Why I Teach

In the daily rhythm of academics, students and alumni rarely get to learn what drives faculty to teach in the first place. And so we asked. Their answers reveal a desire to open young minds and the impact they have made on their students.

photography by Kellie Jo Brown

Micaela Szykman Gunther and Student

"It's rewarding to inspire students to conserve wildlife. Tracking and observing elk is one way I show students the techniques for protecting wildlife and their habitats."
Micaela Szykman Gunther, Wildlife

"I’m passionate about teaching my students about the Middle East. I believe that understanding this region gives them the knowledge to debunk ‘alternative facts’ and the critical thinking skills to engage their world and guide their actions."
Leena Dallasheh, History

Leena Dallasheh with Students

Dan Aldag

"There's nothing more thrilling as a professor than watching students use what they learned from me as a launching pad for new ideas, new sounds, and new ways of looking at the world."
Dan Aldag, Music

"Delving into the most important philosophical questions about life and working with my students to explore answers is deeply fulfilling. Doing this has made me appreciate the different ways we experience the world meaningfully, just as I experience life through running in our beautiful redwood forest."
Loren Cannon, Philosophy

Loren Cannon

Melinda Myers

"I encourage my students to examine science through the lens of social justice. I hope they use those tools to become potent activists who make science more inclusive. I want them to know how to dismantle the systems that perpetuate inequality, and the reasons why they should."
Melinda Myers, Psychology

"I teach Psychology but I also teach yoga, which helps me manage stress and teach more effectively. For example, I teach about the neurodevelopmental effects of trauma and how yoga can change the brain. Students begin to connect their own childhood trauma to their current functioning. I'm inspired by students who, like me, came from impoverished or stressful households, because when they learn that all humans can overcome such trauma, I see them begin to blossom. They find their own strength and agency to go out and powerfully change the world."
Tasha Howe, Psychology

Tasha Howe

Armeda Reitzel

"I love to watch my students grow from their first semester to the moment they walk across the stage to receive their diplomas. When they graduate, I hope my students take with them some of my positive outlook on life, including having fun."
Armeda Reitzel, Communication

"I had teachers who inspired me to love learning and I strive to do the same with my students in the classroom and through field work at places like the Mattole River. These experiences instill the joy of scientific discovery and help remove the stigma that science is unapproachable."
Mark Hemphill-Haley, Geology

Mark Hemphill-Haley

Paola Rodríguez Hidalgo

"As part of the Astronomy community, I’m passionate about educating future generations so they become part of the circle of knowledge. Their insight and intelligence strengthen that circle with each cycle."
Paola Rodríguez Hidalgo, Astronomy & Physics

It’s wonderful to know that you’ve made an impact on students’ lives, and I hope they know that they also impact my life. My interactions with them have made me a better teacher, communicator, and person."
Jeffrey Dunk, Environmental Science & Management

Jeffrey Dunk

Maral Attallah

The classroom should be a space for empowerment and motivation but also agitation and exploration. Teaching provides the opportunity to weave lesser-known narratives of rebellion and resistance into the stories we ‘think’ we know of those identified as marginalized and oppressed."
Maral Attallah, Critical Race, Gender & Sexuality Studies

"As a teacher, advisor, and mentor, I want to make sure I am a positive influence in the lives of my students. I integrate diverse and inclusive perspectives into my courses so students learn to celebrate not only their similarities but also their differences."
Sarita Ray Chaudhury, Business

Maral Attallah

Han-Sup Han

"It’s a pleasure to see my students get excited about what they’ve learned from our discussions. I feel that as a teacher and researcher in forestry, I have done my job. More importantly, I feel privileged to be able to make a positive impact on students’ learning."
Han-Sup Han, Forestry (standing)

"One of my students spoke at Black Graduation this past spring. She, like other graduates, stood at the microphone to thank her family. But she also thanked me for helping her explore new ways of thinking and seeing the world. I was on the verge of tears and had no idea she felt that way. Having that kind of impact on my students is why I teach."
Kerri Malloy, Native American Studies

Kerri Malloy

Kerri Malloy

"I hope my students will become teachers who fight for a curriculum that reflects the diversity of California and gives all students the opportunity to learn different languages, think for themselves, and access enrichment programs."
Marisol Ruiz, Education