Twenty-five years, or a quarter of a century, that is the amount of time Eileen Seifert, WRD Associate Director of First-Year Writing, has dedicated to DePaul. Seifert and other new members of the 25-Year Club were recently recognized for their service by the Office of Mission and Values. Seifert started at DePaul as a part-time first-year writing teacher in 1985, before she began working full-time as an instructor in 1987.
Seifert said DePaul has changed a lot over the years, particularly in size. She said at one point a dean’s idea of enrolling 10,000 students caused people to describe him as a “dreamer.” Additionally, she said departments were very small when she started and that there were few facilities. However, she said one quality that has remained unchanged at DePaul is a strong sense of community and willingness to help others. “I think that that spirit is something we should all fight to hold on to,” said Seifert.
Certain events and milestones stood out to Seifert upon reflecting on her time at DePaul. In particular, teaching on 9/11 was a day she will never forget. “We didn’t know [if] we should stay, or what we should do in class. I was a freshman in college when Kennedy was assassinated and I remember how that just changed our world, the idea that someone could shoot at a president. It was so overwhelming and I think students were hitting that same kind of ’Oh my God, the world is a lot scarier than I thought’ kind of thing.”
The creation of the WRD department was also significant in Seifert’s career. Of the department today she said, “We’re a very new department and I think we’re still defining our place in the university in relation to English and Communications and what we especially have to bring to the table. I think it is that emphasis on the connecting point between writing and life, writing and purpose, and using writing to create knowledge and make things happen.”
Twenty-five years at DePaul is another milestone for Seifert, but it’s certainly not her last. She said she plans to continue teaching and that she has become very interested in the reflective side of writing. She said she is curious as to how writing affects our outer, practical lives and our internal, emotional lives. She incorporates these themes in her classes and said “I loved teaching [WRD] 300 last quarter; we were able to look at how writing changes you as a person and how it can make an impact on other people.”
Though Seifert likes change, she said she enjoys the same things about teaching now as she did when she first started her career. “Each person is an adventure, it’s never the same. That relationship with the material and the students, and trying to find out what helps them to learn, what helps them to grow as people, it never gets old.”