Q&A with the ELC’s Shelley Etzine

What made you want to become an English language specialist?

My undergraduate degree was in English literature. I majored in English literature and I’m actually from South Africa. I also love people, in fact, when I did my aptitude test, they said to me that I should go into something like health professions — like social work, occupational therapy or something like that. I also really loved the arts: theatre, music and I really wanted to have a career in arts management, but when I finished my degree I got a graduate degree in personal management and training and with my first job I gravitated toward the training aspect of it, not the interviewing or HR aspect of it.

I worked in a lot of different English language programs. I was teaching at a lot of different places but I loved the language program here. I loved the people who were here. It’s almost just like I found a family here and the more I taught, the more it was just a right thing for me. It’s just endlessly fascinating, because at the same time you are teaching, you are learning about all these cultures. I really found my niche, and that’s what I have been doing ever since.

What kind of impact would you like to make at the English Language Center?

I would like to have happy students, and I would like students to love coming here and to recommend to all their friends and family that this is a really great place to come and study. I would really love to see more and more students going to the university and studying here at Towson. A lot of our students either go back home or go to other universities and I would really love to see more international students on this campus, and I would love the university to recognize that our students begin here and that we are preparing them to enter the university.

I would also like them to know that there is a wonderful resource here of really experienced teachers who understand international students, understand their struggles, understand their challenges and really understand what they can bring to this campus and the great diversity that they bring which American students can learn from in their classrooms. I would like that to be the impact: more students going to the university. America is a multicultural country and there are so many different cultures and there are a lot of tensions because of that but that’s also the great beauty of America so I would love for students to learn about the people of the world and all the different cultures they represent and maybe broaden their horizons a little bit.

Would you like to see any changes made to the department?

Well I think the department is pretty good as it is. We have been here for 30 years, and we have a 30 year track record. I would like to grow as a whole a little bit more and have more students because we sort of go up and down so I would like to see a little bit steadier. I’d like to see us being able to offer some training or courses to the campus at large. It would be nice to have some more opportunities maybe in the education department. We are constantly looking for ways to keep our curriculum current.

Compiled by Peter Demestihas

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