Susan Wondra

Susan Wondra

...students realize that some of their “differences” are actually similarities to one another. Susan Wondra , Instructor, Psychology , The Art Institute of Austin, a branch of The Art Institute of Houston
What would you say is the defining moment in your life when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

From very early on I have always been passionate about working with others and always knew that I wanted to teach in a college setting at some point in my life. I started college ‘undecided’ and it was in my first Intro to Psychology class that I became enthralled by the understanding of human behaviors. Educating others to provide a greater understanding of deviant behaviors helps to reduce stigma and generate compassion within our society!

How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience to provide an industry veteran's sense of the realities / challenges / opportunities of the profession?

It can be difficult to understand how abnormal or odd events have occurred and shaped our history and it's easy to question ‘why?’ Providing real-life examples from the field helps others to recognize how we often apply psychological theories to everyday life without even being aware of it.

Is there a class assignment that exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring? Similarly, how does your approach inspire each student to push themselves beyond their own perceived limits?

Various psychological disorders are researched and elaborated on, social issues and conflicts are explored, and everyone provides their own additional insight on the topic based on their fields of study. I have had Culinary students research various foods that can help with certain disorders based on the ingredients, Audio students have contributed melodies to provide calming states of mind, and Graphic & Web design students have presented visual depictions of abnormalities within society.

What role does collaboration contribute to students' success, especially when students from other programs contribute to the same project?

Group collaboration and cohesion is essential in the field of psychology and within the classroom. Through our communication, understanding of one another, and willingness to assist, students recognize the need to build on their relationships with others. Often times, in group projects, students realize that some of their “differences” are actually similarities to one another.  

In your opinion, what is the single most important thing you impart to your students to help them succeed in your class and in the real world? Alternatively, what is the most critical advice you would offer any student as he / she embarks on a creative career?

Whether it’s in the kitchen or behind the camera, the million-dollar question can be how can they attract more consumers or provide their services more effectively and to the liking of others; and the answers often lie in the needs of others.