Laura S. Wheat joined the University of Tennessee and the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling as Clinical Assistant Professor, Coordinator for Grief Outreach Initiative, and Graduate Certificate Coordinator for Grief, Loss, and Trauma in August of 2014. We asked her to reflect on her first semester here. Read her responses below.
What sold you on UTK?
Believe it or not, I was born sold on UTK! My paternal relatives have lived in East Tennessee for generations and my father made sure the first song I learned was Rocky Top. I feel proud to be the first person in my family to give back as a faculty member!
What would you tell the next new faculty member who joins EPC?
I would remind them to take it slow. Regardless of whether they have been faculty somewhere else before, transitions and learning new systems and new groups of people take time and energy. It’s easy to forget that in the fast paced life we live, but in order to adjust well, we must give ourselves grace and attend to our needs so we can function at peak performance.
What has been your most memorable experience this semester?
The most professionally memorable experience so far has been witnessing the Grief Outreach Initiative mentors’ reflections on their experiences in the program. The GOI is truly special and changes not just the mentees, but the lives of the mentors as well, in ways they never imagined going in. I’m so proud of them all! And the most personally memorable experience so far was finally moving to a place that was already home and where I have family. Sitting in my empty apartment on day one after a pretty tough drive in from Georgia, it was beyond comforting for my cousins to take me out to eat and lend me an air mattress, a chair, and a table for some creature comforts. I’m so glad to be around them!
Name one fact about yourself that most people don’t know.
I was born in Berlin and much of my pre-adult life was shaped by living in Germany twice. For instance, I was living in northern Germany when the Berlin Wall came down and got to visit the remnants one month later!