Thanking Our Teachers

The impact of a great teacher on a student is immeasurable; just ask the students below. Through their dedication to their field, their students and their community, teachers – professors, advisers, mentors, teaching assistants – can leave an impression that lasts long after the semester ends. We’d like to give a shoutout to those in VCU’s College of Humanities and Sciences who continue to guide and inspire our students. Break out the tissues!

Kate Philpott, Department of Forensic Science

“Ms. Kate Philpott was my favorite professor in my major, and she is one of my mentors to this day. She was one of the first professors I felt real connection with. I took her course FRSC 375 during the fall semester of my junior year, and I remember the first day of class she started off by telling us about her journey. I was going through a rough patch at the time in trying to figure out what I wanted to do once I graduated because I could not see myself working in a lab setting and I was feeling really discouraged at that point. Ms. Philpott said that she had gotten her undergrad in forensics or biology, I honestly cannot remember. She continued on to say she had done lab work for a while, but then she went to law school. It was something about her story that made a gear click into place in my mind. Why hadn't I considered law school? I spoke with her after class and soon after I was crushing my case briefings, participating by asking questions in class and the material was so fulfilling. I would call my mom after every class to tell her all about what I had learned about the 4th amendment and how she needed to know her rights just in case anything were to ever happen. I felt like a whole new world had opened up for me. Ms. Philpott is so helpful and has given me great advice in terms of internships, law school tips or even just words of encouragement. I cannot thank her enough for the impact she has had on my academic journey.”

Yathzelly Ortega

Tricia Smith, Ph.D., Department of Biology

“Dr. Tricia Smith has been the single greatest role model for me throughout my time at VCU. I have been a TA for her twice and taken three classes with her as an undergrad, and she never fails to make the course material engaging. Professors have a huge impact on what a student can gain from the course, and it is so important to have professors like Dr. Smith, who are not only passionate about the course material, but invested in every single one of their students. She is an absolute rockstar and I do not think I would be pursuing clinical research if it were not for [the courses] Biology of Drugs and Capstone with her as an undergrad.”

Amu Manoj

Miles Tucker, Ph.D., Department of Philosophy

“Dr. Tucker is the only one I have had extensive experience with and he is a natural educator. He cares so much for his students as well as the course material. He takes extra time to explain concepts such that everyone can understand in a fun and effective manner. His passion motivated me to excel in the class.”

Rachel Zahradka

John Aughenbaugh, Ph.D., Department of Political Science

“My favorite professor in my major has to be Professor Aughenbaugh, aka Professor Augie. I have had so many great professors thus far but none have impressed me more than Professor Augie. I took POLI 313 US Constitutional Law: Civil Rights and Liberties with him the spring 2022 semester. By the end of the course, I knew I had to take another class with him and so I signed up for his POLI 315 Courts and Politics class for fall 2022. What makes Professor Augie my favorite is his style of teaching. He tries to do more than lecture his students, he makes you critically think under pressure, he challenges you to do more than just read the material, and most importantly, encourages you to ask questions. As a student who wants to attend law school after undergrad, taking his class made me realize what it takes to be a law student and I encourage any student who's thinking about attending law school to at least take one of Professor Augie's classes. Professor Augie has a great sense of humor and laid back demeanor with a tough personality and high expectations. He is truly the kind of professor that wants you to come to class everyday ready prove yourself, your ability to learn and succeed. Though his classes are hard, he is willing to help you, work with you and answer your questions. He is one of the best professors/teachers I have had in my academic career.”

Arrington Evans

thank you doctor judyth twigg from the department of political science

Judyth Twigg, Ph.D., Department of Political Science

“My favorite professor was Professor Twigg because she allowed us to earn our points for the class by choosing our assignments. There was something for everybody, and not only did it help me learn, but it encouraged me to seek out other ways to learn the information. There were options like book reports, research papers, podcasts and so many more. She set me up for success during—and even after—I finished her course. She continued to send me opportunities and recognized my interest in the subject.”

Isa Meritt

Jess Collins, Mass Communications: Advertising

“Jess Collins is my favorite professor because she goes above and beyond to support her students in their individual journeys. She regularly sends specific individual feedback on assignments via voice recordings, is available for internship and other extracurricular industry-related advice, and is super entertaining and honest about her industry experiences in class.”

Mariah Kumpe

thank you to doctor fernando tenjo from the biology department

Fernando Tenjo, Ph.D., Department of Biology

“My favorite biology professor is Dr. Tenjo-Fernandez. He is so intelligent, kind and encouraging. It is evident that he is extremely passionate about biology and his excitement is contagious. Dr. Tenjo's main priority is that his students truly learn the information he is teaching. He is flexible and willing to slow down if his students need more time to grasp important concepts, instead of rushing through the curriculum to stay in line with the syllabus.”

Cassidy Guyton

Jesse Goldstein, Ph.D., Department of Sociology

“My favorite professor was and is Professor Jesse Goldstein. Professor Goldstein is actually the instructor for Another World Is Possible as well as a climate crisis course I took last semester. He helped us to think outside the box and be creative, which was sometimes challenging, but so worth it. I never felt like I was just taking a class with him, but actually having experiences beyond the four walls of the school.”

Pheala Johnson

Catherine Connon, Ph.D., Department of Forensic Science

“My favorite professor is Dr. Catherine Connon. She was my professor for Survey of Forensic Science and really helped me understand what a career in forensics would look like. Dr. Connon always went the extra mile when it came to office hours and answering questions outside of the topic we were focusing on for the week. With Dr. Connon's help, I was able to pick my concentration in forensic science.”

Jaelyn Jenifer

thank you to doctor daeha joung from the physics department

Daeha Joung, Ph.D., Department of Physics

“Dr. Joung has been a mentor, teacher and friend since I took his Quantum Mechanics class. His class was well taught, challenged you, and was focused on getting across the key concepts without getting too caught up in endless calculations. We talked one afternoon a few minutes before class about my coming first child. He told me about his children and that I should not be too worried; it would all be alright. That conversation helped catalyze me to get through what was turning into a tough semester. Turns out it was one of my best.”

Charles Pemberton

Cheri Doucette, Ph.D., Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics

“Dr. Doucette was my MATH201 Calculus 2 professor and she was the reason I became a math major. Even after finishing MATH201, I have been enjoying going to her office every Friday to chat with her, have some coffee/tea, play card games, etc. for the past few semesters. She's the sweetest and most caring professor I have had!”

Kayla Lee

Sean Cox, Ph.D., Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics

“Dr. Cox is also my favorite professor because he made MATH300 Intro to Math Reasoning approachable. All of the math classes I had taken before MATH300 were more straightforward. I struggled a lot in MATH300, but Dr. Cox is a patient, understanding and supportive professor, which helped me a lot in this class.”

Kayla Lee

thanks to doctor caddie alford in the english department

Caddie Alford, Ph.D., Department of English

“I have had amazing experiences with all of my professors so far, but Dr. Caddie Alford's teaching is really special. Dr. Alford's energy and enthusiasm is infectious—it is impossible to listen to one of her lectures without being engaged. You can tell she is teaching because she is fascinated by the subject and excited to talk about it. She is open to any and all questions and creates space for open discussions in class. Overall, she is just an incredibly intelligent and kind human who is great at teaching!”

Alicia Bonilla

Christopher Saladino and Amanda Wintersieck, Ph.D., Department of Political Science

“I deeply appreciate both Professor Saladino and Dr. Wintersieck. Both are very knowledgeable and understanding people, who truly want you to succeed and will aid you in that as long as you advocate for yourself and do the work. For me personally, their teaching styles keep me engaged and I find myself learning without even trying.”

Claire Dunn

John Froitzheim, Ph.D., Department of Political Science

“My favorite professor is Dr. John Froitzheim. He is a wonderful instructor and extremely supportive of his students, offering me critical feedback to improve my skill as a writer and supporting my efforts to pursue extracurricular opportunities. I'm extremely grateful to have taken courses with him!”

Katie Kerrigan

Susan Bodnar-Deren, Ph.D., Department of Sociology

“Dr. Bodnar-Deren is a mentor of mine. She is very enthusiastic about sociology and provides her students with great opportunities. She is great both professionally and personally. She has been an immense help to me and offers great advice."

Chantel Taylor

Marilyn Bishop, Ph.D., Department of Physics

“I cannot emphasize this enough, nor can I do justice to how inspiring and supportive this person has been in my life: My favorite professor is easily Dr. Marilyn Bishop! She has an incredible way of explaining complex information in a thorough and understandable away. She always makes time for her students, is unbelievably kind and is beyond knowledgeable. She is simply a treasure, and I would recommend that anyone concerned with learning more about the physical world around them take a class with her! She also has some amazing cooking tips.”

Aaron Shah

Volkan Aytar, Ph.D., Department of Sociology

“Although I've take only one class, my favorite professor in sociology is Dr. Volkan Aytar. He is enthusiastic in his lectures and truly cares about the well-being of his students. I found it easy to relate to him and his immigrant background as my parents are also immigrants.”

Andy Shar

thank you to doctor gabriela leon-perez in the sociology department

Gabriela Leon-Perez, Ph.D., Department of Sociology

“Dr. Leon-Perez is another favorite of mine. She was very enthusiastic about sociology. She is supportive, easy to talk to and teaches difficult topics well. I took her Research Methods course two years ago. It was challenging, but I learned so much from it, and it helped set the foundation for my research experiences. She has also been great about sending opportunities through the sociology emails!”

Chantel Taylor

Christopher Ehrhardt, Ph.D., Department of Forensic Science

“Although I've take only one class, my favorite professor in forensic science is Dr. Christopher Ehrhardt. He is very passionate about the material and always brings in intriguing case studies that highlight why the material matters.”

Andy Shar

Nathan Bickett, Advisor

“While he is not a professor, my advisor Nathan Bickett deserves an honorable mention. He has been integral in the navigating of not only this major, but my whole college experience.”

Claire Dunn

Mallory Perryman, Ph.D., and Nancy Kent-Smith, Mass Communications: Broadcast

“All of the Robertson School's professors were great and passionate about journalism. For my favorite, I am stuck choosing between Dr. Mallory Perryman and Professor Nancy Kent-Smith. These two professors have supported me through it all. Whether I needed a letter of recommendation or advice on a story, I could always trust them to have my back. If you can take a course with them, I recommend it.”

Jessica Johnson

a quote from student jordan hancock about professor eugene mills that reads 'he creates a safe environment for you to think freely'

Eugene Mills, Ph.D., Department of Philosophy

“Professor Mills. He taught my epistemology class. Professor Mills always encourages students to think outside the box. He creates a safe environment for you to think freely and explore your imagination.”

Jordan Hancock

Tricia Smith, Ph.D., Department of Biology

“My favorite professor was Dr. Smith, hands down. Dr. Smith is a fantastic and thoughtful teacher. She spends two to three hours a week for each of her classes conducting office hours, where students can talk to her about anything: class material, career advice, exciting research going on around the world, etc. She is also a great mentor! After taking Cellular and Molecular Biology with her, I precepted her class for two semesters, and she was always there to assist me and other classmates when we held review sessions, made a mistake or wanted to blab about biology!”

Vineeth Vaidyula

Jess Collins, Mass Communications: Advertising

“You will never meet someone who cares as deeply or as loudly as she does. Jess is a nurturer, a pusher and a take-no-BS human being. I'd never felt more inspired to "Get off my *** and WORK" — Kim Kardashian. (I included this because Jess would like that) But in all seriousness, Jess is simply there to draw the best out of you. She sees it, she calls it out, and she finds the best way to teach you how to harness and make use of it. She is full of wisdom and life hacks. She calls it how she sees it. She is one of a kind. An experience at the Robertson School is not complete unless you have taken a course by Jess Collins. I left her class knowing all sorts of things about myself that I did not believe in before, but I do now because of her belief in me.”

Celine Herbez

Jay Adams, Mass Communications: Advertising

“Art Director. Dry Humor. Comedian. Monotone. These are all individual compliments that suit only Jay Adams. He is an an undercover cheerleader disguised as a baseball coach. Jay doesn't think small scale, he is a campaign or nothing kind of guy. If you ask Jay, 'why?,' he'll just say, 'why not?' And he will not laugh because he is serious. There isn't anything stopping you, and certainly not in any of Jay's creative classrooms. He is not interested in monotonous writing exercises or forcing you to read a textbook, he just wants you to make stuff. Because, why not? He is kind, personable and believes in your work. I mean hey, he submitted my work to the Addy's behind my back and got me a Silver and Gold Addy. That is the kind of professor you want in your corner.”

Celine Herbez

thank you to marcel jennings who teaches in the mass communications advertising program

Marcel Jennings, Mass Communications: Advertising

“He is goofy, creative and a wordsmith. Marcel Jennings tells you to take what you think you know and break it in half. I found myself bound by all of these things I thought had to happen for an ad to exist, and he simply did not hold me to them. He pushed exploration and experimentation. He facilitated an environment where no idea was a bad idea, well... except some. He was open to a counter argument, except when it came to puns, and put you on the same playing field as if your perspective was just as valid as his. This is important. This is huge to our development as students. And this makes him a great professor.”

Celine Herbez