Q&A: 2021-22 PhD Plus Intern Janet Lawler

By Kristin Sloane

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Currently pursuing her PhD in Politics, Janet Lawler joined the CTE as our 2021-22 PhD Plus Intern. Over the course of the year, she will be supporting our graduate student opportunities under the mentorship of Assistant Director Adriana Streifer. Specifically, Janet is developing and facilitating a workshop on addressing classroom conflict and teaching controversial topics as well as conducting teaching consultations with graduate students, among other projects.

Adriana shares her excitement for working with Janet: "The peer mentoring and leadership that Janet provides is hugely beneficial to the CTE and to graduate students at UVA. Her work will allow the CTE to support the teaching needs of greater numbers of graduate students than we typically can reach in a single academic year.

"I also hope that the internship is a valuable experience for Janet as she explores careers in educational development and other corners of academia. Mentoring graduate students is one of my favorite aspects of working at the CTE; I am very happy to have Janet on our team and look forward to seeing everything she accomplishes this year!"

Janet tells us why she decided to apply for the internship and what she hopes to get out of the experience.

Q: Why did you apply to the CTE’s PhD Plus Intern position?

A: As soon as I saw that PhD Plus offered an internship with the CTE, I knew I had to apply. When I first came to UVA, a lot of the support I received transitioning into graduate school and moving from a student role into a teaching role was either from the CTE directly or from fellow graduate students who were involved in the CTE.

So, the very first reason why I applied was because I wanted to be part of such a supportive community of higher education scholars, students, and instructors. It became very clear that working and learning in the CTE would give me the experience I needed to pursue the career in higher education that I really wanted.

Q: What CTE programs or events have you participated in?

A: I had participated in TAGS, previously, and it was a formative experience early on in graduate school. The perspective and tools TAGS gave me were invaluable as I began teaching and helped me develop a real desire to work and teach in higher education. I remembered clearly thinking, "I would love to be one of the facilitators for this someday." Being a facilitator for TAGS this year as part of my internship was the start of doing a lot of exciting, meaningful work for me!

Q: What do you hope to gain from the internship?

A: I’ve already gained some amazing colleagues, and I’m excited to gain an entire community of higher education development scholars and practitioners. I’ll be learning a lot from everyone in the CTE about how to support faculty and graduate student instructors from a more institutional perspective. So, I hope to gain a lot of substantive knowledge in the field, but also, I think this is a perfect chance for me to understand the inner workings of what kinds of teaching support universities need and gain the experience and skills to do that work in the future. Hopefully this will be the first of many years of experience working in a university teaching and learning center!

Q: How do you hope this experience prepares you for your future?

A: After UVA, I plan to stay in higher education. ... I have always dreamed of teaching political thought in a college or university. One of the wonderful parts about being at UVA is really seeing the opportunities for teaching while also working and researching in a particular center, and a center for teaching is exactly where I see myself. I’m so grateful to be a part of the CTE, because I’m already getting experience researching and developing my own workshops, which I can take with me in the future, conducting teaching consultations, and facilitating programming, but also getting a peek into the larger projects. I hope to continue doing all of this in the future, while continuing to teach the courses I really care about.

Additionally, Janet will be joining CTE faculty at the 46th Annual POD Network Conference, which will be held virtually November 8-17. POD is a professional organization for educational developers. She was awarded POD's Graduate Student, Professional Student, and Postdoctoral Scholar Development (GPPD) Career Development Award, which covers the cost of the conference registration fee and a year-long POD Network membership. This will be another opportunity for her to gain even more experience in the field. Congratulations, Janet!