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Tristanne Connolly
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Teaching and Learning
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Dr. Veronica Austen “really likes language.” Her passion sets her apart. She feels that engaging her students in literature helps them to see how words make up the world.
 
“You’re trying to figure out the puzzle. Literature doesn’t provide one answer, so it’s not like you’re trying to find the one meaning. What I like is that there are so many meanings,” she says.
 “I tell my students, ‘you get to go play with it for a while’. Every word matters, every punctuation mark matters, every space matters. Language constructs the world.”
 
The passion Austen has for language is unmistakable; words are power, words open up and define the world. She shares that with her students from the moment they begin their educational journeys, hoping that she can share her knowledge-seeking spirit.
 
“I do as much as I can to give them as much as I have,” she says. “But, I let them bring what they can to the classroom as well.” It is through this interactivity that any assumed gap between professor and student can be eliminated.
 
“It makes us come together across the divide; generational divide, knowledge divide.” Give and take is important to her; she seeks for herself and encourages in others a balance between sharing what you know and learning more by listening.
 
Austen encourages students to become active learners, who realize that literature is one of the best ways for students to see themselves in someone else’s position, which is key for those entering the world outside of campus walls. “I hope they take away a better ability to negotiate the world.”
 
Dr. Veronica Austen started teaching full-time at St. Jerome’s University in 2010, but her relationship with SJU is much older than that. She, having completed some of her graduate work here, cites St. Jerome’s University courses and professors as key inspirations in her path towards becoming a professor.
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