We asked several CAHNRS Ambassadors, excellent students who love WSU and their college, to name their favorite professors. And now we’re featuring those nominated educators in this weekly series.
Today we’re showcasing Kim Kidwell, CAHNRS executive associate dean and the associate dean of academic programs, as well as the founding Director of the Center for Transformational Learning and Leadership. Here are her answers to a few questions:
How did you pick this as a career?
I had an amazing instructor in an undergraduate general education course at the University of Illinois who was a corn geneticist. He was passionate, enthusiastic and highly engaged with the class, which intrigued me. I was shocked that someone could be that excited about corn genetics! I talked to him after class one day and ended up doing undergraduate research with him for 3 years. He helped me get into University of Wisconsin for graduate school, which was his alma mater.
I teach with passion and connection because of him: I know it matters how I show up for students. In fact, it can change lives – just like it did for me when he was my instructor.
What is your favorite thing about teaching college students?
Witnessing when students get it. I love to work with students to the point that they understand a concept, perhaps for the first time. It is exciting to watch them figure it out, and relate the information to something that is important to them, especially if the topic is challenging. It is fun to listen to students explain things correctly to each other and to apply what they are learning to solving problems.
Why do you love what you do?
Working with students gives me hope that the world will be better tomorrow than it is today. When students realize that they can make a difference, it gives them hope too. Life is full of challenges, and if students acquire the tools needed to overcome struggles, they develop resiliency skills that will serve them well throughout life. One of the most important things we support students with learning is what it takes for them to be resilient. No matter what the challenge is, they will have the confidence and willingness to persevere.
If you could provide any tips or advice for your students, or WSU students in general, what would they be?
Be curious. Life is full of wonderments. If we are curious, we can learn so much about things we are unfamiliar with or don’t understand. Being curious allows people to overcome judgements, insecurities, prejudice, righteousness, and many other types of feelings and reactions that get in the way of learning and creating meaningful relationships with people. When you don’t understand why people do what they do, get curious about it to gain appreciation for a different perspective.
Any other words of wisdom you’d like to pass along?
Enjoy the journey. As a society, we are results driven often to the point of our own demise. How you journey to the results is just as important as the outcome. In fact, if you let go of the expected outcome and mindfully enjoy the journey, sometimes you end up creating something that you didn’t even imagine was possible.