What it takes…

Courtney Kerrigan

Being a grad assistant requires a love of teaching

Starting as a graduate assistant helping professors with their classes for three years, Steven Haynes, in pursuit of his doctorate, now teaches three history classes of his own. Emily Horne | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Editor’s note: This semester, the features staff is taking a behind-the-scenes look at student jobs and activities. This part of the series examines what it takes to be a graduate assistant.

The average day for a graduate student is very similar to that of an undergraduate student – just pumped up a bit.

They still have classes, but fewer of them, and tons of work, but it’s intensified.

Garth Sabo, graduate assistant for professor Claire Culleton’s Major Modern Writers class, said he reads a lot and admits that it can be challenging at times.

“It’s tough. I would say that going from an undergrad to grad student is a lot harder than high school to college,” Sabo said. “It’s satisfying, though, in that it’s towards a definite goal.”

Sabo earned his undergraduate degree from John Carroll University in English and is now pursuing his master’s in literature.

Although he is just an assistant this semester, Sabo does all of the grading and is required to take a class that will prepare him to teach his own College Writing class next semester.

Much like Sabo, Kathryn Golsan, graduate student and teacher of three communications courses, said that the workload can be intimidating.

“It’s challenging, but it’s doable if you’re motivated for it,” Golsan said.

Graduate students like Sabo and Golsan have specific responsibilities they must uphold every day.

On top of attending classes themselves, grad students must hold office hours, engage in meetings with their advisers and prepare for their classes.

“It’s really a preparation for prediction of what’s going to happen in the classroom,” Golsan said.

Golsan received her undergraduate degree from Northeastern State University in Oklahoma this past spring. She said she hopes to continue on to a Ph.D. program and become a professor of the basic communications course.

Although Golsan attends four classes in addition to teaching, she confesses she enjoys teaching more than being taught.

“I love teaching. Once you feel it, you’re a teacher,” Golsan said. “I really love students and building a relationship with them.”

Graduate student Michael Allen has a similar opinion of his experience teaching two physical geography classes. He also takes three classes on the side.

While Allen said the workload can be overwhelming, he admits that it’s all worth it as he works toward his master’s degree in geography.

“The department of geography is very diverse, very friendly and everybody is willing to help you if you need assistance,” Allen said. “It’s like a family of sorts.”

With an undergraduate degree from California University of Pennsylvania in earth science, Allen applied for the graduate program at Kent State.

After being accepted, he was appointed as a research assistant last year, and then assigned to teach classes Mondays and Wednesdays this semester.

It’s obvious one must enjoy teaching in order to pursue a graduate program, but for Steven Haynes, it’s the research and learning that attracts him.

After receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1999 at Fort Hays State University in history, Haynes earned his master’s degree at Wichita State in 2003.

He has now been teaching at Kent State for about three years, in pursuit of his doctorate.

Starting off as a graduate assistant, Haynes helped with classes under other professors for three years. He now teaches three history classes of his own.

With the goal of teaching at the college level, Haynes said he always liked teaching and enjoys taking what he learns and sharing it with his students.

“You have to take the joy you find in the subject and try and give it to your students,” Haynes said.

Contact features correspondent Courtney Kerrigan at [email protected].