Faculty Spotlight: Judy Burgholzer
Judy Burgholzer had a dynamic biology instructor in high school who made the class fun.
"I particularly enjoyed learning about the plant side of biology," she said. "When I started college, I declared biology as a major, but I soon discovered I wanted to be more involved with plants on the macro level. Someone, and I don’t even remember who, suggested I check out the horticulture department. I had one conversation with a professor and was hooked."
After graduate school, Burgholzer spent nearly a year working in a soil testing lab in Indiana. Then she moved to the Chicago area, where she worked for a tropical plant care company. Teaching wasn't on her radar, but someone recommended that she apply for teaching positions at area community colleges. Burgholzer did so, although nothing was available at the time.
But College of DuPage eventually called and asked her to teach a summer class -- and she never left.
"I discovered that I really enjoy helping people learn. It is so rewarding. My father, who was also a teacher when I was very young, once told me that he’d always thought I would be good at teaching others. When I asked him why he never suggested it to me, he laughed and said, 'I didn’t want to push you!'
"My advice to students is to ask others what they see as your strengths, because they may see something in you that you don’t see in yourself. It might just help you find your way to a rewarding career."
Burgholzer is continually inspired by her students, and she likes the range of ages from traditional-age to students in their 50s and 60s.
"I admire the sacrifices the older students make to seek a career in horticulture, and I am especially impressed with the younger group coming in who want to become stewards of the environment. It’s encouraging to know the next generation is so aware of the issues facing the earth’s growing population and diminishing resources. Because of the students, I am inspired to do the best I can do in the classroom to help them reach their goals," she said.
"Most of our students come to us with a passion for horticulture. What I hope they take away is a good, strong foundation of the basic principles of horticulture to help fuel that passion. I want them to realize what they learn in class will help them be even more passionate and confident as they enter the workforce."
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