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April 2017

 

Society is the best classroom: Misty Curreli
William Burns

 

Dr. Misty Curreli and her partner Shawn Gaffey
On March 30, Dr. Misty Curreli received the Town of Brookhaven Division of Women's Services Award for Community Service. Curreli has served as a volunteer rape crisis counselor for the Victims Information Bureau of Suffolk for 11 years. She poses with her award alongside her partner Shawn Gaffney. (photo by Cynthia Eaton)

Actor and activist Edward Albert once noted that “the simple act of caring is heroic.”

Practicing her own kind of heroism, Misty Curreli has accomplished the nearly impossible feat of integrating caring and compassion into all of her work at SCCC. Misty is an assistant professor of sociology on the Eastern Campus. She began teaching at SCCC in fall 2013 after defending her doctoral dissertation at Stony Brook University. Misty also is the TLC coordinator at the Eastern Campus, bringing professional development and intellectual discussions to her campus community.

Before coming to Suffolk, Misty taught part time at several colleges and universities in Pennsylvania (Lehigh University, Northampton County Community College, Muhlenberg College and Moravian College) and New York (Stony Brook University and The College at Old Westbury) while pursuing her graduate work.
 
Misty’s favorite part of working at SCCC is the interactions she has with her colleagues who she sees as hardworking, talented people who care about teaching and the larger social issues that affect higher education. Working with them inspires Misty to integrate both local and public concerns into her pedagogy. Misty’s goal is to promote the newly acquired sociology major at Eastern and recruit more sociology majors to the program. She also wants to continue working with her colleagues to provide presentations through the TLC that are valuable and meaningful.

Because many students do not know what sociology is when they walk into her classroom on the first day, Misty finds this challenge exciting and she feels a certain honor in introducing them to the sociological perspective and its benefits. Beyond teaching sociology, Misty feels that it is important to help students cultivate other practical skills such as finding credible sources, understanding how research is conducted and writing critically.

In connection with these objectives, one of the things Misty cherishes the most about her job is the connection to students. She has had a few students approach her for further opportunities to conduct research, and they have collaboratively designed their own studies. For Misty, it’s extremely rewarding to see her students develop into independent researchers and active participants in their own learning.

Beyond the classroom, Misty is the advisor of two student clubs: Stand Up Speak Out and the Gender Sexuality Alliance. At the heart of these organizations is the concern of bringing awareness to social issues that affect students’ lives, thereby extending learning opportunities outside of the classroom. Though the topics may be complex, Misty enjoys problem solving with them and fostering their growth as professionals. These students are exceptionally creative and willing to give of themselves for the betterment of their campus community and larger, regional community.

Because sociology is the study of society and human interaction, Misty feels that there is never really an end of phenomena to be studied. Sociology is everywhere and there is an ever-growing supply of topics and examples to bring into the classroom.

In another direction, due to the research that she’s been exposed to on social problems that plague our world, Misty volunteers in the community to help with education, prevention of these issues or alleviation of the suffering caused by them. For the past 11 years, Misty has been a rape crisis counselor with Victims Information Bureau of Suffolk (VIBS) Family Violence and Rape Crisis Center and was honored by the Town of Brookhaven with a 2017 Women’s Recognition Award for outstanding service to the community as a volunteer.

Misty sees a connection between the caring and social activism inherent in community colleges with the efforts of the FA. For Misty, the FA is an endless source of support and opportunity. She feels relieved to know that there are dedicated, competent people advocating on her behalf and she is interested in learning more about the nascent social justice team currently being formed in the FA.

Looking to the future, Misty is focused on designing new classes like the one she taught last semester called The Sociology of Sexuality and Human Reproduction. She might like to teach a course on Disabilities Studies and dreams of teaching a course entitled The Sociology of Harry Potter.

Misty wants to continue to deepen her knowledge of sociology and integrate timely examples into the courses she regularly teaches including Introduction to Sociology, Modern Social Problems, Sociology of Health & Illness and Sociology of Family.

Misty Curreli is the embodiment of the kind of educator that our society sorely needs right now: practical activism balanced with compassionate intellectualism. And she is, no doubt, a hero to our students.