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Sociology Professor Ivanka Sabolich Motivated by Student Success

Posted May 2, 2011 | Sarah James
Ivanka Sabolich
Ivanka Sabolich

Ivanka Sabolich, assistant professor, was recently honored with the university's Outstanding Teaching Award. The award honors full-time, nontenure track and part-time faculty and is sponsored by the University Teaching Council. This prestigious award is presented annually to three faculty members who consistently showcase outstanding skills in classroom teaching.

Sabolich received her undergraduate degree in sociology and philosophy at the University of Zagred in Croatia and went on to receive her doctorate in sociology at Kent State. She has taught a variety of sociology classes at Kent State since 2004.

"Getting an award after so many years was very rewarding," Sabolich says. "I know many people who are just like me who have done a great job teaching. I appreciate the enthusiasm and commitment that people make."

Sabolich uses her experiences as an immigrant to help students relate to the concepts they discuss in class. Sabolich teaches students to draw connections between what they learn in the classroom and many aspects of their lives.

"I would like them to see that sociology is more than the subject they study, take exams on and never have to deal with afterwards," she says. "I like to show my students that sociology is relevant for their lives."

In all of her years of teaching, Sabolich says she has learned a lot from her students.

"Students bring questions I did not think about in that way. They share their experiences, and I think that's important."

Classroom discussions are important to Sabolich's learning environment, even in large lecture classes. She uses humor to keep the class engaged.

"We manage to learn and we manage to laugh -- we sometimes laugh at ourselves."

Seeing students succeed is most rewarding for Sabolich. Many of her students are now her colleagues.

"People in my classes are now excellent teachers themselves," she says. "To hear from people that they have changed their outlook on education is very rewarding."
Sabolich says it is important to bring the same level of enthusiasm to teaching, whether she is teaching part or full time.

"When I am teaching, I don't want to be anywhere else. I think students can see that. I think they can sense it. If you love teaching, then the money itself is not the most important thing."