BY: ALEXA ROBBINS
There are several contributing factors that make USC Upstate a unique campus, but what makes it truly stand out is its dedicated faculty members.
Dr. Michelle Garland has been working at USC Upstate since 2015. In addition to being an Associate Professor of Communications, Dr. Garland also serves as the Director of Interdisciplinary Studies and the Faculty Athletic Representative here on campus.
Before coming to Upstate, Dr. Garland was a professor at the University of Tennessee where she earned her PhD. She also worked in higher education offices such as relations, admissions, and alumni event planning.
“It’s been very helpful to me as a faculty member to have been involved in so many of the different offices on campus because it has helped me better understand the inner workings of the system,” Garland explains.
While originally planning to stay on this path, graduate school is where she discovered her true passion.
“While I was getting my Masters, I was able to teach, and that was when I fell in love with teaching,” Garland recalled.
When asked about her favorite part of the job, she answered without hesitation, “The students. I love to get to know my students, not only in class, but also how their lives are going. That’s what drives me.”
She also credits her teachers during her experience as a student with shaping her into the educator she is today, adding, “Based on my own personal experience, I had some wonderful teachers from undergrad and graduate school who really invested in me. I knew how much that meant to me and how much I appreciated how they were there for me when I was going through some stuff not related to academics. That’s the kind of teacher I want to be, so I really try to model myself after that.”
Despite her many titles and accomplishments, Dr. Garland also acknowledges the ways in which other faculty members at USC Upstate continue to inspire her every day. "I’m inspired constantly by our faculty,” Garland says.
One person that came to mind for her was Dr. Emily Kofoed. Garland says, “She inspires me because when I have conversations with students, her name comes up all the time about how much she’s loved, and I think that’s so important to have that relationship that’s not only what you’re teaching, but also about that human experience.
"We have so many faculty on this campus that do so many amazing things with the community. I could go on and on. Another great example is Dr. Bareiss when he did his health communication work with Spanish and Sign Language where they reversed roles to where the patient wasn’t able to speak the language of the caregiver and so looking at the dynamic of how that impacts the healthcare experience is so inspiring.”
USC Upstate is incredibly lucky to have such creative, inspiring, and caring faculty members. Dr. Garland, along with the rest of the outstanding faculty, contributes so much to Upstate and continues to instill the love of learning in students each day.