Teaching is not the only way that college professors influence their students. They often become role models and mentors. They create an environment that is challenging and supportive, conducive to active and collaborative learning, and open to student-faculty interaction.
"I believe that the best teachers inspire students," said Margie Salyer, M.S., coordinator of the Master of Science (M.S.) in Clinical Psychology program at Benedictine University. "It isn't enough to teach skills, techniques, theories and interventions. Inspiring students to value the client is a lovely gift a teacher can give to students and ultimately to the students' future clients."
However, there is also another way that college professors can influence a student. They can bring their work home with them.
"Much in the same way a firefighter's son becomes a firefighter, or a policeman's son becomes a policeman, I think you bring it home with you," Salyer said. "It's part of your identity. So you know that it transmits and it can inspire.
"The hope is that it inspires the same way you try to inspire your students, and I think that happened," she added.
Salyer, who studied at Benedictine University under program founder Alexey Shukin, unleashed a kindred spirit in her daughter, Ellie.
"I went to college as an art major, but halfway through, I realized I was taking a lot of psychology courses," Ellie Salyer said. "It was instilled in me."
After earning an undergraduate degree from California State University at Fullerton, Ellie Salyer returned home to study under her mother and earn a master's degree in Clinical Psychology from Benedictine.
The mother-daughter, teacher-student dynamic was both interesting and fascinating, the elder Salyer said.
"The program requirements in the graduate Psychology program are different than the undergraduate program," Margie Salyer said. "The assessment instruments are different. You know there is a paper to write. You can get other people to examine the paper, but there are fairly objective standards.
"So it was fascinating and lovely at the same time, and sometimes really challenging…you know, to have her looking at me while I am lecturing," she added.
At first, Ellie was a little apprehensive about sitting in a class taught by her mother.
"It was definitely weird," Ellie Salyer said. "I wasn't sure how the other students in the class would feel. But everybody just thought it was kind of funny. It didn't end up being a big deal at all. I'm used to taking directions from her anyway."
Today, the two women not only share a love of clinical psychology, they share a practice, Margaret Salyer & Associates.
"I'm the associates," Ellie Salyer said.
"It's great, because we think alike," Margie Salyer said. "She was apprenticing with me long before she chose her graduate program. I graduated from this program, too. So you are steeped in a philosophy, a perspective and humanistic stance regarding people. This comes across as you are raising a child. It guides you. It is embedded in values and it informs your parenting principles.
"I would go home and talk about something that is exciting to me or challenging to me and both my girls listened," she added. "They were very interested, or maybe they were just being kind. But something rubbed off."