Spotlight on Social Sciences Alumni: Emily Schneider

schniederName: Emily Schneider

Occupation: Special Education Teacher

Education: BA (Psychology), University of Rochester, 2006; MA (Early Childhood Special Education), George Washington University; Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis at George Mason University

Current city/state of residence: Washington, D.C.

Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?

I applied Early Decision to the University of Rochester. When I visited with my parents, I immediately felt like this could be my home for the next four years. After I did an overnight visit with current students, my decision was sealed. I loved the feel of the campus and the opportunities it offered. The UofR fit everything I imagined college should be, and it did not disappoint!

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

One of the most influential programs I was involved with at the University of Rochester was Professor Bennetto’s practicum in developmental disabilities. In addition to meeting for class discussions, we also worked in a classroom on campus that worked with 18-21 year olds with developmental disabilities. They were learning critical life skills for half of the day and worked jobs the other half of the day. I absolutely loved this experience. This is why I am a special education teacher today. Professor Bennetto’s practicum allowed me to find my passion for teaching children with developmental disabilities, and I am forever grateful the University of Rochester provided me with this opportunity.

What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?

After graduation, I was accepted into the DC Teaching Fellows program. I knew I had a passion for helping children, especially children with disabilities. I thought the Fellows program would offer me a great opportunity to explore teaching as a career. As I taught in a high-needs DC public school, I went to school for my masters in special education. It turned out I truly loved to teach, and I have been working at my same school in DC as the early childhood autism teacher for the past six years.

How are you still connected with the University?

The University of Rochester will always have a special place in my heart. I am connected to the University through the amazing friends that I made during my time there. Even though we are spread across the country, we are all still very close. We constantly reminisce about our college days. I have been back a few times, which is always so much fun. I love being on campus. One of my favorite times was returning to UofR for a friend’s bachelorette party. We wanted to go back to where we all met. We had a great time taking pictures around the campus and remembering the good times we had. I imagine us being old ladies and returning to do the same thing years and years from now.

What advice do you have for current students?

Enjoy every moment! Everyone says it, but you don’t realize how true it is until you’re done – college is one of the best times of your life. Don’t stress yourself out too much – make sure you have a nice balance of work and fun. Take advantage of the amazing classes and opportunities. And one last thing – make sure you get out of bed on the weekend in time to go to Danforth brunch – it was always our favorite! :)

Spotlight on Humanities Alumni: Jeremy Sarachan

sarachanName: Jeremy Sarachan

Education: BA (Psychology and Film Studies), University of Rochester, 1991; Certificate of Management Studies, University of Rochester ’93; M.S. Rochester Institute of Technology, Information Technology ’99 (focus on multimedia/ web design and programming)

Current city/state of residence: Rochester, NY

Job Title: Assistant Professor, Communication/Journalism and Program Director, Digital Cultures and Technologies

Employer: St. John Fisher College

Community activities: acting and directing in local theater; former member of improv comedy troupe

Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?  

I transferred from Cornell halfway through my sophomore year in search of smaller classes and a more intellectual atmosphere, and happily found it at U of R.  I value the rigor of Constance Penley’s course in Contemporary Film Theory and Richard Gollin’s student-centered seminar in Screen Comedy.

When and how did you choose your major?  

I declared film studies as a second major (with psychology) the summer before my junior year.  I had been making videos since middle school and wanted to explore films and filmmaking more thoroughly.  At that point, I also was considering graduate school in filmmaking.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I was Business Manager of the Filmmaking Club; a few students, mostly film studies majors, had the opportunity to make films and present them to the campus at the end of each semester.  I was Managing Editor of The Norm, which was the U of R humor magazine published from the mid 80’s to mid-90’s.  I also acted in several plays, including “Nicholas Nickleby,” an 8-hour play (performed over two evenings) with 40+ student performers.  I use the design skills I learned on The Norm to this day and became very active in community and fringe theater after college as a result of my experiences in Todd Theater.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

I’m an Assistant Professor of Communication/Journalism and director of the program in Digital Cultures and Technologies at St. John Fisher College.  I teach courses in web design, social media, digital storytelling, documentary film, and emergent media theory. After several years in business, I found I missed learning, went to graduate school, and became an academic.

What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?  

Film Studies taught me how to examine a piece of art carefully and critically and to see purpose in the smallest details.  In any kind of video, art, or design work, this ability to focus and articulate meaning is invaluable.

What advice do you have for current students?

Major in what interests you.  It’ll work out.  I tell that to my current students, and I’m living proof.  Soon after college, I decided that a career in film wasn’t really for me.  But then multimedia and the web emerged and I was able to revisit my high school interest in computer programming. Now, my profession requires an understanding of cognitive psychology, user interfaces and visual aesthetics, allowing me to combine my two majors in ways I would have never imagined while I was a student.



Seeds of Change Planted during A Season for Nonviolence

Univ. Communications – A group of students at the University of Rochester recently wrapped up a six-week Nonviolent Communication training course offered free of charge by the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence. The course is part of a series of programs and lectures offered by the Institute during A Season for Nonviolence, which lasts between January 30 and April 4.

A Season for Nonviolence was initiated by Arun and Sunanda Gandhi at the United Nations in 1998. The two dates commemorate the assassinations of M.K. Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., respectively. The 64-day education, media, and grassroots campaign aims to “bring to life the principles and practice of nonviolence as a powerful way to heal, transform and empower individuals and communities,” according to a statement by the Institute.

VIDEO: Carillion Bells Ring Weekly During A Season for Nonviolence

Nonviolent Communication, as a formal conflict resolution strategy, was started by American psychologist Marshall Rosenberg in the 1960s and is based on the principles of self-empathy, empathy, and honest self-expression. The class, led by Gandhi Institute director and former apprentice to Rosenberg, Kit Miller, convened for two and a half hours each Thursday over the course of six weeks. It brought together students and community members to discover the psychological principles underlying nonviolent communication and to practice the daily application of Rosenberg’s strategies.

“What I’ve valued most is being able to actually apply it,” said studio art major Joey Hartmann-Dow ’12, “the concept of making observations to guess what other people’s needs are instead of making snap judgements is a challenge and a gift.  Kit Miller is a wonderful teacher, and it was inspiring to meet other students and community members who want to gain these valuable skills.”

The course is usually organized in the fall semesters, but when Keegan Olton ’13, a philosophy and studio art double major, heard about the opportunity this past winter, he approached Miller about teaching the course in the spring. “I heard about NVC from a friend of mine who just completed the training for his work.  Having studied the history of noviolence with [philosophy department Professor Emeritus] Bob Holmes, I was very intrigued by it,” said Olton.

“I’m highly motivated by receiving requests from students,” said Miller. “I’m more and more happy to be someone who responds to requests from students, rather than sort of sitting here in splendid isolation, trying to guess what people want.”

“I was excited to have realized that if there’s something good going on and you want to take part in it you can make it happen and not just wait until it’s scheduled to happen again,” said Olton. Miller asked him to find ten students to sign up for the class and the remaining eight spots were opened up to interested community members.

The result was a mix of people of different ages and backgrounds, which created a rich learning environment. “I definitely think that 18- to 23-year-olds practicing anything, really, with a group of people much older than them is something that doesn’t happen often enough,” Olton said. “The people who came brought different levels of understanding but everyone was willing to move the class forward at a pace needed by those with the least understanding.”

For the students participating in the class, the interest came from a desire to improve interpersonal communications, develop more effective leadership skills, and, some looked to explore interesting psychological work. Matias Piva ’14, a philosophy and psychology major, decided to take the class because of aspirations of becoming a relationship coach and therapist. “I thought that the skills I stood to learn from the class would be invaluable tools for the career I wanted to achieve,” Piva said.

One of the main goals of NVC is to teach people to recognize the humanity in others and to, in Gandhi’s words, separate the doer from the deed.  This is possible when people’s actions and words are considered in light of the needs they are aimed at fulfilling. Once the needs of others are identified and the emotions, words, and actions used to express those needs are discussed, common ground in conflict can be reached.

“We see someone doing something or saying something we don’t like and we collapse their act or their speech with them. Nonviolent communication, for me, helps to pull that apart, to be able to look with compassion on a person even when I’m really, really not on board with what they’re saying or what they’re doing,” Miller explained.

As the last class wrapped up, the students and community members reflected happily on the new skills they acquired and their experiences in applying them to daily interactions.  “I do highly recommend this class to students and anyone else interested in changing the way they approach the world and one another,” said Piva.

Olton agreed. “My communication is slower and more deliberate and I find myself saying less, but what I do say means more to those I say it to.”

Both Piva and Olton, along with other members of the course, expressed the intention to continue practicing and sharing their skills to affect positive changes in their environments and within themselves.

As the Season for Nonviolence continues, the Gandhi Institute will host speakers and organize events to promote their cause. For information about upcoming events or opportunities to learn about nonviolence, check out the Institute’s website or email Kit Miller.

Article written by Maya Dukmasova, a Take 5 Scholar at the University of Rochester and an intern at University Communications. She majored in philosophy and religion and focused her Take 5 year on researching the way American media covers current events in the Muslim world. An aspiring journalist, Dukmasova has freelanced for Rochester Magazine, the Phoenix New Times, and the Daily News Egypt in Cairo. She also maintains two blogs, one devoted to culture and society in Russia ( and the other to photography (


Photo courtesy of Maya Dukmasova.