Professor Anne Collins encourages her students to have an opinion. She is open to new experiences and ideas, and incorporates that same enthusiasm in the classroom. I am privileged to be a part of the community she has successfully built within her classroom. Professor Collins’ appreciation for the narratives of individuals of every background makes her class incredibly valuable in today’s society. Everyone has a story…
Hometown: Troy, NY
Number of years at Siena: 3
Favorite Books: To Kill a Mockingbird; Glass Castle; Jane Eyre; A Prayer for Owen Meany
Her Campus: What is your position at Siena, and how did you get here?
Professor Collins: I am a visiting First Year Seminar professor at Siena College. I taught at Hudson Valley Community College for 25 years before I heard about the First Year Seminar position. Initially, I had thought that I was too old to change jobs, but I was looking for something different. I wanted something that focused on classroom discussion, so I decided to go for the interview.
HC: What do you find most rewarding about your position?
Professor Collins: First Year Seminar affords me the opportunity to teach students for an entire year, which allows me to get to know the students in a way that I couldn’t in other positions. I also really enjoy the sense of community that First Year Seminar fosters, and teaching around the Franciscan themes. I believe these themes, such as environmental awareness and respect for diversity, are important to contemplate and apply in society today.
HC: What do you find most challenging about your position?
Professor Collins: Sometimes I feel that instilling the importance of writing and communication can be difficult if students are particularly focused on a particular major. Some students don’t find value in the diverse topics I teach because they are so focused on a major. But I think everyone can take something from First Year Seminar, and it’s my responsibility to convince students of the importance.
HC: Can you talk about what it is like to live in another country? Where did you live and for how long?
Professor Collins: I lived in Ireland for 3 years. I was able to travel extensively around Europe, and it was a great experience for me. The time I spent in Ireland has profoundly shaped my life. I met my husband there, and my experiences as a student and teacher in Ireland have awarded me a more global prospective.
HC: What did you struggle with while living outside America?
Professor Collins: It was difficult at times because I was a student who didn’t have a lot of money, so my living accommodations were pretty sparse. Student housing was not very luxurious, and one of the places I lived did not even have a refrigerator. I also found that as an American, I was often stereotyped by both men and women. In a way these assumptions helped me learn what it’s like to be the “other”, or someone people judge without knowing.
HC: What was your most memorable experience there?
Professor Collins: My most memorable experience is my first date with my husband. He picked me up on his bicycle, and we rode to the bus stop. I sat on the crossbar while he cycled 5 miles down hills and over bumps. Once we got to the bus stop, we got on the bus that took us the rest of the way to our destination. On the way back we found that the bike had been vandalized, so we walked five miles back. It was a pretty unconventional date, and friends always asked why I went out with him again. But it wasn’t about a cool car or anything like that, I knew he was the one.
HC: Lastly, is there any advice you would give Siena students?
Professor Collins: Don’t be afraid to take courses and pursue experiences that are outside of your comfort zone. Sometimes trying things that are new and different can lead you in a direction you never would have anticipated.