adult college education in connecticut

Q&A with Dr. Sherri Bernier – A Goodwin College Educator

I recently had the privilege to interview Dr. Sherri Bernier, affectionately known to her students as “Dr. B.” Dr. B has been at Goodwin since 2012 and has taught many classes, many of which I have taken with her. I always found her to be extremely helpful and dedicated to her students, especially those whom she advised and mentored, like myself.

Since there have been many changes since Dr. B came to Goodwin, I asked her the following questions:

What has changed since you first came to teach at Goodwin?

Since first coming to Goodwin, the changes have been many. One in particular is that when I first began at Goodwin teaching sociology, I moved into the Human Services program. The bachelor’s program was just getting off the ground. Before 2012-13, students in the Human Services program earned a certificate or an associate degree. Now, the majority of Human Services students receive bachelor’s degrees and are then enrolling in the Master’s in Organizational Leadership right here at Goodwin. Since the fall of 2018, I am now advising and teaching students who live on campus.

What do you like most about teaching at Goodwin?

At Goodwin, I have the opportunity to see my adult students achieving their goals of receiving a college education. For many of them, they are the first generation in their family to obtain a college degree, while also working and raising a family.

Do you have any special memories you wish to share since coming to Goodwin?

There are many memories, but one that stands out and holds a special place in my heart is that one of my Human Services students, at the age of 32, had breast cancer, and she was not sure if she should take the semester off while going through treatment. I, too, was diagnosed with breast cancer at 41 and was also working on my bachelor’s degree. I knew how important it was for me to finish my degree, and I shared my experience with my student. Together we worked out her plan of study, and she took online courses when she had to have chemotherapy. It was a very special moment for me to see her walk on the stage and receive her bachelor’s degree in Human Services. The student is now a case manager for the Connecticut Department of Children and Families.

What is the one thing that you try to instill in each student you teach?

As an adult learner myself, receiving my bachelor’s degree at 44, my master’s at 47, and my doctorate at 52, I know first-hand the perseverance needed as my students juggle family, work, and school. I try to instill in my students that an education is one of the best gifts they can give to themselves. Also, it is important to me to instill in my students the importance of believing in themselves and to give them tools to increase their self-esteem and self-worth.

It goes without saying that Dr. Bernier truly loves her students. She is an advisor, mentor, advocate, and friend. I enjoyed speaking with her and discussing her career at Goodwin College.

By Carol Nelson ‘17