Teaching is 1% grading papers and 99% being interested in your students and subject you teach. The CBU science professors definitely love the science they teach, and always tried to express that in everything they did. This enjoyment of teaching and working with students has remained with me as I teach my own chemistry students at MUS. When I teach, I always try to think back to the first time I learned something new. I continually remind myself that at one time, I was in my students’ shoes … barely knowing what a chemical compound was, how to balance an equation, or even how to spell “stoichiometry” much less complete a problem. But, I always try to pattern my teaching after the great teachers I had in the School of Sciences. Many times, during my lectures, I’ll pause and chuckle to myself, knowing I just did something or said something just like a science professor I had at CBU. I’m proud to be a teacher, and I’m proud to say I’m a CBU graduate. After all, people see a science degree from CBU and immediately know the outstanding reputation of the School.
But, how did I decide to become a teacher? I worked at CBU after graduating with my Chemistry degree and attended graduate school at night to earn my M.A.T. I definitely had an interest in science and at the time was involved in many education outreach programs, so pursuing graduate work in education was a perfect fit. Once I finished my M.A.T, I took at job with Buckeye Technologies in the Product & Market Development Division as a Chemist. I enjoyed my work, and learned a great deal of real world applications of chemistry. However, I really wanted to go back into the classroom, and I had my chance. Through networking at ACS events like the High School Chemistry Competition (which CBU and ACS sponsor) I met many high school teachers. MUS had an opening for a chemistry instructor, and I readily accepted the chance to teach at a wonderful school like MUS. I will never regret pursuing a career in industry, because I learned so much during that time. However, teaching is definitely my calling. I have great students, and I love going down the halls and hearing “Hey Mrs. Sowell!” My students definitely know my classes are not easy. But, they also know that I will help them when they need me – just like all of my CBU science professors helped me. For some people, teaching high school might seem easy. I beg to differ! Anyone who says a high school teacher has a boring, effortless job evidently has never taught school. It’s a dream come true to teach at MUS, but I infinitely stay in running mode — keeping up with teenagers definitely keeps you on your toes!
Outside of the classroom, my husband Michael and I enjoy attending MUS sporting events together. I’m also involved in the local section of the American Chemical Society, where I currently serve as Chair. Also, I serve on a national committee for ACS where we (the committee) develop K-8 science outreach activities for National Chemistry Week and Chemists Celebrate Earth Day programs. Additionally, I serve as a member of the Program Advisory Committee for the Graduate Education Programs at CBU. My days are busy, but thankfully my loving husband and family support my volunteer efforts and my dedication to teaching. I work with wonderful people at MUS, and I can honestly say I really am having the time of my life teaching here! I know that I do not have 65 aspiring chemists in my classes, but as long as they walk away from their year of Chemistry with an appreciation of all that it has to offer, and what it has given us, I can most assuredly say I have done my job.