Steven Byrd, Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese
I think that UNE has a nice balance of teaching, research, and service. It’s not a university of professors solely doing research and distracted from the classroom. We have a culture, especially in the tenure ranks, of trying to maintain the balance between being a good teacher and being there for our students as well as working on our research and partaking in service activities.
I received a faculty mini-grant from UNE to do research on the culinary culture of the Brazilian northeast. For me, it’s the second article in a series of articles. The first article that I wrote was about another state in the southwest of Brazil. Now, I’m looking at the northeast of Brazil because it is an area with a lot of traditional dishes, especially things related to beef. For my research, I spent a month in the city of Hasifi in Brazil this past summer. Hasifi is in the state of Pernambuco, which is where the original sugar plantations began. There are a lot of cattle in the area. There is also a rich tradition of seafood from fisherman, which makes sense because Hasifi is located right on the coast. All of these aspects of the cuisine there were part of my research.
I've taught students at the University of Texas, and I've taught students at the University of New England, and I will take the students at the University of New England ten times out of ten. I really like the students’ demeanor here. They have a particular curiosity and the attitude of a student — they are excited and eager to learn. There is a sense of humility that allows them to be open-minded. They genuinely put effort into assignments and care to turn in their best work. They trust the faculty, and I appreciate their sense of willingness.
I love working with students outside the classroom. I’ve been the advisor for the drama club, UNE Players, for two years now. It comes with its own unique set of challenges, but I love the students’ idealism and energy. They are inspiring. They want to make plays happen no matter the obstacles. I like helping the students and watching them grow through these experiences. It feels rewarding.