For my professor interview, I chose to go interview Dr. Mike Vassalos. Mr. Mike is an agribusiness professor here at Clemson and has been here for seven years. He is very flexible with his time and always willing to meet with me. Just to be polite, and it was a part of the assignment, I called in advance to set up an appointment with him and over the phone I told him I wanted to meet with him for about twenty minutes and ask him a few questions for another class. He told me I didn't need an appointment and to just swing by his office at my earliest convenience. So, I went to his office and asked him twelve of the questions that were on the "suggested questions to ask" sheet.
Question 1: "What do you do in addition to teaching?" His reply was that fifty percent of his job was research, and the other fifty percent was teaching. Which was relatively unsurprising to me because I figured that was what he did in order to know as much as he does. He is very smart.
Question 2: "Why did you choose this career/position?" His response was that when he was in graduate school at the University of Kentucky, he was a teachers assistant. And the teacher who who he was a teachers assistant for let him speak in front of the class and engage the class in different activities. That was when he realized that he really did enjoy teaching as well as gathering and organizing of the research for the professor he worked for.
Question 3: "What was your major in college?" When asked this question, Mr. Mike very quickly and ecstatically replied "Agribusiness all the way!" Meaning that was what he got his bachelors and masters degrees in. He is very enthusiastic about agribusiness.
Question 4: "What do you like the best about your job?" This question generated a very quick response as well. He said the best part about being a teacher was the daily interaction with his students and watching the young folks achieve their goals and chase their dreams. Also, he mentioned that he really liked the flexibility that being a teacher has to offer. Meaning that between research and teaching a few classes he still has a very flexible schedule.
Question 5: "What do you do for fun? Hobbies?" The first answer he told me when I asked him this I did not believe, but it was his answer. He said his favorite thing to do in his spare time was play basketball. I asked him if he meant to say "watch" basketball and he said no, I like to play. I knew he was a big basketball fanatic but I never knew he actually still played for fun. Also, he likes to fly fish and to go on road trips.
Question 6: "Are you where you thought you would be when you were in college?" To this question, he had a really short and strait forward answer. He simply said "You know, I never really gave it much thought."
Question 7: "How do you balance home, work, teaching, and researching?" Just like the answer you might expect, Mr. Mike said he just makes a very detailed schedule for himself every week and sticks to it. That way he doesn't get hung up on the basketball court too long.
Question 8: "What general advice would you give college students?" Also, just like I would expect out of a teacher, he said "go to class!" and "follow your dream of whatever it is you want to do, don't give up on it just because it is hard." I have gotten this same advice many times and not just from him.
Question 9: "What are the most common mistakes that students make?" Mr. Mikes reply to this question was "students often do not manage their time properly. Either they have poor study habits, or they just don't prepare themselves for what they know they need to prepare for, such as assignments, tests, etc.." Also, he made a comment about students just doing enough to get by, and not absorbing much information. I may have paraphrased that last part a little bit but he said something along those lines.
Question 10: "What are your expectations for students in your classroom?" I already knew the answer to this question because I have already been in a few of Mr. Mikes classes, but he said "If you just try, and I can see that you improve I am more than willing to help you. If you don't try, don't study, and don;t do the homework, I can't help you. Which may be a somewhat vague answer to some people but to me it's not, just try, and do all of your work. Those are his expectations.
I chose to interview Mr. Mike for a few reasons. One is because I knew he would be extremely willing to sit down with me and answer a few questions to help me on an assignment for another class. He has helped with homework and assignments that were not for his class in the past and I know he doesn't mind so that's one reason I went strait to him and nobody else. Another reason is because Mr. Mike and I have a very strong relationship going and I feel very comfortable talking to him and asking him questions. Also, every chance I get to go start a conversation with him, I will, just because frequent conversations with your professors is a good start to a better relationship with them.
For the most part, I really expected to get the type of responses to my questions that I got. Except for when I asked him about his hobbies, I totally was not expecting that answer but that was the only reply I got from him that really threw me for a loop. As a matter of fact, his replies to the whole "what are your hobbies?" question actually caught me by surprise. Aside from the basketball thing, I never knew he enjoyed fishing, he didn't really strike me as the fishing type of person. Also, he said when he was in school for his undergrad in Greece, he and his friends loved to go on road trips and travel. Most of this was new information to me except for the fact that he is Greek. As I said earlier, Mr. Mike and I have had many conversations on these same topics so I did already know a good bit about him, so not too much of it came as a surprise.
As far as things that I learned about Mr. Mike goes, he did share a few things with me that I did not already know. As I mentioned in the above paragraph, I did not ever know Mr. Mike enjoyed playing basketball, so that's something I learned. Nor did I ever know that he liked to travel and go on long excursions and road trips in Greece. Aside from these things, which I reacted to in the previous paragraph already, I can't say I learned anything academically about him from the questions I asked that I didn't already know.
I came to Clemson in 2015, and Mr. Mike was my first teacher here. I knew then that he was going to be a great mentor, adviser, and professor. Over the last two years I have spent many hours in Mr.. Mikes office studying and doing homework. I realize now how spoiled I really am to have a professor like him. He really does care about my success, my grades, and who I am as a person. In the interview, we sat and talked for about twenty to twenty five minutes and as I asked him questions sometimes he would ask the question back to me. As if he were trying to learn the same traits about me. Overall, this interview made me even more aware of how fortunate I am to have such a great instructor. He definitely sets the bar very high for the other professors to "compete" with. In my point of view that is the case at least.