Featured Teacher: Virginia Burkel

virgina burkelBy Michael Mishler

Instructor: Virginia Burkel
Subject: Physical science/chemistry lab instructor, 12 years

Q: What made you want to teach at Washtenaw?
A: I taught at Eastern Michigan University and I liked the interaction with the students and seeing their faces light up when they understand a concept.

Q: What is your favorite pastime?
A: Watching the Red Wings.

Q: What is your favorite meal?
A: Thanksgiving dinner! But I really like New York style pizza.

Q: What is your favorite song right now?
A: I haven’t actively listened to anything in awhile, but I could give you some classical music that I like. I just listened to Handel’s “Water Music” while I was in lab. That’s a good one.

Q: What is the most concerning thing you’ve seen in the news lately?
A: This is really terrible, but the fire in Gatlinburg and they had to leave all the animals in the aquarium behind, and that was heart-wrenching to me because I love animals. Also, this plane crash that just happened with the Brazilian soccer team. There were a couple survivors but not many. Just so terrible.

Q: What is the most satisfying part of your job?
A: Seeing the students understand something that they thought they couldn’t understand, because I know how that feels myself and to see someone else go through that is satisfying when they get it.

Q: What is your dream travel destination?
A: Russia. I’d like to go to the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. I’ve been to Prague, but that’s only slightly similar.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
A: I believe I’ll still be here, and a research scientist at my current position at NSF International.

Q: If you could meet any famous figure, living or dead, who and why?
A: I think I’d like to meet Teddy Roosevelt. I just think he had a really unique perspective on the world and he really pushed us into the next century.

Q: What is your biggest motivation to come do your job as a chemist and instructor?
A: Discovery for both of them. Like my discoveries in my own work, and helping students discover things in school.



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