More than 11 years ago, Vi Rajagopalan, SCC associate professor of psychology, made the switch from psychologist to professor, and she hasn’t looked back.
After working as a psychologist at various mental health facilities in St. Louis for 16 years she decided to return into academia. “I learned over a period of time that in order to be effective in and meet the demands of my career, I needed to expand and apply my academic skills,” Vi said.
In 2001, she moved to Cleveland to teach full time at Cuyahoga Community College. “It was then that I realized all the exciting things happening in the classroom,” she said. “And I knew that’s where I wanted to be.”
But Vi knew that she wouldn’t be able to transfer her excitement and enthusiasm for psychology to her students by just providing lectures and study guides.
“Listening to my students’ stories of struggle and the challenges they faced helped me shape my teaching style and philosophy to meet their needs,” she said. Vi became the director of assessment at Cuyahoga, before moving on to Moraine Valley Community College in Chicago in the same position.
Her interest again returned to teaching, added to a desire to move back to St. Louis. In 2008, she was offered a full-time faculty position at SCC, and she didn’t hesitate to accept. “I was excited that it wasn’t a large community college and that the classroom sizes were small,” she said. “Plus, SCC has a good reputation in the area.”
At SCC, Vi relies on her experiences from all three community colleges. “I know now that it’s not just about how proficient I am in my area of expertise, but, more importantly, how I am able to transfer that knowledge to my students,” she said.
Now in her fifth year at SCC, Vi truly values what the college has to offer.
“What sets SCC apart is the college culture and its efforts to achieve academic excellence,” she said. “The focus of this endeavor is not just to meet the needs of our students but also to provide support for faculty and others who are on the frontline of student success.”