keeps us focused and interested, and always maintains a tone of respect. She treats us as if we are her friends, not merely a group of people sitting under her tutelage. Ironically enough, she is the epitome of one of her favorite teachers that she holds in high regard. She stated that her undergraduate professor was, "extremely knowledgeable, experienced in her field, supportive, and always willing to go out of her way to help others." This is proof all the more the impact that a teacher can have on their students. An unknown author states, "As a general rule, teachers teach more by what they are than by what they say," and I feel that, as students, we become a reflection of them.

Professor Alicia Pica possesses the art of giving good feedback that is constructive, welcoming questions and personal insight from her students. As with any subject, studying can be tedious and arduous, and can even sap the motivation right out of the students, but inspirational teachers intervene at the right point and know instinctively how to change the emphasis and direction of learning, bringing students back on track by motivating them to succeed. If ever her students were confused about any aspect of the subject matter, we all felt comfortable in contacting her and she always replied back to us in a timely matter. We were never made to feel that we were on our own in understanding the material; she has the ability to explain each lesson in a manner that each individual student can understand. Professor Pica states that, "Teaching any kind of subject is like teaching another language and other people have different educational backgrounds, or otherwise, languages. Therefore," she believes, "you have to know their language to teach another one, like teaching Psychology to someone with a background in engineering." She uses innovative, interactive teaching methods and creates lessons which are interesting and applicable to each student's life. 

Her class can be likened to that of a good movie which continues to play out lesson by lesson. There is a plot, instances that keep you on your toes, and laughter to break up any monotony of serious issues. I looked forward to her every class and was never forlorn about any test or assignment. It takes a special teacher to maintain a class that continues to be insightful, informative, and exciting. Professor Alicia Pica is a shining example of an educator who can do just that. We learned a great deal, laughed during every class, and completed the term with a sense of accomplishment and gratitude, but, as with any good movie, there is always disappointment when it ends, as well as, the hope for a sequel.  


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