College is truly a transformational time, with so many educational experiences to shape your future. Playing a powerful role in that process are the professors and other teaching staff that share a blend of curriculum-based knowledge and personal experience with their students. Everyone leaves college having one or two professors that left a profound impact on them, and Jeanne and Cooper share who it was for them.

Jeanne's Story

Looking back, I had so many fantastic teachers, professors, and guidance counselors during my time at Winona State. It was quite the struggle to narrow it down to a single person. One person who sticks out more than any others was an instructor who worked in the Drama Department, and since I had a Sociology Minor, I had the option of taking a variety of classes.

The class I chose was called Creative Dramatics for Children. I thought to myself, this ought to be interesting and could be helpful if my future career involved working with kids. The first day of class, I knew I would love it. Ms. Fusillo came bounding into the room wearing a huge wooden necklace in the shape of different animals It actually looked like animal crackers. She had wild red hair in a bouffant style and wild vibrant dress that was every color of the rainbow.

She was very dramatic in how she spoke and she was wildly animated. I knew this was going to be fun. She made every project we did exciting, and at times incorporated with a lot of laughter, which was allowed. We did art projects, plays, created sets, and most importantly reached deep down encouraging us to explore our inner child.

This type of class was so important for so many reasons in that it helped with the stress from some of my more intense classes, helped me bond with my classmates, and also took me out of my comfort zone.  These things are so important when you are at a young age, being on your own off at college and exploring a whole new world.

Ms. Fusillo’s lessons continue to help me now to take chances, be silly and don’t ever be afraid to be yourself. She retired in 2014, and was honored by the university by having a theater on campus named after her. Anyone who was lucky enough to be part of her class will agree she made it very memorable.

Cooper's Story

One of the many great things I have to say about the mass communications program at Bemidji State University is that the faculty are all fantastic. They all use very different teaching methods, and the combined team effort they all put into teaching the courses of the program makes it something truly robust and valuable.

I have fond memories of photography and design classes with Valica Boudry, discussing marketing and media theory with Carl Sewall, and getting creative in media production classes and working on shaping my college path with my advisor Virgil Bakken. In the end, I'd have to say the faculty member that had the biggest influence on my college years and moving into my career was Roger Paskvan.

I had the opportunity to get to know Roger quite well through the various TV and radio courses he taught, along with working with him as the advisor of the student-run campus TV and radio stations. While I enjoyed most of his classes, the one that stands out most was a broadcast engineering class he only offered every other year. The reason I think I enjoyed this class so much is partially because of the course material, but moreso because of how it was presented.

Roger is a telecommunications engineer by trade. On top of teaching at BSU, he owns a group of radio stations and a two-way communications business that offers service to commercial and emergency services organizations that utilize radio communications. Because this subject is right in the heart of what he loves to do, there was a true sense that he was especially excited about teaching the material.

I can honestly say that even though I had to name one faculty member as the person that played the biggest role in my college career, they all had a powerful impact that I truly appreciate. Along with that, because of the smaller size of Bemidji State, I was able to get to know each of them on a deeper level than just the kid that sat in a certain seat in class. On subsequent visits back to BSU after graduation, each of them has recognized me as though I just left campus yesterday. It's hard to put a value on knowing that several years after graduation, the students they taught weren't just names on a class list.

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