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Five New Faculty Join CLA

Michael Hershey
Graduate Assistant, College of Liberal Arts

A cohort of five talented faculty members joined the Mount St. Mary's University College of Liberal Arts for the 2022-23 academic year.

Manuel Garzon, Ph.D.

manuel-garzon.jpegThe newest faculty member to the World Languages Department is Manuel Garzon, who joined the Mount in August 2022. Garzon was born in Columbia where he earned two bachelor’s degrees in political science and philosophy from the Universidad de los Andes, in Bogotá. He then went on to the University of Pittsburgh where he received a Master of Arts, as well as, his Ph.D. in Spanish and Latin American studies. Dr. Garzon studied linguistics and anxiously awaits being able to teach advanced classes that combine the Spanish language with the culture of Latin America.

He is currently teaching Spanish 101 and has been impressed with how much students participate and how interested they are in the material. The secret to his teaching is simple. “Just add humor,” he said. Being well-versed in pop culture and history, he is delving into subjects like cinema and tracking cultural evolutions that his students find interesting. Learning how history is remembered and has been interpreted in the English-speaking world versus Latin America has always fascinated him.

Looking back on his time as a college student, Garzon remembers feeling intimidated whenever he felt confused in class. “One challenge I had to overcome was a fear of not knowing and showing other people that you don’t understand something,” he said. It is easy to feel humbled going into college classes and frightened to try new things, but the best way to combat this fear is to recognize that it will not always be easy. When asked about the difficulties of teaching he responded, “lecturing students and seeing students fall into despair.” He wants to teach the students how to improve one another, build each other up and learn together.

The Mount's mission to “lead lives of significance in service to God and others” drew Garzon to Emmitsburg. Remembering his Jesuit primary education, he was always called to “Be more to serve more.” 

Mai Truong, Ph.D.

truong.pngThe newest faculty member in the Political Science Department, Mai Truong, this year has studied all over the world, getting her BA in English from Hanoi University of Science and Technology, her MA at the University of Sussex, and her Ph.D. at the University of Arizona. Truong is teaching two fascinating courses this year: "Dictatorship: Could it Happen Here?" and "Political Analysis." Her classroom philosophy follows: “I emphasize helping students see the big picture of the political world, and constructing their own arguments to explain political phenomena.”

In studying political science, Truong keeps her content as current as possible. Staying updated on the latest events is key to being an informed global citizen. She was excited that on her first day of class she was getting plenty of questions from inquisitive students, and impressed that the discussions in her classes are just as engaging to her as they are for the students.

When asked why she teaches she replied, “It’s meaningful to provide knowledge to the next generation…teaching helps me learn new skills.” The environment at the Mount is ideal for political debates where critical discussions happen and all perspectives are listened to with respect.

Truong is impressed by the small class sizes and the freedom to teach topics of interest to her. The Mount is unique for these reasons; not only do the students get to follow their passions, but professors are driven to follow theirs as well. Truong wants to challenge her students while simultaneously keeping them motivated and engaged with the content. She said, “I look forward to getting to know the students and what their skills and strengths are. To utilize their strengths and improve their weaknesses.” Commenting on conflicts currently unraveling in the world is the best way to captivate her students and keep them coming back to her classes, she noted.

In urging students to be curious about the world and seek knowledge, Truong advises that “you don’t have to study for hours and hours. Just 5 or 10 minutes every day will help you thrive.” 

Rika Dunlap, Ph.D.

dunlap-rika.jpgRika Dunlap of the Philosophy Department is teaching "Philosophy in the Modern Age." Before coming to the Mount, she taught philosophy at the University of Guam for four years and before that, taught at Seattle University. She loves to share her passion by teaching the value of knowledge, the nature of truth and the human good.

Dunlap was shocked to see that even her core classes were so small. “I really like the small classes…Being in a room with less than 20 people (feels) very intimate,” she said. Getting to hear everyone’s voice during discussions and debates ensures diverse perspectives are heard and respected.

The students are the most important part about the Mount and Dunlap wants to design her classes around what the students want to learn: “Every school is different and has its own culture. What do (students) here find interesting and what issues do they want to discuss?” she asked.

Dunlap loves how much philosophy is valued at the Mount. Philosophy can easily get overlooked as another elective, but here every student gains valuable skills by taking a few philosophy classes.

She offers words of wisdom to her students: “Time flies. As you get older, time goes faster and college will be gone before you know it. Devote as much time to studying as many different things as possible.” There is so much to learn and everyone has a chance to find their passion at the Mount so don’t be afraid to try a different elective or go for a minor if a subject piques your interest. 

The community between the students and staff is so unique to the Mount. “(It) is a great place to grow. Here you can develop yourself with the help of the staff and the students,” Dunlap shared. The Mount is a place where people come together to passionately learn and empower themselves with the knowledge to become ethical leaders. 

Roberto de la Noval, Ph.D.

delanoval_headshot.jpgRoberto de la Noval joined the Theology Department after writing and researching out of the University of Notre Dame for several years as he earned his Master of Arts in Christian studies and Ph.D. in theology.

De la Noval is teaching "Encountering Christ," a core class that focuses on how Jesus, in his deeds, continuously challenges us to think about how we spend our time, talent and treasure. He hopes that through this class he can “share with students the kind of questions whose answers can shape a life. There is something beautiful about watching a person’s mind develop,” he said. De la Noval wants his students to take what they learn and apply it to their lives. “We are so often taught to never talk about religion and politics, and college is a place where students can articulate their convictions about what is best for themselves and the world,” he shared.

One of de la Noval’s favorite assignments involves placing students in discussion groups that must meet outside of class in a public space and openly defend their beliefs. “It’s fun seeing students take learning into their own hands and it’s with their friends so it builds the skills to talk about things that matter,” he explained. He wants his students to be able to have difficult conversations that are often discouraged so that they can live lives of conviction and be mindful of their philosophies.

The Mount prides itself in presenting its students with myriad perspectives to demonstrate the value of diversity. Students are also taught to be humble and accept that they will not always know the right answer or be able to find one as well as to understand that the acquisition of knowledge is a journey that is best traveled with friends. De la Noval takes this charge very seriously with his students and often contemplates how to teach a culturally and religiously diverse student body. He said: “Theology presents something different to every student; it all depends on how you present it.” He encourages all his students to stay open-minded and to seek out people with whom they disagree to obtain a better understanding of the Mount community.

De la Noval has made a rapid adjustment in coming to Emmitsburg as only a few months ago he was doing research and writing at the Lonergan Institute at Boston College. Within the first week of classes, he received emails from students saying how much they were enjoying his class. In a reflection of that kindness, de la Noval shared his best advice to students: “Every day take a moment to take some deep breaths and remind yourself that you are worthy of love regardless of what happens today.” 

Sheldon Shealer

shealer2.jpgThe Mount welcomed back one of our own this year with the hiring of lecturer Sheldon Shealer III, C’ 90, to the faculty. He had been an adjunct professor here for 10 years which were broken up by the time he spent working for ESPN. He came back to the Mount in 2018 and was welcomed as a full-time faculty member this fall.

This semester, Shealer is overseeing the ESPN Practicum, which prepares students to operate cameras, produce shows, and edit footage for replays. “I’m looking forward to establishing (the ESPN) program as an important part of our communication department.” The Mount recently joined the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and the arrangement includes a live broadcast agreement with ESPN. Under the direction of the Mount's Coordinator of Live Broadcast David Haag and Shealer, Mount St. Mary’s students are taking leadership roles to produce these live events while also learning from and interacting with professionals in the field. The broadcast agreement has the Mount producing at least 60 home games in 2022-2023 for ESPN+ and ESPNU and even more in the 2023-2024 school year.

In his time as a sports journalist for ESPN, Shealer worked with interns and aspiring journalists. “I love making connections with students who have plans to work in the media and communication world… This opportunity at MSM allows me to interact with large numbers of students,” he said. Building relationships has always been a strength of Shealer's and he is ecstatic to be leading the charge of this partnership for his alma mater and quality sports reporting.

Being kept busy between classes and managing interns is nothing new to Shealer. He remembers being challenged as a Mount student while also working as a full-time sports journalist his sophomore year: “I was juggling a 40-hour work week with a full college course schedule. For three years, I did not get much sleep, but it was totally worth it.” Needless to say, he has found his passion in the business, and what better way to express it than to be a teacher for the next generation.

The best advice that Shealer wants to impart to his students is: “Internships, internships, internships! Use your time in college to give your career a test run through an internship. At best, it provides you a job…at worst, you will learn that job isn’t for you and you have time to pivot before you end up in a profession you don’t enjoy.” Experience is everything to Shealer, and he wants all his students to try as many things as they can while still in college. He advises students to stick to it and master their craft once they have found what they love to do. 

Michael Hershey
Graduate Assistant, College of Liberal Arts