—By John Rieg
Challenging times pervade the world amidst complications surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic. Students and teachers alike have been forced to make a multitude of adjustments to facilitate classes, but higher education forges on, nonetheless. Today I was given the opportunity to chat with Dr. Brozyna, a professor here at Passaic County Community College and head of the Honors Program, to learn about the program and how operations have changed in a pandemic-ridden world.
Dr. Brozyna studied history and political science at Rutgers-Newark before earning her PhD at the University of Southern California. Upon completion of her education, Brozyna began her career as a professor, with a profound love of teaching. She has now been teaching for over 20 years and has been with PCCC since 2009.
So, what is Honors Program? At PCCC the honors program is one that under the direction of Dr. Brozyna fosters ambitious students who are “serious” about their work, as she puts it. “We take students like that and put them in classes with other like-minded students. In a sense they kind of feed off each other through their goals and ambitions…they feed off each other in a positive way,” the doctor explained.
The program offers honors courses in a variety of subjects such as science, history, and math. The classes tend to be “a little more academically accelerated,” Dr. Broyza explained. “There’s a lot of discussions!”
It is clear how passionate the doctor is about the program. “I want what’s best for them,” Brozyna stated. Dr. Brozyna reaps the rewards of her job whenever she sees student of hers continue on a trajectory of success, forged during their time at the honors program. She recalls four valedictorians from the 2020 graduating class were part of the honors program. The doctor then exclaimed, “and three of them went to Rutgers-Newark with a full ride!”
Operations of course, have changed since the pandemic struck New Jersey. “The transition hasn’t been terrible,” she says. The biggest challenge the doctor has faced is keeping students motivated. Dr. Brozyna responds by trying to keep things upbeat and fresh in class, often cracking jokes and making quirky environmental observations about the students and their surroundings. “sometimes their cats will pass by…” she laughs, “there is something really humanizing about doing the “remote thing,” even if it’s not ideal…there’s something positive that comes out of this.”
In a post pandemic world, Dr. Brozyna thinks things like classes and meetings should still have the option to be held remotely. She brings up an interesting point that remote learning fosters a more diverse class because people aren’t taking classes at specific campuses based on their location. Therefore, students from Paterson, Wanaque, and Passaic who may have never interacted with each other, are finding themselves in the same classes. “I wouldn’t be surprised if going forward there continued to be a remote option,” she says enthusiastically.
Although it has been challenging, it is clear that Dr. Brozyna’s passion has fueled her desire to continue her work. When asked what her favorite part of the job is, Dr. Brozyna explains, “It’s always the students. Students are wonderful!”
If you have a 3.5 GPA or higher and have an interest in becoming apart of the honors program, contact Dr. Brozyna at:firstname.lastname@example.org