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KCC Faculty on Teaching

KCC Faculty on Teaching

Dr. Martin Matthew

How did you get into teaching?
My first teaching experience came after completing high school. I taught at a Roman Catholic elementary school for two years. The following year I received a full scholarship to attend the University of Havana and Camaguey in Cuba, where I did some tutoring. After graduate school, I was offered a position by Touro College to teach several courses in history and political science, and later by the college of New Rochelle, where I taught history and political science for several years before joining the history department at Kingsborough Community College.

What career did you imagine for yourself when you were in college?
At the University of Havana, I studied agronomy but realized it was not an area I wanted as a career. Another thought was being an air traffic controller, but I decided against it and settled for economics. I study Economic Planning at the University of Havana and Camaguey for three years. After graduating with a bachelor's in economics, I went to graduate school to study history and political science. Political science I knew well because I had worked with the government and witnessed firsthand how the government operated. However, my great love for history was a deciding factor.

What do you love about teaching?
I love making a difference in students' lives and inspiring them to make a difference in this universe. At Touro and the College of New Rochelle, students have written letters and made telephone calls explaining how I have contributed to their success. Students at Kingsborough are the most inspiring. I have past students who tell me I have changed their lives. Some students demand that other family members take African American and Caribbean classes. Others have reported how those classes changed their perspective and major; some went on to law schools. Teaching is my passion. It is the field that truly keeps on giving. Many students speak about the knowledge received from African American, Caribbean, and political science classes. This makes teaching a grateful career because I am contributing to the learning and the advancement of humanity.

What's your favorite teaching experience?
I had some students who went to Africa because they took the African American class. After taking the Caribbean class, some went to Europe to see how the Caribbean contributed to building multiple European cities. Another exciting experience was an invitation by Haitian American and other Caribbean American students to speak at their church and conventions.

In what ways do you bring your professional experience into the classroom?
I share my struggles growing up and where I am today and encourage them to do the same or better. I firmly believe that students should focus on making a difference in this universe and people's lives by using their professional skills, rather than concentrating on monetary value. I encourage students to apply historical information to their current conditions to solve complex problems and find the right approach to solve those situations.

What advice do you have for current students?
I want current students to remember that most of the greatest inventions and realizations did not occur immediately. These advances came about through prolonged, extensive, and collaborative efforts after several years of attempts and failure. Most humans are impatient for long-term rewards and concentrate on short-term immediate gratification. Make sure you have a purpose in life, and make that purpose meaningful and part of a whole. Don’t look for immediate gratification and quick solutions, and try not to be impatient. Work and study hard and learn thoroughly and comprehensively. Do not accept mediocre conditions; strive for excellence and be the best you can be. Whatever area you have decided for your career, be the best at it. Also, do not let money be your motivator in life. Focus on what you can do to change the world and make a difference in this universe with your career.