Posted on: Thursday, December 10, 2020
One of Simone Keller’s top priorities in her first semester teaching University 101 was to help her students fall in love with the University of South Carolina. What Simone did not anticipate, was that in the process of teaching students to love Carolina, Simone began to develop a stronger connection and commitment to the university herself.
Simone, Director of Alumni Affinity Engagement for the USC Alumni Association, recalls the impact that teaching her students about USC’s history had on her. As a new University 101 Instructor, she found she was learning about the university at the same time as her students. “I’ve learned about the rich history of the university, how things have changed, and where the university is going. ”A walking tour of the Horseshoe, designed to cover history and traditions, reminded her that working for the flagship institution of the state had been her longtime goal. “I remember standing by the South Caroliniana and looking towards the Maxcy Monument - in that moment I was overcome with how beautiful the University of South Carolina is and how the opportunity to both work and teach here brings me so much joy,” she says.
Teaching University 101 is like an extended orientation as a staff member. As I learn more about the university, I feel more connected to the university, and I care more about the university.
- Mike Lagomarsine
Similarly to Simone, Mike Lagomarsine shared the importance of learning alongside his students. “Teaching University 101 is like an extended orientation as a staff member. As I learn more about the university, I feel more connected to the university, and I care more about the university. I didn’t go here as an undergraduate student, but I feel like I did!”
Extensive research shows the impact University 101 has in helping first-year students transition successfully into the University of South Carolina and develop a sense of belonging. The same is true for instructors, who develop a network of colleagues, learn more about the university, and achieve an enhanced purpose and connection with its mission.
One of the reasons that Mike Lagomarsine, Assistant Director of Fitness for Campus Recreation, decided to accept a position working at the University of South Carolina was the opportunity to teach University 101. “I realized what a great impact I could have in addition to my 9 to 5 job. I would have this other opportunity to interact with students and help them become comfortable at USC.” Now in his third year as an instructor, Mike’s goal of making an impact continues to be realized every year. “Teaching gives me a sense of pride. I’m doing more than just my job, I’m going above and beyond.”
If I can help one student in my class learn one resource or feel like they have a connection, or made a friend, then it was a good day. It makes me feel connected to what we’re doing here at USC.
- Ali Mathwig
For Ali Mathwig, Director of Advising in the South Carolina Honors College, teaching University 101 helps her feel like she is making a difference. “Everyone wants to feel like they wake up and go to work that is meaningful, and University 101 helps me do that. If I can help one student in my class learn one resource or feel like they have a connection, or made a friend, then it was a good day. It makes me feel connected to what we’re doing here at USC.”
At the same time, participating in University 101 has allowed Ali to meet and collaborate with staff in other units. The ability to network makes a large university feel a little smaller, and, in fact, almost 87% of instructors report that teaching University 101 increases their network of colleagues at USC.
“I get to meet people across campus that I would have never met before and learn about what other offices are doing,” says Ali. “This has helped me to learn so much more about the university outside of my little bubble.”