Freshmen attending orientation at Texas Tech University are separated according to college for advising. Students from various colleges walk into the advising office to learn what classes they need to register for before they are sent out on their own to complete the task of registration. Most students meet with someone who works in an office year-round. There is one college on campus, however, that does things a little differently than others.
The College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at Texas Tech has faculty advising, meaning the students are advised by their professors. In CASNR, by the time a student graduates they often consider their professors to be friends.
Sterling Kothmann, a senior agricultural and applied economics major from Mason, Texas, said he likes how the faculty advises the students. There is one professor, however, that has made an impact on Kothmann outside of the classroom. Darren Hudson, professor and Larry Combest Chair in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, is Kothmann’s favorite professor.
“He’s such a good teacher,” Kothmann said. “It makes you want to go to class and listen to him. I learn something every time I go.”
Student Turned Professor
Hudson attended Texas Tech for graduate school and stayed to get his Ph.D. He understands firsthand the impact faculty can have on students, crediting two people for his professional success.
“Dr. Ethridge and Dr. Segarra,” Hudson said. “Those guys probably spent the most time mentoring me and helping me develop my professional ethics.”
Eduardo Segarra, a professor of agricultural and applied economics, spoke very highly of his former student turned colleague.
“He represents what we have always wanted to produce,” Segarra said. “People that are well-trained and objective, do good research and are likely to have an impact on how people look at things. We’re very proud of him.”
Segarra said he considers Hudson as one of the top graduates from the department since he has been at Texas Tech.
“He was a student a long time ago,” Segarra said. “Now he’s a well-regarded faculty member and we treat him as such. But he will always be my student.”
Segarra said some of his favorite things about teaching are being around the students and how it is never the same.
“Every day is different,” he said. “Even if the material stays the same, the students are different. Each and every one of them is unique. You have to tweak it and you have to change it. That’s what I like about this job.”
“I’ve been here long enough I’m beginning to get the kids of my students,” Segarra said. “If I stick around a little longer, I’ll probably get grandkids.”
Although he hopes he has had an impact on his students, there are certain students that have impacted Segarra as well.
Discussions in Class
One of the things Kothmann likes about Hudson’s classes is his teaching method. According to Kothmann, the classes are discussion-based, which he enjoys.
“I think that’s a really effective way to learn,” Kothmann said. “You talk about it with your peers and you talk about it with the professor. You get more involved in class instead of just sitting there falling asleep or listening to a professor ramble about something you have no clue what he’s talking about.”
Kothmann said getting involved in the discussions in class helps to understand the material. He added he appreciates Hudson’s straightforward manner.
“He’s straightforward and honest with you. Other professors beat around the bush about sensitive topics, and he’s very blunt and straightforward with you. That’s my favorite thing about him. There’s nothing that’s fake about him.”
“Our best hope is to teach kids to be open-minded and to continue to learn on through their lives.”
Kothmann said the way Hudson teaches makes him want to go to class. He knows he is going to learn something, which is what drives him to go to class.
“He has a policy where he usually doesn’t take attendance,” he said. “If you want to learn you take what you can get out of that class.
“I never want to miss one. I never want to oversleep or skip any of his classes, because I feel like I gain the most out of being in his classes,” Kothmann said. “If you want to get your money’s worth, you’ll go to class.”
Success After the Classroom
One of the big lessons Hudson has learned since becoming a professor is that it is OK if a student does not know all of the material he has covered throughout the semester. For Hudson, advising and teaching students is about more than just what is taught out of a textbook. He said he is working daily to produce quality students from the department.
“There are things they need to know before they leave and there are other things that are probably going to come to them, and that’s OK,” Hudson said.”Our best hope is to teach kids to be open-minded and to continue to learn on through their lives.
Kothmann said Hudson is his favorite teacher.
“He stays after class and talks to you about ‘What’s going on in your life, and what classes are you in?’ It’s more than him trying to get you to understand the material you’re covering in class,” Kothmann said. “He’s there for you.”
For many students, it is important that teachers make them feel like more than just a seat-filler. A good teacher looks forward to going to class every day to see their students to teach them how to succeed, not just in the classroom, but also in life. That is something that sets CASNR apart from other colleges.
Kothmann said the community in the college is like a tight-knit family. Professors like Hudson who ask how you’re doing who make a difference in the lives of their students.
“I want to have had the impact on the students to be good people,” Hudson said. “Not smart, not great economists or whatever, but just good people; they make a contribution and a positive contribution in their own way. That I’ve somehow equipped them or motivated them to think about the world in a way that they do that.
“I’d call that being successful.”