Caitlin Luetger, adjunct Humanities faculty and lecturer, has been named College of DuPage's Overall Outstanding Part-Time Faculty Member for 2014-2015.
Representing the Liberal Arts Division, the Woodridge resident will receive a $500 award from the College of DuPage Foundation, which annually recognizes outstanding teaching achievement at the College.
When she was ready for college, Luetger thought her career would be in sports.
"I went to Texas A&M on an archery scholarship, and I thought I'd do sports forever," she said. "But because of a rotator cuff injury, I had to reevaluate what I wanted to do."
Unsure of a major, Luetger returned home, attended College of DuPage for a year and then transferred to DePaul University. Throughout her career, she changed majors multiple times.
"I always changed my major to something humanities-related – social sciences, writing, history, philosophy, religious studies or art," she said. "My mom was a working artist, and at one point I thought about studio art. But I had to make a practical decision. I originally decided to become a museum educator but changed my mind toward the end of my bachelor's degree."
It was a general internship at the DuPage County Historical Museum that led Luetger to teaching. She worked with the museum's education department where her duties included leading tours, working with children, and planning materials and exhibits that related to various exhibits. In particular, Luetger said she liked the classroom-like settings associated with her job and realized that's where she wanted to be.
After earning her bachelor's degree in History, Luetger worked as an art instructor for school children while completing her master's degree in Liberal Studies from North Central College. She then began teaching general humanities part-time at Waubonsee Community College.
"I was surprised to find that the subject combined all of my interests into one," she said. "I wasn't limited to art, history, religion or philosophy. It's really fun to have access to all of these disciplines at once."
Luetger started at College of DuPage in 2012 and now holds the position of lecturer for the Humanities program. When teaching "Intro to Humanities," she asks her class what "humanities" means and then explains it's an umbrella under which all human experiences are connected.
And there's one point during every semester that she says to herself, "I am so happy that I made this choice to be a teacher."
"I like meeting new people," she said. "Aside from the fact that I can talk about topics that I enjoy, every semester I have new students to get to know. And having access to so many new people keeps teaching exciting. Every person has a new take on the topic. They have so many things to talk about, and they are encouraged to do so in my class."
Luetger is inspired by hard work and is continuously impressed by how motivated her students are at working toward their degrees. Her basic goal is to help her students know how relatable the humanities are for many people.
"I want them to take away the fact that the arts or some of these other subjects are not exclusive for people wearing monocles and sipping champagne," she said. "Arts and literature and films and philosophy are accessible by everyone. You don't have to be born into a particular social class to understand a painting. Any person in every way can connect with these topics."