Teacher Appreciation Week – ERAU Style!

When Professor Joanne DeTore observed Teacher Appreciation Week by posting on her wall asking former students to share their current situation, the results were rather amazing, even for Embry-Riddle!

Professor DeTore teaches communication and humanities courses, not always the most popular at a school where the primary focus is rooted in aviation and STEM. The variety of careers, the fond memories and evidence that soft skills are still critical for success in the business world makes for an interesting and inspiring read:

Dr. Detore teaches a literature class featuring monsters and villains.

Among the replies:

GINA: Safety Manager for Allegheny County, PA. Married, 2 little boys (Patrick 15 months and Emmett 1.5 months). I had several classes with you. I liked all of them. I remember speech class the most and doing my “how to” speech on making one of my favorite desserts…strawberry pretzel salad. You were one of my favorite professors at Riddle and I thank you for that.

JEN: Chief engineer at Pratt and Whitney– went on to get MS in engineering and MBA. I had two classes with you, one of them was speech –  I hated public speaking but now I do it all the time! I remember I was so sick the semester I was in that class, with what I would later find out was mono, and I remember you being the one who noticed and told me to get checked out! You were a wonderful professor! I’m glad we stay in touch!

NAILYN: I’m an air traffic controller at Gulfport, MS and truly your class was what got me through the difficulties I faced in my classes for the career I’m in. They helped center me and taught me how to filter frustrations and stress through poetry and just speaking, so thank you for that!

KELLY: I’m the Director of Emergency Management at the University of Houston. I got my masters after leaving ERAU. Been married for 9 years and have a 1 year old son. I remember your speech class so vividly! I did a eulogy for Wiley Coyote and a monologue from Erin Brockovich. Public speaking has always been stressful for me, but your class helped me so much. You also helped me get a job at the campus Writing Center which has served me well. Thank you for all you do!

MIRAKEL: Masters in community social psychology and about to get my masters in social work. Currently in Houston as a client advocate for domestic violence/sexual assault, but have also done crisis intervention and hospital accompaniment. I had a few classes with you, but cross-cultural communication and media relations are probably the ones that stick out to me. I am considered one of the most culturally-sensitive workers in my agency and your class helped set that foundation.

MEGAN: I’m living in Fort Worth TX and working as a kindergarten teacher (going on 3 years). I’m married and have 2 kids (a boy and girl).

JASON: Captain for a regional airline right now working on getting to the mainline. I am one of those Captains that when I make my “welcome aboard” announcement I stand in the front so the passengers can see me. Your class made me a better public speaker and taught me how to effectively communicate to my passengers. I have been told many times by passengers that they enjoy seeing the Captain up front when they make announcements.

GWENDOLYN: Florida Department of Transportation, I’m in the civil engineering field, about to get married and planning to take the first engineering test towards my professional engineering license. I remember it like it was yesterday! And my pirates of the Caribbean thing as well. But the Monster class was my favorite of all!

NADIA: I took a humanities class with you and did one of my projects on Twilight! I got my bachelors in Aerospace Engineering at ERAU and currently finishing up my masters in Aerospace Engineering in the fall at Purdue University! Your class was one of my favorites. Thank you pushing me to think creatively/differently than what I was used to. I hope all is well with you.

CAMILLE: You were my favorite professor! I am a regional health, safety and environmental manager with DHL Supply Chain. I am married with one little boy, Sam. We live in and love Atlanta, Georgia! I remember your Monsters class well and the speech class with Jen! I did my demonstrative speech on how to make ravioli. I remember doing a Eulogy for my grandpa and not understanding that it was weird because he was and still is very much alive! You helped me get a job at ERLI with Cindy which was probably my favorite job I’ve ever had. As part of my career, I speak at conferences frequently and last year, spoke for an hour on Presentation Skills to a room of 400. I credit a lot of that to you! Thanks for being so awesome!

LAUREN: I remember having you for speech class. You made such a wonderful impression on me! Your enthusiasm and passion were exemplified during class and you made speech so much fun. It was one of my favorite classes. You’re a very easygoing woman and I enjoy talking to you. I can’t thank you enough for being there during a difficult time in my life. As of right now, I am working on my Master’s in Human Factors & Systems Engineering. I’m a Usability and Design student assistant at Riddle and I’m currently looking for a full time position in my career field. Hope we can meet up for coffee, soon! Thanks for being so awesome!

Tony: Professional Ballroom and Latin dancer, and owner of my own dance studio. Your class of public speaking was one of the first classes where I was exposed to performing in front of a large audience while being critiqued…now that’s pretty much what I do for a living. I loved my public speaking class, and really appreciated the tough love at times when needed. Thanks again!

Andreia: Living in Jersey City, NJ. Working for United as a flight attendant ever since graduation. Your class taught me so much about public relations, especially how my company ends up in the media so much. No kids, not married, but I bought a car this year and I’m officially a resident of Hudson County, New Jersey.

Morgan: I’m currently working as a Flight Coordinator for Davinci Jets out of Charlotte, North Carolina. We provide turnkey aircraft management and private charter service. I interact directly with clients and am very thankful for the communications skills I developed in my studies. In addition, I am working on marketing and public relations related tasks, including creation of press releases and photography for various media platforms. Prior to moving back here to Charlotte to be close to family, I was working on my B.S. in Communication, the Head Writing Tutor, and the Marketing Communications Manager for Epic Flight Academy. Though I was only in one of your courses, I truly value the skills I learned and apply them on a daily basis. Thank you!!!

Christopher: I’m a project manager in Marketing at Delta Air Lines in Atlanta. My wife and I are expecting our first child in June! You were one of my favorite professors at ERAU! I enjoyed taking Speech and Cross Cultural Communications from you. I enjoyed learning about the Maori, and it was neat visiting New Zealand after learning about their culture in your class. I also learned more about Asian customs in your class. When I went to Hong Kong back in 2009, somebody handed me their card with both hands just like you said they would! I knew to accept their card with both hands, look it and not put it in my pocket right away. I might have offended that man through ignorance without the guidance I received in your class.
I hope you are doing well! It’s great being able to keep up with you on FB!

Kirsten: I am a business operations specialist at GE Aviation in Cincinnati, OH. I am married with a 15 month-old named Auggie. I have a B.S. & M.S. in Human Factors. I took your speech class in my undergrad curriculum, it has helped so much when I have to speak in front of hundreds of people and executives for work. Thank you so much for being such an encouraging and inspirational mentor!

Paul: I wrote in a journal entry how much I disliked studying engineering, and you suggested I try literature, so I did. Graduated with a BA in literature while working as a firefighter/paramedic, and while I’ve never relied on the degree professionally, every day in the medical field (I’m a nurse now) I’m confronted with the mistaking of training for education. I’m so grateful for the push towards some of the latter.

DESIREE (pictured here): I’m currently the Safety Management Policy and Training Manager for the Air Traffic Organization in the FAA. I started as an en route controller at Memphis Center, became a support specialist in the training dept., then came to HQ as a Safety Inspector, then moved on to work in my current position managing/writing the policy and training surrounding the ATO’s Safety Management System. Somewhere during all that, I obtained my masters from ERAU worldwide.

Now on to you! I hated writing about myself but I did it to set up this next part. You have impacted my life and career more than you know. In school ATC was exciting, challenging and consuming all my thoughts. Your classes were not only enjoyable, but gave me an outlet outside of ATC. I always loved to read, but you introduced me to new perspectives and material. I still recall some of your feedback on my papers when writing. Without your speech class, I would not be where I am today. Every class I teach and every presentation given, I hear the pointers you would give in class. I have great respect for you and your craft. You are an inspiration to working moms everywhere and you are rocking it! I thank you for your support and guidance when I needed it most. Thank you! I know this post is very long but I could honestly write for days about what a wonderful professor you are.

Professor DeTore responds: “I am so humbled by your beautiful response! Thank you so much for that. I feel like I won an Oscar after reading that. When you teach, you hope you make an impact, but you sometimes never know. You have accomplished so much in your career and you have a beautiful family! You are doing a wonderful job balancing career and motherhood. I am so proud of you and so grateful to you for taking time to let me know how you are doing and for those lovely words about my teaching.”

Awww, that hits right in the feels. Professors can impact our lives in ways we can hardly imagine, whether it’s offering personal support and understanding during a time of struggle, engaging students in areas of study they are not drawn to in order to broaden a skill set or guiding students to internship and career opportunities in their field, their value cannot be overstated.