Name: Monica Riordan
Title: Assistant Professor of Experimental Psychology
Joined Chatham: August 2012
Born & Raised: St. Louis, Missouri
Interests: family time, hiking, and travel
- What was your first job and what did you learn from it?
My first job was at the YMCA when I was 15. I worked in the baby nursery and taught gymnastics classes and summer camps for children. I learned quite a lot about negotiating and compromise (especially from the toddlers), how to make boring tasks seem fun (like making up songs for stretching routines), and showing leadership skills when in charge of a group of many different personalities and interests.
- What aspect of your life before teaching best prepared you to do so?
Working with children is a fantastic training ground for just about any career you ever take in life. It teaches you to think on the fly, be flexible from one moment to another, always have a plan B (and often C and D), work with many different people of many different backgrounds and needs, develop coping skills for high-stress environments, and show grace under pressure.
- What makes teaching at Chatham special for you?
At many universities, teacher-student interaction is limited to the classroom, but I have found at Chatham (for better or worse), students weave themselves into the teachers’ lives. They email me articles that they think will be interesting to me, they ask about my son, they invite me to their plays and sporting events, and greet me by name and a hearty “good morning!”
- What is your favorite thing about working with Chatham students?
Most students are eager to learn and they spend time trying to relate material to their own lives and come up with examples of how they see psychological theories acted out in the real world. This transfer of learning from paper to practice is heartening to me as a teacher.
- What is your passion?
I like to design experiments and collect data, but am happiest when analyzing the data in the hope of finally finding answers to questions. Despite my passion for research, though, writing, unfortunately, I find to be necessary drudgery.
Monica Riordan is an assistant professor in the Psychology department at Chatham. She challenges her students to identify her one tattoo.