A recent one on one interview with our Intro to Psychology instructor Ken Sell.
Q: Tell us a little background history on Ken Sell?
K.S.: I am from a small steel mill
town in Western PA, 45 miles NW of Pittsburgh right on the Ohio River. I grew
up where the PA, OH, and West Virginia borders all intersect. My father worked
in the town’s steel mill (along with my grandfather and numerous uncles) and my
mother worked in a glass factory. As a result of growing up in Western PA, I am
a huge Pittsburgh Steelers fan. I am the oldest of three children, having
two younger sisters. In my town, you had three choices for a vocation: (1) work
in the steel mill, (2) join the military, or (3) go to college. I chose
college, in spite of the fact that I was a below average student in high
school. I worked in the steel mill myself for three summers to pay for my
college (along with student loans). I was the first person in my family to go
to college. I met my wife in college and then moved to California following
college graduation to be with her (I was crazy “in love” and her
father got transferred to California due to his job and with all the steel
mills in my areas closing down it sounded like a good idea). While in
California, I obtained my graduate degree and began working in the mental
health field as a therapist. I became a licensed Marriage and Family counselor
in California and did pretty much everything you can in the mental health
field. My wife and I then moved to Nashville, TN, after approx. 17 yrs. in
California so she could advance her career. We lived in Nashville for two years
and then moved to Salisbury, Md., so again, my wife could advance her career.
While in MD we adopted our daughter who is now 11 years of age. I worked in a
private practice setting in MD. I enjoyed living in Md. due to our town only
being a half-hour drive from Ocean City, MD. But then the Mayo Clinic made an
offer to my wife that she simply could not refuse so we moved to Rochester, MN
approximately 9 years ago. While it was a tremendous move for my wife, it was a
disaster for me. I could not find work in my field and I wall-papered my dining
room with all the rejection letters I received. So I decided to stay home with
my daughter until she began school – then out of the blue, MSB called me to
teach a class.
I saw an ad in the local newspaper for a psychology instructor so I applied. I
did not hear anything for approximately 2 months, so I thought my resume ended
up in the circular filing cabinet like all my other job applications. Then out
of the blue, I received a telephone call to teach a psych class. Then, before I
knew it, I was hired and teaching a class. Then the number of classes I taught
just grew from there. I know I was a desperation hire but I am grateful for the
opportunity. I had always wanted to teach at a college level but never had the
opportunity, until now. I have lost track of the number of years I have been at
MSB having so much “fun.” And with all the recent hires that have
been added, I guess I am one of the “old-timers.”
I am still married to my college flame (going on 32 years this Sept. We were
married on Labor Day weekend because I wanted a holiday that would be symbolic
of our marriage – only kidding!!) and I have an 11 year old daughter, who is
the love of my life. I also have a 14 yr. old Italian Greyhound who is inching
closer to his final vet visit. For hobbies, I enjoy playing board games,
playing sports and strategy games on the computer, playing piano, listening to
music, reading, and chasing my wife around the house (problem is, when I
succeed in catching her, I sometimes forget what to do). I enjoy working at MSB
and hope to continue working here until my wife, like our dog, takes me to the doctor
for a final visit. And hopefully, that won’t be for awhile!
Q: Why do you like teaching?
K.S.: 1. I enjoy interacting with the students, especially informally and in a mentoring fashion
2. I enjoy imparting what I know and have learned about my profession through all
my years of work
3. I enjoy seeing students get excited about the subjects and material I teach
4. I enjoy hearing that students improved the quality of their lives through their
knowledge of psychology that I taught
5. I enjoy hearing that students benefitted some way from the knowledge they
gained from my classes
6. I enjoy the fun (sometimes) I have in my classes and hearing that the students
also enjoyed their experience and had fun as well
Q: What type of music do you listen to? Why?
K.S.: 1. Classical – it helps me relax and is excellent background music for doing work
2. Oldies from the 60’s and ‘70’s – my era!
3. Classic rock from the 60’s & ‘70’s – especially Styx, Kansas, Boston, and
Yes. My favorite groups
Q: Favorite film? Why?
I do not watch many movies so this is a difficult question. I probably enjoy
watching Christmas movies during the holiday season the most. I really enjoy
the Christmas season and have found memories attached to these movies.
Q: Favorite book? Why?
K.S.: The Bible – life transforming; good dose of reality; reading it regularly helps
maintain my relationship with God and with others; guiding principles to base
the foundation of my life upon
Q: What do you hope the students will come away with after they have participated in your class?
K.S.: 1. Knowledge of the subjects I teach
2. A pleasant and fun experience.
3. Positive memories of the class
4. Being able to apply what they learned in my classes to real life experiences