Discovering the hobbies of our professors

It is pretty jarring to see one’s professor somewhere other than in front of a blackboard. In fact the first time they are seen in the supermarket in a track suit choosing between the whole grain cereal or Captain Crunch, perceptions change almost instantaneously. These are real people.Eastern University has never been a place that is short on characters. When that is said, however, it almost always excludes professors-surprising when they can be considered as some of the most interesting people here. So what interests them?

Professor Rebecca Gidjunis’ llama collection is the stuff folklore is made of. Venture to her office in the English department and find her bookshelf covered with llama figurines, pictures and mementos. “I first fell in love with them during a trip my husband and I took to a llama and alpaca farm,” professor Gidjunis tells her College Writing Class. “So, don’t be surprised if some of them join us during the semester.” True to her word, Llamar Llama and Paco Alpaca make frequent guest appearances throughout the semester giving grammar lessons to students.

Just around the corner from Professor Gidjunis’s indoor llama farm is the office of Professor Colleen Willenbring. New to Eastern University, Professor Willenbring seems to be making acquaintances quickly. This has partly to do with her easy-going nature, and partly to do with an interesting activity she enjoys. “I love talking to strangers,” she says. Immediately all of the “stranger danger” public service announcements come to mind, but Professor Willenbring assures that it is not as scandalous as it sounds. “I am just really fascinated with what people have to say. I am interested by the various stories people decide to tell me, the little bits of their lives that they share.” She encourages students to stop by her office and have a word.

Another fascinating hobby at Eastern comes compliment of Professor Tyler Flynn who brews his own award-winning beer. A history professor with an interest in the history of brewing, Professor Flynn has gone a step further and has taken to actually creating it and entering it into competitions. Just this year, his brew has been selected as a finalist in The Philadelphia Homebrew Competition that had nearly 140 entries. “I am glad to have that honor,” says Professor Flynn, “but I am really interested in the process and concentration of making a quality brew.” If ever curious about his craft, just ask. After all, history has a lot to do with what we have ingested.

These characters and more are what make up the landscape that is Eastern University. The next time a student sees their professor in the front of the room, they might want to consider the person behind the PowerPoints.

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