Part 1: The Interview
This section includes the prepared questions and the professor's personal responses. The professor that I am interviewing is currently my English 2150 professor, S.M. Cooper, who is a wonderful teacher and, as I found through this interview, a wonderfully interesting person.
(Use for reflection) Goal: to develop and use collaborative and interpersonal skills. To build relationships with professors in order to get the most out of one’s academic experience and to utilize their advice and guidance in order to be the best student one can be.
Abby : The goal of this interview is to make the most out of my academic experience and utilize every source of help in order to make myself the best student possible. One source is my personal relationship with you as a teacher. Tell me a little bit of your background. Where did you attend college and what was your major?
Cooper: I completed my undergrad at Clemson and then went on to receive my graduate at Purdue University. Purdue was much bigger than Clemson and was definitely a different experience. It made Clemson feel so small; it made me feel small. I majored in literary studies with a minor in women’s studies. My minor was apart of my thesis for graduate school and I mainly focused on theoretical principals of woman's studies.
Abby: Did you know exactly what you wanted to do or was it more of a learning-as-you-go-along process?
Cooper: I had no clue what I wanted to do. I entered as an English major and had good professors, which helped immensely. Make sure to have a good relationship with professors. They can make or break a subject for you.
Abby: Why Clemson?
Cooper: I had a scholarship, so it was free.
Abby: What leads to success in the field of English?
Cooper: Being critical of ideas, learning how to read closely and reading deep and wide. Make sure you have a large citation in regard of information; for example: not just reading one poem and thinking you know poetry.
Abby: Do you have any particular advice for anyone entering the field of English?
Cooper: Take courses based on professors. Most courses are only as strong as the professors teaching them. Hang out with professors; that will help when or if you need a recommendation. Go to as many readings as you can and interact as much as you can with those who are better than you, whether they are teachers or writers. Make sure stay in contact with them, even if it's just the small action of following them on social media.
Abby: In general, what do you think leads to success in life?
Cooper: Knowing what you want to do, having a passion for something. Do something that you would do for free.
Abby: What do you do in addition to teaching?
Cooper: I lead a feminist book club in Greenville which consists of thirty five women. We couldn't get any men to join [laughs]. I also own a CrossFit here in town. Let's see, I also write poetry.
Abby: What do you like best about your job? Don't worry there's no cameras here.
Cooper: [Laughs] I like the ability to teach lots of different things and that don’t have to use the same syllabus every semester. I like to work with students who want to work, it makes my job more fun.
Abby: What do you do for fun? Hobbies?
Cooper: Hiking. I like doing work at breweries, like grading papers and such. I like to cook.
Abby: What are the most common mistakes that students make?
Cooper: When students say "I don't have to be a good writer". Writing is about how a person thinks, more than anything else. When student's say "I don't like to write or read fluff". In order to be a good writer or even a good student, it is important to expose yourself to all types of writing, even if you don't like it. I've also noticed a common mistake is when students come here because of their families. They end up coming for the wrong reasons and not forming a connection to the university and its traditions.
Abby: How do you define learning?
Cooper: Learning a process of being and staying open to ideas. It is being challenged in your ideas but staying true to your beliefs.
Abby: What subject was most difficult for you as a college student and why?
Cooper: Math, I can't add or subtract [laughs].
Abby: [Laughs with her] What non-academic skill do you think is the most important for college students? What is the greatest non-academic skill that college students today lack?
Cooper: The most important non-academic skill I would say would be learning how to deal with life, and learning how to stay balanced, for example balancing a schedule. Learn what makes them happy. I would say that students in general lack those and have a lack in communication.
Abby: Thank you so much for your time! You were such a great help!
Cooper: No problem! I'll see you in class tomorrow!