When students walk in to Paulina Cardaciâ€™s anatomy and physiology class at County College of Morris (CCM), they may be met with a quick joke or caring smile. But most of all, Cardaci hopes they walk out with critical thinking skills and a practical
understanding of biology.
Cardaci earned a bachelorâ€™s degree in animal science from Rutgers University with the intention to become a veterinarian. Although accepted to study at the University of Glasgow for her masterâ€™s, a family emergency drew her to search for a local graduate program.
â€śMy father had a heart attack just before I was to leave for the program,â€ť recalls Cardaci. â€śThis became a catalyst for my future as a professor.â€ť
Although being an educator had not been her initial plan, Cardaci became a well-
respected teacher assistant while pursuing her masterâ€™s degree at Seton Hall University. She was a finalist for the 2014 Teacher Assistant of the Year award. â€śI just fell in love with teaching,â€ť she recalls.
Cardaci admits that when she first started she was unsure of herself as an educator, but that quickly changed. â€śThe first time I stood in front of a group of students, I was terrified,â€ť she says. â€śBut it built my confidence when I looked around the room and saw students taking notes and following along.â€ť
Cardaci enjoys filling her classroom with both laughter and knowledge. â€śI love cracking jokes and embracing my full personality when I am teaching,â€ť she says. â€śI believe itâ€™s important to bring energy into the classroom to get my students engaged.â€ť
Many of her students hope to pursue careers in the medical field and are highly
committed to doing well. â€śThey walk into the classroom knowing where they want to go,â€ť says Cardaci.
Because of this, she strives to make her courses clinically relevant. â€śMy students need to know what to expect when they walk into a hospital or clinic,â€ť she adds. â€śThey need to know how our body should work, and when it doesnâ€™t what they can expect to see.â€ť