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Teach it forward: four alumni who are firing up their students

From time to time, we’ve asked Yale alumni to share their recollections of memorable Yale professors and of the one course they’ll never forget. Two of John Morton Blum’s former students, for instance, wrote that his teaching of history inspired them to do the same.

But what of the newest generation of inspiring professors? How many are educated at Yale?

About 10 percent, according to the totally unscientific new feature “40 Under 40: Professors Who Inspire” from NerdScholar, which calls itself a financial literacy website for college students.

Chosen “based on nominations highlighting their love of teaching,” the inaugural 40 professors “are inspiring the young adults of today to be the world leaders and humanitarians of tomorrow,” NerdScholar says.

And four of the 40 have Yale degrees. They are:

  • Maria Fackler ’07PhD, who teaches English and gender and sexuality studies at Davidson College in North Carolina. NerdScholar quotes her as saying that teaching is “the only thing I am good for in this life!” and adds: “This humility is part of what draws her students to her.” That, her seminar on “Gossip,” and her status—according to the website HerCampus—as “unanimously Davidson’s most stylish faculty member.”
  • Casey Jarrin ’98, an assistant professor of English at Minnesota’s Macalester College. Jarrin “draws from a host of experience gained prior to teaching, including an unexpected stint on Wall Street, research work and time spent in the publishing world,” NerdScholar says. The site also says Jarrin’s students call her Dr. J—but one student, who took her classes for four years, told a Macalester publication: “There are six or seven of us who call ourselves Casey’s kids.” Another student in her course on crime literature and film says: “Casey is so excited about everything that we work on that she’s always leaning forward, about to fall.”
  • Scott Kaufman ’09PhD, who taught psychology at New York University. “The idea of changing a student's life—the way someone did for him years ago—along with his students’ endless curiosity inspire Kaufman inside and outside the classroom,” NerdScholar says. Now Kaufman is a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center.


The Yale Alumni Magazine is published by Yale Alumni Publications Inc., an alumni-based nonprofit that is not run by Yale University. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration.

Filed under higher education, Maria Fackler, Casey Jarrin, Scott Kaufman, Sarah Parcak
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