In the GradFUTURES Spotlight series, Princeton graduate students share in their own words about their experiences in one of the GradFUTURES Fellowship programs: the Community College Teaching Fellowship Program, the University Administrative Fellowship Program, or the GradFUTURES Social Impact Fellowship Program.
Where and when did your Fellowship take place?
I was a fellow at Rowan College of South Jersey in Sewell, NJ in 2021.
I am a PhD student in musicology at Princeton, and my dissertation research focuses on how musical exchange between France and West Africa shaped twentieth-century experimental music. Before I came to Princeton, I worked in the music industry, and I received a bachelor’s degree in music and English from Barnard College.
What drew you to the Community College Teaching Fellowship?
I decided to pursue a PhD, in part, because I love teaching. Precepting at Princeton helped to strengthen my dedication for post-secondary education, and I was drawn to this fellowship because I was eager to gain more experience and design my own course. I also know first-hand how vital community colleges are: I took several courses at a local community college in my hometown, and the education I received there helped me succeed in my undergraduate studies at Barnard College.
Can you share a bit about the Fellowship and the kinds of experiences you had while a Fellow?
Rowan College of South Jersey is a 2-year, public institution with a campus in Gloucester County and a campus in Cumberland County. The school enrolls nearly 7,000 full and part-time students. During the first half of the fellowship, I shadowed several courses taught by my mentor, Dr. Natalka Pavlovsky, as Music in Childhood Education and Music Appreciation, and I also attended department and committee meetings. Then, I taught my own section of Music Appreciation (MUS 101) at the Gloucester Campus.
How did these experiences help you?
Shadowing my mentor and teaching a guest lecture in one of her classes helped me to prepare to teach my own course. Attending department meetings during the fellowship also gave me familiarity with how the institution functioned and made me feel like a valued member of the team.
Can you share some reflections on the mentorship component of the Fellowship?
My mentor, Natalka Pavlovsky, was extremely helpful throughout the fellowship. She gave me constructive feedback on my teaching and very generously shared her own teaching resources and expertise. In particular, I appreciated that she gave me independence and let me problem-solve on my own, but always made herself available whenever I had a question or needed help.
Best advice for Graduate Students considering a Fellowship through GradFUTURES?
At a research-focused institution like Princeton, teaching experiences can sometimes be difficult for graduate students to find. This Fellowship is a terrific opportunity for any graduate student who is interesting in developing their teaching. But, more importantly, this fellowship also provides a tangible way for Princeton graduate students to get to know other academic institutions in the region and participate in community colleges’ mission of improving equity and access to quality higher education for everyone across New Jersey.