In July, the USF College of Public Health’s Dr. Matawal Makut, instructor I, marked the end of his first year as a faculty-in-residence at USF’s Beta Hall. As the new school year begins, Makut is excited to continue with the three-year commitment.
As a FIR, professors are charged with fostering habits of curiosity about and involvement in educational, cultural and service activities for students beyond the classroom. FIRs help plan and implement social as well as educational programs while serving as a role model, teacher and leader within the residential community in which they reside.
Prior to his appointment as a FIR, Makut had experience with USF housing and residential education as a faculty fellow.
“My first year experience has great,” Makut said. “I was initially skeptical because I was not sure of what to expect but as an alumni myself, the transition was not so bad and I am happy with the opportunity to live with students and understand them beyond the classroom.”
During his first year as a FIR, Makut hosted several educational programs and initiatives throughout the year which included:
- Taco Tuesday and Suya Sunday where he cooked traditional Nigerian skewer and a tacos to get to know the students from his dorm
- Wellness Wednesday in collaboration with the Center for Student Wellness on sleep, hygiene, stress and time management before finals
- Spring and fall cooking demonstration at Argos Exchange with an in-house nutritionist to teach students about healthy and cost effective food options on campus
- Manatee viewing with Green LLC students from Maple Hall
- Meet and greet over cupcakes
- Pre-Nursing LLC career talk with COPH advisor Meleine Desir
- Stem LLC Table Talk with Dr. Richard Pollenz from the USF College of Arts and Sciences Department of Cell Biology, Microbiology and Molecular Biology
- Study abroad connection presentation and international tapas night with the USF Judy Genshaft Honors College
Makut said that the response from students to the programs and initiatives has been amazing and that he has been able to engage with students during all of his events. He has also been able to get to know many COPH students as well.
“That is the beauty of being on campus and organizing events. I have been able to connect with students who are in public health. They are always excited knowing a COPH faculty member stays on campus,” Makut said. “A student who I met during my events on campus talked about study abroad with, eventually joined me on a public health study abroad trip to Japan which was amazing.”
He hopes that the students he has met have learned more about public health and the importance of engaging with faculty outside of the classroom.
Makut said that he has learned a lot from his experience thus far and is looking forward to the new semester.
“I realized that students are always excited, curious and willing to learn new things from faculty but require an opportunity for such conversations,” he said.
For the upcoming term, Makut is hoping to get all of the public health students residing on-campus together for a public health themed excursion.
Story by Caitlin Keough, USF College of Public Health