Merilee McCurdy joined the University of Tennessee and the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling as Associate Professor and Program Coordinator for School Psychology in August of 2014. We asked her to reflect on her first semester here. Read her responses below.
What sold you on UTK?
I am originally from Mississippi and wanted to get back to the warm South. Fourteen years of Nebraska winters were getting to me! Once I made the decision to move closer to home, it was easy to decide on Tennessee. The School Psychology program is very strong and my colleagues are well respected in the field. In addition to a warmer climate and supportive colleagues, I am much closer to my parents in Mississippi and my brother and sister in law in North Carolina. The University of Tennessee has been a perfect fit for me, both professionally and personally.
What would you tell the next new faculty member who joins EPC?
I was hired along with 4 other fantastic ladies and it has been nice to learn about UT together. I would tell a new faculty member to take advantage of the networking opportunities provided by the university. UT administration has hosted a Faculty Mic Nite, a Faculty Pub happy hour, and many other on campus professional meetings. Use these opportunities to meet faculty within your department and college but also across the University. Who knows? You might meet your next research colleague!
What has surprised you about the state of Tennessee?
I’m not used to having beautiful mountain views. Seriously, East Tennessee is gorgeous! I never had the chance to spend much time in Tennessee and when I interviewed, it was winter. Like most places, winter is not the best time to get a sense of a new place. This summer when I moved to Knoxville, the city was vibrant with lots of downtown activity. The outdoor activities, especially hiking, are numerous and varied. I wasn’t aware that Knoxville has so many festivals! Here’s a link to prove it: http://www.cityofknoxville.org/newcomers/festivals.asp. There is always something new and fun to experience in Knoxville.
What’s your favorite activity outside of work?
I’m an avid reader and always have at least two books going at the same time. If you want to start a book club, just let me know! Right now, I’m reading Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, which was loaned to me by a new colleague. I’m just getting started but it’s really good! Also, I love being near water. If I’m not near the beach, the lakes will do just fine. The Knoxville area has many beautiful lakes. I can’t wait to visit them all.