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New staff on campus excited for fall

Tamara R. Dennis 
 “I am Tamara (Tami) Dennis and I’m a new instructor in the College of Nursing. I was a labor and delivery nurse for 23 years at Colquitt Regional Medical Center in Moultrie, Ga. I’ve taught Maternal-Newborn Nursing and Women’s Health at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. I am currently completing my dissertation on PTSD and childbirth. I can’t say enough good things about the new faculty orientation. Everyone was very welcoming and the information was priceless.”

Danielle J. Alsandor
 “Prior to this faculty appointment, I worked for seven years in various higher education administration roles assisting college students academically and personally. I believe in paying it forward. During my academic journey, there have been dozens of people who have helped and believed in me. Thus, I seek to educate, challenge and support others in identifying, realizing and reaching their full potential. As a native of Louisiana, it’s hard being this far from fresh seafood and authentic Cajun & Creole cuisine, but I guess I will make visits home even more meaningful!
 “The University of Texas at Austin” Being new to VSU, I have been learning the campus and city; some of it by trial and error! The VSU faculty, staff and students I have encountered during my transition have been very friendly and helpful. New Faculty Orientation was well planned and it was great to connect with peers that are also new to VSU. The presenters distributed a great deal of information, so hopefully that minimizes the amount of surprises that will surface in the coming weeks.” Teaching and working with students (both undergraduate and graduate) are my passions. I hope to educate students both in and out of the classroom as they work toward their goals. As an assistant professor for graduate classes, I plan to prepare them for successful careers as thoughtful and competent leaders.”

Candace Witherspoon
 Previously taught accounting at Western Kentucky University and the University of Kentucky.
 “I am impressed by the resources that VSU dedicates to programs that foster students’ learning and success.”
 “My goal is to not only give students the tools necessary to be competitive in tomorrow’s workforce, but also to give students the necessary leadership skills.”

Jeffrey Cox
 “I’m JT Cox, a new assistant professor in the department of Middle, Secondary, Reading, and Deaf Education.  I just finished my Ph.D. in English Education at Florida State University, where I specialized in composition studies and pre-service teacher development.  I’m originally from Arizona (my undergrad and masters work were at Northern Arizona University).  I taught at high schools and middle schools in Arizona and Florida.  I’m delighted to be part of the VSU community.  I’ve been made to feel very welcome here.  The people are fantastic, and I look forward to working with pre-service teachers preparing to work in the Georgia secondary schools.” 
 “Finally, I don’t mind telling you that I published an article in the FSU student newspaper while I was there, and I’m happy to support you and your colleagues in your very important journalistic endeavors.  If there’s anything else I can do to help you, please don’t hesitate to ask.  Cheers!!”

Heidi C. Gonzalez
 “Hi! I am Heidi Gonzalez, a 1994 Nursing Graduate from VSU, and it is wonderful to be back to share my passion and love of nursing with the students here at VSU.  During this orientation process, the entire faculty has been knowledgeable and have given outstanding resources. Thank YOU!”

Cy L. Mott
 “I came to Valdosta State University after teaching for two years at Kentucky Wesleyan College.  My research focuses on animal behavior; particularly on aggression, predation and cannibalism among amphibians.  I am also engaged in collaborative research that uses remote cameras to describe the behavior of beavers as it occurs within the lodge. I am initiating new projects that seek to identify the factors contributing to species’ geographic range sizes.  Although I have not been in Valdosta long, I can easily say that VSU has the most beautiful campus I have set foot on, hands down!  Based on the new faculty orientation, it is clear that VSU has faculty and staff that are truly concerned about students’ welfare, and are able to provide a learning environment using the latest technology.  In teaching Introductory Biology, I hope to expose students to basic concepts of biology and to the wide diversity of fields available to them in their upper level courses and future careers.”

Dr. Jackson P. Rainer
 “I am Dr. Jackson Rainer, the new head of the Department of Psychology and Counseling.  I come from Georgia Southern University, where I was the Director of Clinical Training for the doctoral programs in clinical psychology.  I come into the psychology department with excitement.  There is a rich heritage of teaching, scholarship and service.  I’ve been welcomed by the faculty and look forward to finding a professional home at Valdosta State.”

Shaun V. Ault
 “It’s a huge change moving from the Bronx to Valdosta.  I love the open space, but not the heat and humidity.”

Jacob M Jewusiak
 “I received my Ph.D. from the University at Buffalo, were I specialized in Victorian literature and culture. While the massive novels of the nineteenth century might seem out of place in our contemporary culture of acceleration and distraction, Victorian England is where this whole process started. The development of railways, the telegraph and steam ships changed the way people experienced time and space in a way similar to how the internet continues to shape our own. One of my goals in teaching English at VSU is to encourage conversations about how the cultural and literary legacy of the 19th century informs our own perceptions. Though I have only been in Valdosta for a short time, it has been a pleasure to engage with the students thus far. I look forward to meeting many, many more of you, so think about taking my class or stop by my office—I would be happy to meet you!

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