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Bright spots: Recalling favorite courses

On November 30, 2020

VN photo by Devonne Mccullough

BY SARA MITRAKOVIC / VN STAFF WRITER

Despite the difficult times for everyone, there is always an opportunity to think positively. 

Along those lines, several Detroit Mercy students shared their favorite classes.  

Pa Amat Sohna is in his fifth year of the architecture program.

Previously, Sohna went to Oakland Community College, where architecture is set up as any other major. There were no special computer labs for architecture students as there are at Detroit Mercy.

“You would go to your class, get through the lecture, then leave,” said Sohna.

Detroit Mercy is different.

“When I first came to UDM, people were already in groups, having friends they would hang out with and spend a lot of time together,” said Sohna. “At UDM you take most of your (architecture) classes with your peers. There is a community in which you build relationships that last beyond the Architecture Building.”

Sohna found his summer classes fun. He connected with his professor and developed a great relationship.

Emmanuel Pillah, another architecture student, recently graduated but was happy to share a positive experience.

“My favorite class at Detroit Mercy was actually in political science and it even made me consider switching my major,” said Pillah.

He said that his professor was understanding of students and their lives and activities outside of school.

“Before the test, the professor would go through the whole content that would be on the exam and make points instead of having us all read the entire textbook,” said Pillah.

According to Pillah, the class was modified to be student-friendly and was truly about students succeeding.

Pillah said that this teaching approach had a positive effect on the whole class. Not only did everyone do well in class, they also learned the actual subject long-term.

“One of the coolest things this professor came up with was giving us extra credit for volunteering to help tutor your classmate,” said Pillah.   

Gerald Blackshear, a Detroit Mercy graduate and former student-athlete, was a communications major.

He said he doesn’t remember a specific class he loved, but he definitely remembers the professors.

“Professors Joe Abisaid and Vivian Dicks were two of my favorites,” said Blackshear.

“I really liked them because they were good people and had good teaching approaches.”

Blackshear said that Abisaid took his classes on field trips to different businesses and firms to see how they operate.

“There was also more group work and presentations rather than just regular lectures, which made the class more relative to real life,” said Blackshear.

He thinks that stimulating students’ minds had them looking forward to class, but it also still helps him today.

“Most things in life you don’t work on alone so you have to be able to work with others when needed,” said Blackshear. “I would say the way that I benefit from that class now is having the ability to work very well in groups.”

Junior Nikita Thomas said her favorite class at was Visual Communication III, taught by professor Kaitlyn Hill.

“The professor was very knowledgeable of the program and helped whenever needed,” said Thomas.

She also said that she excelled in the class and was usually ahead of her classmates, who would often come to her outside of class to ask questions about how to do different things.

“It was a good feeling having people tell me that I should be a TA (teacher’s assistant) because I was good at teaching,” said Thomas.

Another positive experience came from Raya Alshamayleh.

One of her favorite classes was Study of Fiction, taught by John Freeman.

“It was an eye-opening course that made me realize the power of story-telling and the role it plays in almost all professions,” said Alshamayleh.

She remembers the diversity of her class with students from all kinds of majors.

“It was interesting to engage in discussion with people who had different academic backgrounds than me, and to realize that story-telling is an element that we all share within our fields of study,” said Alshamayleh.

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