By Zack Bennett
The paths to teaching are many, and are often vastly different.
Heather Bennett, adjunct lecturer of psychology at Lander University spent years of her professional career counseling local abuse survivors prior to landing a teaching position in the classroom. The transition from counselor to educator was inspired by the encouragement of a friend.
“It’s very important to have great friends and colleagues who push you to be the best,” she said. “I’ve always had a passion for presenting and teaching others within the community and it was a wonderful transition into the world of education.”
Prior to teaching at Lander, Bennett spent over a decade working with local organizations like Beyond Abuse and MEG’s House. She credits her time spent with these initiatives with fleshing out her practical knowledge in the field. “I love the interaction with those in the community, clients and their families,” said Bennett. ”Seeing and interacting with people who are passionate about justice and the healing process continues to be a catalyst to continue educating those that will enter the helping fields.”
She has been able to use her experience in the real world to provide thoughtful and realistic education to students in her psychology courses. “Through many years of interviewing and counseling, I have been given real life experience to support curriculum,” said Bennett. “I am able to emphasize the importance of rapport building and meeting people where they are, to empower people to bring about change in their lives.”
It wasn’t long before Bennett was recognized by the University for her excellence in the classroom. Her passion for education and empowering the community was recognized by the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, when Bennett was named Part-Time Faculty Member of the Year for 2021-22.
“I’m beyond thankful for the support of the students, faculty and staff,” she said. “While the rewards of a career in education are many, I am most proud to see students succeed and achieve in life.”