Full Course Title: 
Course Number: 
Section Number(s) and Day/Times Taught: 
101: MWF 9:00-9:50 am
Section Number(s) and Day/Times Taught: 
102: MWF 10:00-10:50 am
Fall 2016
Civic Engagement

This course, for first-generation college students in the Student Support Services program, will provide a multi-disciplinary, cross-cultural examination of firsts. As students at a NC university, we live in a state where “first in flight” graces our license plates, where eighteen year-old students first sat down at a Greensboro lunch counter and changed history and where harriet Jacobs escaped from a lascivious slave master in Edenton, and became one of the first to craft a powerful slave narrative detailing her experiences. Nationally, as Americans, we were the first to put a man on the moon, yet we are among the last western industrialized countries to have a female president. What is it in our national consciousness that determines who we put first? Internationally, when civil was broke out in Rwanda, Paul Rusesabagina stood against the slaughter and rescued hundreds in his hotel. He claims to be simply “an ordinary man”, but what makes an ordinary man be the first to do such an extraordinary thing? Finally, Malcom Gladwell’s Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking utilizes examples from science, medicine, and popular music to explore the origins of our first impressions. What do psychological studies tell us about people who go first? Are they singular heroes, foolish risk-takers, or some of both? Who goes first and why is a fascinating concept that can be explored from a multi-disciplinary lens and there is no better group to delve into these ideas than students who themselves are the first in their families to attend. This course carries a GLO attribution.

NOTE:  Enrollment in these sections is restricted to Student Support Services students only.


To me, a good teacher is passionate about her job, believes she and her students can change the world, learns from her students as they learn from her, and models the joy she finds in learning.  

I heard a Broadway producer once say on the radio that the word he would use to describe his job would be “nebula” – that place in the universe where the conditions align to create stars.  I like that description as it applies to teaching college freshmen, particularly as it applies to my first-generation college students in the Student Support Services Program.  I believe my job is to create that classroom environment where students can flourish, can become stars. 

I am also a strong proponent of the notion that learning can be fun.  My goal is to engage the students so that they are in an environment in which they want to learn.  I’ve often believed that teaching is like being a parent trying to get your child to the dinner table.  You can drag them kicking and screaming [“you must eat three peas or no video games tonight!”], or you can attempt to create a feast, so that they will approach the table of their own accord – they can’t help but want to sample what’s there.  Well, as my son will attest, I am a terrible cook, but I do try to create that academic feast in my classroom.  Of course, there are days we fall short and class misfires or is deadly dull, or the students are thinking about fall break and the only “feast” on their minds is mom’s home cooking, but for the most part I believe we succeed, together. 

One way I attempt to create that feast is through hands-on learning.  We, in the Student Support Services Program, have sponsored film nights with home cooked lasagna, trips to the Civil Rights Museum in Greensboro, and dinner at Makoto’s Japanese Restaurant (in relation to the haiku poetry we’ve been writing in class). 

Being a teacher is both a treasure and an awesome responsibility.  Every day my goal is to try to live up to that responsibility and to be worthy of the gift I have been given to touch the lives of my students.

Contact FYS

The First Year Seminar is part of the General Education Program located in Anne Belk Hall, Room 250.

Phone: 828-262-2028

Our mailing address:
First Year Seminar
ASU Box 32065
Appalachian State University
Boone, NC 28608

Director of First Year Seminar:
Dr. Martha McCaughey

QEP Global Learning