Irreplaceable, departing faculty and staff reminisced by students

Published by Rachel Arceo on

The Mainstream

Much of UCC’s staff has spent years, if not decades, working directly with students, often more for the desire to help than the paycheck. Since many students rely on staff and faculty’s help and care, retirements and job changes make strong impressions when the inevitable times of change come.

Some UCC staff who are leaving or changing jobs are Marjan Coester, Hanna Culbertson, Destiny Hunt, Mike Matteo and Charles Young. Students were asked to share the impact some of these individuals have had.

“I am sad, but happy for them as well. Charles Young, Hanna and Marjan are all wonderful people, educators, communicators, listeners and leaders,” said ASUCC student government business manager and soon-to-be graduating student Nakaela Hunt in an email. “I’m sure many people who have had them throughout their college experience will miss them. The knowledge and experience they have go deeper than words.”

Mike Matteo, associate professor of mathematics

Mike Matteo, associate professor of mathematics, has helped multiple struggling students persevere through their return to college.
Mason Ramirez / The Mainstream

Mike Matteo, has been at UCC for 29 years, teaching courses from Math 20 through Math 11, he will be retiring at the end of spring term with hopes of spending quality time with his family and caring for his elderly parents.

“I will miss my colleagues. I have been privileged to work with a group of caring and supportive people,” said Matteo in an email. “I will also miss working with students and helping them take steps to reach their goals and change their lives.”

Graduating transfer student Billy Wagner is one student who credits Matteo with helping him persist in higher education. Wagner is a nontraditional student recently accepted into Eastern University; he struggled significantly at first but continued on largely due to the efforts of Matteo.

“Mike Matteo is probably one of the main reasons I am still in school,” says Wagner. “I had over a 30-year gap and I took his Math 90. I was half a step behind the whole way, and I thought about dropping the class and talked to him. 

“He said, look you are gonna have to retake the class but stick with me, don’t quit. I’m gonna knock all the rust off of you. Whoever you get next semester, they are gonna polish you up and you’ll see everything that you’ve learned and start to remember. It is all gonna click together,’ and he was right.”

“He’s the main reason I stuck to school instead of just going ‘I’m too old for this.’ He’s an amazing teacher; it’s going to be sad to see him go.”

Nontraditional pre-nursing student Amber Anderson shares Wagner’s belief that Matteo seriously influenced her return to school.

“Not only was Matt Matteo my first math instructor here at UCC, but his math class was one of the first classes I took,” Anderson says. “I am grateful that I had such an amazing instructor, especially at the beginning of the pandemic while a majority of classes were online.

“I had been out of school since 2007, so when I started back to school, I was very hesitant and unsure of myself academically. Matteo would sit on Zoom with us and give pep talks, make us laugh, and taught math in such a way that it gave me the confidence I needed to continue to where I am today.”

To read more about the other leaving staff, click here.

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