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University of Virginia UVA Arts & Sciences Default

We Asked, You Responded: Your Favorite College Class

Oct 07, 2014

In August we asked our College Alumni to tell us about their favorite College course. Here's what they had to say:

Wes Steen:

It was September, 1964, but no, my favorite first year course was not "The Wheel: And Other Cutting Edge Technology".  Actually, purely by accident I bumbled into Raymond Bice's course: Psychology 1.  


It was, without doubt, the most interesting course I ever took, and it was useful; over the next 50 years, almost daily I have recalled lessons-learned and frequently applied them to daily life.  But more than that, it was FUN......just plain, simple, fun.  It was taught Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday at 8AM but one had to fight fiercely to get into the class few of us ever missed.  On "Big Weekends" one could not always get a seat in the huge auditorium because so many of us brought our weekend dates to the class (yes, even after parties the night before). 


All credit, of course, goes to Mr. Bice.  He was an incredible teacher and role model.  So, takeaway #1 is that the best course to choose is one that is taught by a "Teacher-Phenom".  


But there is another lesson.  I had firm career plans when I started college, and they did not include any need for psychology, but I was fascinated by the subject.  Taking that course was one of my luckiest "accidents".  Takeaway#2 is that one should take at least one course that is not in your well-planned lifestyle choices; take a course (try to take at least one every year) that just interests you.


About 40 years after my college years, my son (also a Wahoo) was in the McIntire School but was also earning majors in physics and math as well.  By whim, he took a course in Modern Jazz.  He loved it and still talks about it, years later.


So my advice is:  Try to identify career paths and goals, but along the way be absolutely certain to take advantage of (i) the great professors and (ii) courses that interest you but might not be directly in your path.



Esther Lim, CLAS ’06:

The Basic Nutrition class taught by Professor Garrett in the Biology Department radically changed my understanding of and relationship with food.  Mind you, I am an English and Music double major with no interest whatsoever in science.  But I found the course to be engaging, the teaching clear, and the content life-changing.  I still remember the day we learned that ingredients on food packaging are listed in order of amount--I never looked at salad dressings the same way again.  Also, it helps me not to drown my fries in ketchup whenever I remember that literally a quarter of the bottle is sugar.  Turns out ketchup isn't a vegetable after all, folks.



Chatón T. Turner, Esq. CLAS ’93:

My favorite classes at U.Va. were in the History Department and were taught by Mark Thomas—History of American Business and History of American Economics. Professor Thomas was passionate, engaging and committed. I often met with him after class to discuss class topics. I also did a thesis with him in my last year because I was such a fan.  The subject matter of the classes was in my area of interest. However, Professor Thomas made the classes come alive!



Carrie Bohmer, CLAS ’17:

I would have to say my favorite class I have taken thus far was my ENWR 1210 which had the topic of "Gender and Sexuality in Music Video." A wonderful graduate student, Matthew Jones, taught this class and it was one of the most relevant classes I have taken. In it, we watched music videos and discussed the portrayal of men and women in them and its effects on society as a whole and then made original arguments about each topic. This course not only taught me how to be a better writer, but it also helped steer me in the direction I want to go in terms of picking a major. I highly recommend this class to any and all students because it can teach so much. 



Michael D. Phillips

I really enjoyed reading about the new professors. How wonderful to have these young, worldly, positive ,and of course gifted people on grounds. Best wishes to all.




Joe Bousquin:

Twenty years later, the lessons I learned about the universe and the inherent patterns of nature that are present everywhere around us are still what I remember most about my college studies -- and I was an English major. Recreating Galileo's experiments observing Jupiter's moons re-sized my own understanding of our world, and my place in it. Take this course. Dress warm. Give yourself to it (and every other course you take) completely. They'll be your companions for the rest of your life. 



Tricia Amberly Minson, CLAS ’04:

Get to know your RA!  He or she has just finished a week-long orientation, learning all about the resources UVA has to offer and how to support and encourage you in your first year at the University.  In addition to being a kind, friendly person who wants to help you, your RA might just become one of your closest friends!




Alyse Alicandro:

I absolutely LOVED the politics course that Paul Friedman taught this past J-term titled "Food & Politics." I actually wish it were offered in the semester so I could really have time to dive into the readings and read further about how politics has influenced our agricultural system (and turning it into a business). I think any student would be interested, and benefit, from this course since food plays a major part in our lives and everyone should understand how our food system works/how it's influenced. I actually eat differently because of that course now. I also thoroughly enjoyed the field trip we took to Polyface Farms. It was a private, and very privileged, tour since the famous farm doesn't allow tours to the public anymore. It really opened my eyes to local farming and got me more in touch with Virginia's agriculture. I would love to see this course offered as a semester long course and/or continued to be taught at UVA. This class was the most influential and enjoyable at my time at UVA.


Chris Reynolds:

Orchestral Music with Professor Velimirovich in Old Cabell Hall.  A survey of the development of great music that had always been intimidating to me, but was put forth in a way that facilitated both an intellectual grasp of the development of romantic and classical forms, and love for the music I was hearing.

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