Faculty Spotlight: Brian Parsons encourages students’ political voice
Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 27, 2012 19:09
Not many can say they’ve known their calling since eighth grade. However, Assistant Professor of Political Science Bryan Parsons is one who can.
“After I finished my Ph.D., I was going through some old things and came across one of those surveys from eighth grade, and it said teacher,” Parsons said.
Parsons has been a professor at UTM since January 2010. He started at UTM while completing his dissertation through the University of South Carolina. UTM became his first official teaching position, though he had taught a few courses at USC as a graduate student.
As an undergraduate, Parsons studied Political Science at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina.
“I was a freshman in college when Sept. 11 hit, and I became immediately interested in politics,” Parsons said.
Political Science is the study of how government, policies, systems and political behavior work together. Parsons described himself as having a “passion for politics.”
“I hope what makes me qualified in this field is that I tried with my dissertation and peer journal to contribute knowledge and research to the discipline,” Parsons said.
Parsons tries to engage not only in Political Science majors’ lives, but also students in general on the UTM campus who are interested in politics. Anyone enrolled in Parsons’ Intro to Political Science class this fall will be required to watch at least two of the presidential debates and write a short report on them.
“I’m trying to engage students in it even if they wouldn’t have been [interested otherwise],” Parsons said.
A love for teaching and a passion for politics have made him a hit among a diverse group of students on the UTM campus.
“He’s easy to talk to and really tries to break class down for you and walk you through it. He’s very willing to help outside of class and really knows what he’s talking about on top of obviously loving the subject,” said Beka Joyner, a UTM senior and Political Science major.
Parsons’ says he keeps an open door policy when it comes to students speaking with him about anything going on in the political world.
“I’ve had students that are not even political science majors come and talk to me. That’s fun,” Parsons said.
Parsons clearly enjoys what he does and has gained the respect and admiration of his students as their professor.
“I like that he is in touch with his students, genuinely cares about the things we have to say and he never dismisses anything a student says,” said Marilyn Tyree, a UTM senior and Political Science major.
Being a top-notch professor is more than just knowing the material and repeating it to classes. It is being able to relate the material to the students and explain its importance. Parsons has obviously been able to do this in his time here at UTM.
“He’s passionate about what he teaches and even though some of the material is less than entertaining, he always introduces it in a way that makes his students want to listen. Plus his sense of humor helps to shake things up. I am a fan,” Tyree said.
Along with being able to relate the material, to truly be a great professor, one must passionately love what they do. That is definitely something that Parsons can say.
“I consider myself lucky to do something I love to do. I just love coming to work, going into the classroom, and when students come by,” Parsons said.
Occasionally, students will have the idea that politics doesn’t involve them or their voice doesn’t matter. Parsons really encourages students to be involved in the political world and to know what is going on.
“Ultimately, when [students] realize what happens in the political world affects them now, not in the future, a light bulb goes off. [If] someone is speaking on their behalf in Nashville or Washington, they might as well have a say,” Parsons said.