By James Saxinger
What brought you to RU, and why did you choose to work here?
“I had actually originally applied to RU in the year that I graduated right after which was August 2019. I got to the questionnaire portion of the interview and I didn't get any further than that the first time. Then, I got hired over at Wayne County and there was another opportunity to apply. I told my husband and he's like, ‘Give it a try. It's not going to hurt anything.’ and I'm really glad I did. I got an interview with Mr. Watson, and I came here. I got an interview with a tour of the campus and I really loved it.“
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
“I think it's my students not only learning content, but learning skills, being able to build friendships with other students in the classroom with me. There's some students that come in in the beginning that don't really talk very much, or they feel like introverted. By the end of the semester, I see them raising their hands, being able to speak out and understand that their voices are being heard and everything they say is very important.”
What do you do to have fun or relieve stress, or what Is your favorite hobby?
“I really enjoy reading. Reading is one of my passions. I love fiction. And so, whenever the classes begin, at the beginning of the semester, I make sure that students know that.“
Where did you grow up?
“I am from Albania and I lived there until I was about four. We moved to Turkey for about four more years and then finally we came to the states in 1997. I think the United States overall is very different from Albania. It's much bigger even. I think Michigan might even be bigger than Albania itself. I really like that people here are a lot more friendly. You're a lot more welcoming and there’s a lot more order.“
What is your favorite thing to do in the Rochester area or Michigan?
“We love going to Frankenmuth! It is almost like a weekly or biweekly thing. I love the cider mill, doughnuts and apple cider. Just my favorite! We go to Yates a lot. There is the awesome museums, like the Michigan History Museum I definitely encourage people to go to.“
What in your life do you feel most passionate about?
“I think it's just to make people feel comfortable in themselves. I went through some hard times myself and there were times when I wanted to give up. But I was reluctant and persevered, and I want everyone to know that if you have a dream, then you can reach it. So nothing is impossible and all you need is someone to tell you that sometimes, you know? It's like if you want to do this, do it and I'll be there. Keep nudging you on your way there.“
What is the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
“I think one of my biggest obstacles was when I had to face the Board of Education when I was in the secondary program over at Oakland University. The teacher who I was studying under, in the kind of first stage of pre student teaching, she told them that I had tried to forge my hours. I had to face the Board. However, I tried to explain them that the teacher kept on telling me that I could leave the minute that I would arrive there. And you know, we had to fill in 20 hours and I couldn't just not fill them. The board understood and they said they would give me a second chance. However the professor, who was not part of the meeting, had called the board and said, ‘I don't think she deserves a second chance.’ So, at that moment I was very let down and it was like a fork in the road. Continue where I am or stop and try a different route and stopping definitely was not an option. I was kind of tired of Oakland and so I was like Wayne State, here I come! And then I couldn't pass the math test for the life of me.”
What is a random fun fact about you?
“I like cheesy music. Very cheesy music. I love the 90s, early 2000s and but you will find all kinds of songs on my phone because I just love all sorts of music.”
What single piece of advice would you give to students today?
“I would say, be kind to others and always encourage them to follow their dreams because it will be reciprocated right back to you. And to embrace the journey and celebrate it as much as when you get to the finish line.”