Award-winning Elizabethtown College sociology professor Dr. Michele Lee Kozimor-King spoke on WITF-FM radio on August 22. She was a guest on Scott LaMar’s show, which spotlighted the Simple Living First Year Seminar (FYS) that Kozimor-King has taught for six years.
A major reason for the on-air discussion was the fact that Kozimor-King recently received the Excellence in Teaching First-Year Seminars Award, a national honor.
She was presented the award — co-sponsored by McGraw Hill and by the National Resource Center for the First Year Experience and Students in Transition — in February 2012 at the 31st Annual Conference on the First Year Experience, held in San Antonio, Texas. The conference
featured several presentations on the transition into the first year of college: “assessing the First-Year experience, teaching pedagogy, ways to engage students, service learning in the First-Year experience … everything you can imagine,” Kozimor-King said of the topics. With four years of experience at the conference, she even proposes her own seminars on topics like Living Learning Communities (LLCs). “I also led a session on mentoring in the First-Year program,” she said. “This year, I’m going to be proposing a session with the award-winner from last year.”
Kozimor-King and her Simple Living First-Year seminar were recognized for innovation and advancement of the first year experience and the college transition. The most thrilling element of the conference for Kozimor-King was not winning the award, though. “The most exciting part was being able to take my student with me,” she said. Barbara Prince ’12 accompanied Kozimor-King to the conference and assisted in the seminar on mentoring. “Watching [Prince] decide that that’s what she wanted to do, that was the turning point in her career. She realized that she wanted to study the scholarship of teaching and learning,” Kozimor-King said.
“The conference was an incredibly positive and enlightening experience,” said Prince, who is now a graduate student at West Virginia University. “I enjoyed very much that even when hearing about different professionals’ research, the emphasis was always on the student.” The organizers of the Conference offer fellowships for undergraduate students to attend the conference as well. “They really do like student involvement in the conference, which I think is really important,” Kozimor-King said.
The members of the Simple Living FYS also reside together in an LLC in Founders A. These students become close in a short period of time: they have class together, are in the same peer group, and live on the same floor. Many of these students have found value in such a structure. “Not only have we bonded with our passions of taking on this challenge of learning about simplicity, but we have become a family,” first-year and current Simple Living participant Jenny Laliberte said. Many students who are no longer in the class remember their experience fondly. Sophomore Anthony Fraccica said, “the best part was the experience of being on the Simple Living floor and all the activities we took part in.”
“The course demonstrated to me that perhaps I could get more out of life,” sophomore Shanise Marshall said. “On nice days, I might take the long way back to my residence hall that passes trees and flowers, or take a book outside to read. Nature has a great capacity for de-stressing.”
Senior Chad Feakins also continues to use some of the techniques he learned in class. “I attempt to use time management skills I learned in class to balance the heavy workload that comes with being a music major and computer science minor,” he said.
After her WITF-FM interview aired, Kozimor-King noticed an outpouring of support from the surrounding communities of Harrisburg, Lancaster and of course, Etown. A few proponents of Simple Living called in and chatted live with LaMar and Kozimor-King, and since the interview, she has received a multitude of emails and phone calls in support of the concept.
“There are so many people in the community who are interested in Simple Living because it’s something that they don’t expect college students to be interested in,” Kozimor-King said. Thanks to such support, she has been able to line up more speakers and programs for the seminar than she has in previous years, including an upcoming workshop on meditative drawing.
Kozimor-King remains thankful to those at Etown who have helped her along the way. “I wouldn’t have gotten the award if I didn’t have the amazing students and the support I’ve had,” she said. This support includes Dean of Faculty Dr. Fletcher McClellan, who nominated her for the award. “I really don’t see it as my award, I see it as our award at Elizabethtown College,” Kozimor-King said.