College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Institute of Applied Agriculture

Meet IAA Faculty—Q & A

Nina LaTassa

In the fall of 2014, the IAA was fortunate enough to welcome five fantastic Oral Communication instructors through the doors of Jull Hall. We'd like you to learn a bit more about each of them! Amy Fisher is the first interviewee of the group. I got the chance to see what she thinks about everything from Steve Jobs to UMD football games. Here's what she had to say!


1) What's one interesting fun fact you learned about one of your IAA colleagues?

Tony is a weekend weather man.

LaTassa is your maiden name.


2) What word or phrase best describes you?



3) If you could meet one famous rhetorical figure/person, who would it be and why?  

I would want to sit down with Maya Angelou and Steve Jobs.  I know, they are completely different people from completely different worlds.   Angelou was so introspective and thought provoking.   Jobs rules the world and so much of it was tied to his ability to reach people via his oratory skills.


4) What's one thing a student of yours taught you? Why was that a teachable moment for you?   

Stereotypes do not belong in the classroom.   As someone who has been teaching for 7 years, I think I'm pretty good at reading students.  It's human nature to stereotype students based on the normal character traits, no matter how much we try not to do so.    But this semester I fell guilty and hard to the stereotypes surrounding "STEM students" at UMD.  It is true that most are extremely academically gifted. However, it's the other parts that surprised me. Many of these students are out going, socially active, and extremely good communicators. 

5) You've been to some of the games here at UMD. What was the most exciting one so far? 

That didn't turn out as I had hoped.  I only made it to the first football game of the season.


6) If life were a series of speeches--the topics of which you got to choose---what topic would you talk about and why?   

  • gratitude and appreciation- It is important for students to understand the importance of gratitude and how to show it.  College can be a stressful time and we often forget about those who helped us along the way.  Showing gratitude to family, friends and teachers is a positive experience for everyone
  • success- defining success is an individual, family and social issues.  Having individuals explore expectations they place on themselves, and those they get from outside sources shape their perception of success. 
  • culture--  While we think of culture as ethnicity, race and religion, it's so much more.  Talking about gender, age, ability, class, geographic region, political views, sexual orientation, able-bodiness, education, and occupation is important.  Having students self-identify their culture starts a process to open their eyes and see the lenses in which they view the world.
  • it's ok to slow down.  We are just too busy and overwhelmed in our lives.  It's ok to reduce some of those things.  You can have fewer goals, a less full calendar and a day off.  You can reserve time for fun and time to take care of yourself.   You should eat and sleep, and find a way to reduce some of the stress school is placing on you. 

7) What is one interesting fact about yourself?

I completed four triathlons! It was 10 years ago, but I did it!

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