Ithaca College Will Make You Ready
With a vibrant community, professors who inspire, and the hands-on experience you need to dive into your field with confidence.
Good educators stick with their students until the concepts they’re teaching gel. Considering his research area, Andy Smith, a biology professor at Ithaca College, might have a slight advantage.
Andy and his student researchers—all of them undergraduates at IC—study the unique properties of the gel that snails use to stick themselves to surfaces, even slippery rocks battered by ocean waves. It might not sound like the most exciting topic, but Andy points out the incredible potential.
“Gel like this would make an ideal medical adhesive because it would stick to wet surfaces, and no matter how much the tissue flexed and bent, the gel would flex and bend with it,” he says.
Andy’s student researchers are there because the work is as exciting to them as it is to their professor. Sure, Ithaca requires science students to immerse themselves in lab research for one semester, but placement is based on student preference. Many continue beyond that one semester and eventually earn the autonomy to run their own projects and experiments, assist in data analysis, and author papers submitted for publication.
“I really like working with students in the lab because every day is different, and you never know what you’re going to find,” Andy says. “It’s a terrific process of seeing students grow in independence, maturity, and intellectual sophistication.”
That sort of hands-on learning is central to the Ithaca College experience.
“You can learn so much more in a research lab than in a classroom because research is a big, complex project,” Andy says. “You don’t know the answers, but you become responsible for finding them.”
>> More on this story: Andy Smith's faculty profile
It’s an awards-season cliché, but it really is an honor just to be nominated. Becky Hall knows: she was among the 217 quarterfinalists for the inaugural Grammy Award for music education—selected from more than 30,000 nominees.
Becky, who earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Ithaca College School of Music, couldn’t escape the honor. After stifling an attempt by students to nominate her (“I said, ‘No, no. Please don’t do that. There are so many more deserving teachers!’”), she later found out that a colleague had submitted her name. A few months later, she received an email notifying her that she was in the quarterfinals.
“I was speechless. You could’ve knocked me over with a feather.” And though she wasn’t among the 25 who made it to the semifinals, the commitment and passion that earned her the nomination—as well as a 2010–11 Teacher of the Year Award from her district—is what matters most. She learned these qualities growing up and honed them at Ithaca College.
“[IC] taught me discipline. It taught me to be organized in my way of living, in my presentation of thoughts. The professors truly are the example of lifelong learners: always going to conferences, always reading up on the latest techniques, strategies, philosophies. As a teacher, I try to do that as well.”
When she decided to earn her master’s degree while teaching full-time at the school she attended as a child, Becky enrolled in IC’s graduate summer music program. The program gives current music teachers the opportunity to earn their master’s degree in three summers.
“I wanted to get better educated in my field—to understand the philosophies, theories, and practice of music. Ithaca was the best place to do that.”
Her dedication to teaching didn’t earn a Grammy, but her reward is being able to inspire students to strive for their best. “I didn’t grow up with much, and I didn’t have confidence. But luckily I found music, I stayed dedicated to it, and I went to one of the best schools for music. Now I’m living the dream. I get to teach music. I perform on the weekends and at night, wherever and whenever I can. I tell them, ‘If I can do it, then you can, too.’”
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