The new director of special education programs and coordinator of off-campus special education sites at Cabrini College always wanted to be a computer teacher. It was not until one day at a volunteer program called Pea Pods, a program for children with Down syndrome, that Christina Fink found her calling with special needs children.
After 14 years of being a teacher for autistic students in the Philadelphia school district, Fink decided to pursue her dream job of becoming a college professor.
She became an adjunct professor for Cabrini at an off-campus site for graduate students pursuing their master’s degree in one of four categories related to special education. She then switched from the teaching aspect to the organizational side.
She just recently received the position of director of special education programs and coordinator of off-campus sites. Her job includes organizing these special education sites, interviewing prospective adjunct professors and guiding the graduate students with their goals and classes.
“For most of the graduate students, this is their second career,” Fink said. “Many of them had been accountants or lawyers and decide they want to come back to school to become specialized teachers. I guide them through the two-year process.”
This new office job has been quite a switch for Fink because she has always been the one in front of the class, not in the cubicle.
“It has been hard adjusting to office life because I have so many new things in here that I did not have in my classroom,” Fink said. “I can’t believe I have my own voicemail.”
Luckily, the campus community has been here to aid Fink in her transition. She has deeply appreciated all the support she gets from Dean Dennis Dougherty, as well as fellow staff members.
“I love Cabrini and it has been a great fit for me,” Fink said. “I feel very comfortable and enjoy meeting all the people on campus. Because people are so welcoming, I really like I’m part of a family-knit community.”
One of the biggest challenges for Fink has been missing her students. She feels that she does not really know anything about the undergraduates here at Cabrini, and she is excited to start connecting the graduate and undergraduate programs. She would like to take aspects of the undergraduate education and incorporate that into the graduate program, especially Cabrini’s engagement with the common good courses.
“I just recently learned about ECG and I think it could flourish at the graduate level,” Fink said. “I would like to teach the adjunct professors about the program and incorporate it into their teaching.” ECG refers to Cabrini’s unique social justice core education courses.
Part of the reason Fink believes social justice courses could be so successful with her graduate students is because many of them have come from previous careers and companies that could possibly assist in some ways.
“The curriculum is so accelerated because the graduate students are done in two years,” Fink said. “This makes it difficult to incorporate a new program. Maybe some of their connections with companies could help sponsor some undergraduate ECG programs.”
While her mission to incorporate undergraduate and graduate curriculums is a hefty one, she also has many other goals for the upcoming year. She would like to start many programs at Cabrini including a doctoral program at the graduate level, an urban education program and an English as second language program.
Even though Fink has quite a lot on her plate at Cabrini, she has plenty to keep her busy outside of campus. Originally from Shickshinny, Pa., a small town in the Poconos, she now lives in Center City, Philadelphia. She loves the city and the bustling lifestyle. The city suits her well because she is a very active person with many interests.
Her dynamic lifestyle began in college at East Stroudsburg University. She lived on campus, played many sports, joined a sorority, was part of residence life, worked in her dorm at the front-desk and was part of the student senate and council for exceptional children. She received her bachelor’s degree in special education and elementary education. She also received her master’s degree in reading, administration and supervisory special education. She then moved on to Neumann University where she received her doctorate in education administration.
Her hobbies today include coaching the Special Olympics, riding horses, traveling, hot-air balloons and her chocolate lab, Sanovia. Unfortunately for all the Eagles fans at Cabrini College, Fink happens to be a Dallas Cowboy’s fan and goes to the Thanksgiving game every year.