North Texas Daily

Professor Q&A Series: Italian professor Molly Sweigart

Professor Q&A Series: Italian professor Molly Sweigart

Professor Q&A Series: Italian professor Molly Sweigart
October 17
13:42 2013

Mariana Viana / Intern Writer

Where were you born and raised?

“I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio.”

Where did you go to school and what was your major?

“I went to the University of Colorado-Boulder for undergraduate and San Francisco State University for graduate school. I have a BA and MA in Italian. I also studied Norwegian for 2 years at the University of Colorado. I was going to study abroad in Norway, but did not, and that is one of my biggest regrets.”

How did you end up teaching at UNT?

“My husband and I were living in the Los Angeles area and we both got the itch to move somewhere different. We both found job opportunities here, mine with UNT, so we moved to Denton in January of 2010.”

What have you taught and what are you currently teaching at UNT?

“I have taught first through fourth semester Italian here at UNT. I am currently teaching 2 Italian 1010 classes and 2 Italian 2040 (third semester) classes.”

How long have you been teaching?

“I’ve been teaching off and on for the past 12 years.”

What rewards do you personally get from teaching?

“It sounds cliché, but the thing I love most about teaching is opening minds. Learning about a different culture and how they communicate is a very mind-expanding experience. I’ve traveled a lot throughout the years and I enjoy sharing what I’ve learned with my students. Communication is not a luxury, it’s a human necessity and learning how to communicate in a new way can be a very exciting and rewarding experience.”

What one thing or person made you passionate about your current career?

“I’ve had some great professors over the years, but the one who will always stand out for me was Graziana Lazzarino, my Italian Professor at the University of Colorado. She is a legend in the Italian academic community. She was such a talkative, laid back and approachable professor. She was very personable and had an independent and unique spirit that came across in her teaching style.”

What qualities do you most value in your students?

“I really appreciate the students who always come to class and participate. Participation and talking are key to learning a foreign language. As a teacher, I can only do so much. There is a point when students need to realize that active class participation is the only way they will progress in the language.”

What’s your advice to students to make the most out of their time in college?

“Looking back on my undergraduate experience, I really wish I had done a second major and that I had finished my minor – I was too eager to graduate. My one piece of advice would be to appreciate and to take full advantage of the learning environment that you are in here at UNT. Enjoy the learning experience and explore classes that you may not normally take. Don’t be so eager to graduate, that day will come, enjoy the many benefits of being part of an academic environment. There are a lot of people who would love to be in your shoes, so appreciate every second.”

What is your favorite journey/experience?

“I’ve had many enlightening and interesting experiences in my life but giving birth to and raising my daughter has definitely been the most life-changing and monumental experience. She’s the coolest and most beautiful person I’ve ever met. Having a child defines true love. She’ll be a year old this November and I’m loving every minute of being her mother.”

If you had to do it all over again and took another path, what profession would you like to attempt? What profession would you not like to do?

“I’ve always enjoyed writing, so perhaps I would have pursued an English degree and become either an English teacher and/or a writer. I’ve always been good with languages and writing, but never with math or science and part of me always wished that I could have excelled in math so I could spend time thinking about numbers. There’s something mysterious and fascinating about numbers. I wouldn’t like to teach junior high school. I have a feeling my patience would wear thin after the first week or so of teaching. I admire people who do, though.”

What is your favorite book/TV show?

“Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett blew my mind. Amazing book. I also love all of Tana French’s books. My favorite show was “Breaking Bad” – Bryan Cranston is mesmerizing. I’m into “The Walking Dead” now.”

What would you do if you had an extra hour every day?

“If I had an extra hour and I could do whatever my heart desired, I suppose I would go to the gym. Sounds rather mundane, but I used to love working out and now that I have a baby, finding the time to go is so hard. Part of the reason I love working out so much is that I love to eat. So, if I couldn’t go to the gym in my extra hour, I would cook a yummy meal for me and my family.”

What is your favorite saying/words to live by?

“My favorite saying that pertains to my professional life: ‘Learn a new language and gain a new soul.’ My favorite saying that I try to live by: ‘Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.’ I try to never do or say anything to anybody that I would not want said or done to me. My favorite saying of all time is an Arthur O’Shaughnessy quote: ‘We are the music-makers and we are the dreamers of dreams.’”

What are your plans for the future?

“My husband and I are live day-to-day types of people, so planning out my future is something I choose not to do. But, I know I would like to travel with my daughter, make sure she gets a good education and maybe even a brother or sister. I just want to strive for happiness in my personal and professional life and if I do that, things will fall together the way they are meant to fall together.”

Adjunct instructor of Italian Molly Sweigart teaches a variety of Italian courses from beginning level to advanced. Sweigart had taught at UNT for three years. Feature photo by Zixian Chen / Staff Photographer   

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