Not many professors at Cabrini would consider wine-making and forensic science, essentials. However, Dr. Melinda Harrison, associate professor of chemistry, would. “When I was in school unfortunately I did not have the best teachers to teach me certain subjects so I thought as I struggled through it maybe I could teach students who couldn’t be reached before,” Harrison said.
Harrison has a background in forensic science. Her interests vary from running, reading, wine making and gardening to a professional interest in forensic science. One would never expect those interests upon meeting any professor. Harrison came to Cabrini from Duquesne University, where she earned her doctoral degree.
Harrison said she never really wanted to be a teacher. She wanted to be a forensic scientist. Harrison fell into teaching when she was assigned to teach a freshmen chemistry course during graduate school and “had never even written a lesson plan.”
Harrison realized she could relate to the students, and that is how she found her calling to be an educator. Her greatest influence was an undergraduate research mentor who she interned with. He is why she is where she is today.
Harrison wants students to know she uses real-world examples in her teaching and tries to talk about chemistry in the real world everyday. She feels that if you show students that science is in the world around you, then it will become more relatable.
Harrison wants to be established as a “good, solid teacher and instructor” and wants Cabrini students to know that “I’m going to be here and I’m not going to go anywhere, and want to be here to help as many students as I can with chemistry.”
Harrison wants Cabrini students to understand that even though her class may be a core she tries to make it fun. “I bring in examples. I do demos so it’s not just some boring typical lecture.”
Harrison wants to reach out to students and make a difference in their learning experience and by coming to Cabrini she thinks she will be able to do just that.
“I can relate to the students because I was them. I struggled and really had to work hard to get where I am today. I think that my ‘Ah’ moment was getting the opportunity to teach when I wasn’t really even wanting to do it in the first place.”