A Teacher Menter Changed Her Life

As a teenage girl growing up in America, Erin Smith’s aims in life differ from her aims when she got older. She thought working with animals, either at a zoo or veterinary, would be a cool job. Smith was thinking more about the things that she liked to play with rather than a lifelong career.

Now Dr. Erin Smith realized her dreams and obtained the job she wants as Instructor Professor, College of Mathematics and Statistics at Zayed University.

From a playful teenage to a responsible women Professor Erin went to high school, and the idea of what kind of job she wanted to have in the future began to develop itself further. In her second and third years of high school she took marketing and accounting classes. Both, of which, she greatly enjoyed due to the teacher. Professor Erin was particularly “adept at accounting,” since she was “adept in math.” As part of her accounting class, she and her peers opened a local bank branch in her school. Out of that, she and another student received jobs at the local branch. “We felt very fortunate to be bank tellers at 15,” she said.  It was from that class and its teacher that she decided to pursue a degree in accounting in college.

When she went to college to study accounting, she had an eye-opening experience. In some of her first classes, Calculus for Business and Accounting, she was bored and did not like them. She could recall sitting in her accounting class and thinking to herself, “there is no way I can do this for the rest of my life.” It was after that class that she walked straight to the registrar to change her major and schedule. She decided then that a math degree was the right path for her. After making that decision and completing a semester at the university, she had to withdraw for personal reasons. She did not return to college for another one and a half years.

As she returned “a different one”, she had an advisor assigned to her who was also her Calculus teacher. They developed a strong relationship and she is now and has been her mentor since that first class. “She is one of the main reasons that I chose to be a teacher at the college level,” she said. “She has given me so much over the years that I can only hope to do for students what she has done for me.”

During her last year at college, she worked as a teacher assistant for a general education class. It was in this role, as a recitation teacher, that her love of teaching truly began to “blossom.” Up until that time, she had been uncertain whether teaching was the field for her. By working with the professor and leading the recitation classes, she knew that she wanted to teach, particularly at the college level. “Since then, I have been working to pursue that career,” Smith added.

Professor Erin Smith cannot imagine a career that would bring her more inner joy than teaching. She has always wanted to feel that she was contributing to society and improving the way of life. “Through teaching, I feel I can do both of these things,” she said.

Zayed University Student Ambassador, Sara Abdullah Al Muhairi explained that many people associate the word “disciplined classroom” as a class where students are sitting quietly, listening, and taking notes. Although discipline is a necessary component of any classroom, this is not how Professor Erin Smith implements discipline in her classroom. In her classroom, she puts discipline into practice by creating an environment where we are respectful to ourselves and each other, exercise self-control and responsibility, paying attention, and actively participating in class.

Another student at Zayed University, Maha Khalid, mentioned that a key component in any classroom is the development of rapport with students. By finding a balance of friendliness, students feel comfortable and are more likely to share their ideas and their opinions. “This is exactly what is happening with Dr. Smith, she understands us and behaves like a friend with us,” Maha said.