Agriculture professor a natural choice for teaching

By Maria Singh

Cal Poly Pomona’s College of Agriculture appointed a new assistant professor to its Human Nutrition and Food Science Department.

Marcus Elam joined CPP’s Human Nutrition and Food Science Department to further educate students about fitness and exercise, healthy eating and to further his passion for teaching students to live a balanced lifestyle.

“I really always enjoyed teaching,” said Elam. “In fact, I used to do substitute teaching a long time ago. In high school I taught algebra. I used to do like these bible studies, and I helped teach that too, and I just noticed that I’m kind of good at this. I enjoy being up there in front of the class.I enjoy the research, but I also really enjoy the teaching.”

Elam described his teaching style as down to earth and relatable. He also tries to make his classes funny for students to enjoy.

Elam’s educational background is nothing short of extensive.

The new faculty member holds a doctorate and a master’s degree from Florida State University. Prior to pursuing graduate school, Elam completed his bachelor’s degree in exercise science at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.

When Elam was younger, his interest in health sciences began with his admiration of his father’s trophies that were garnered from various power lifting and strength training competitions.

As he grew older, the soon-to-be professor expressed interest in classes like sports nutrition and decided it resonated with his interests. Elam later became a manager at FedEx, and though the job supported him well financially, he knew it was not his calling and pursued graduate school.

In graduate school, Elam started working with his professor in the areas of aging, cardiovascular problems and obesity.

Once Elam learned about the job opportunity at CPP, he thought it would be the perfect opportunity. Elam hopes that students will learn from his class from not only an educational perspective, but as an outlook on life.

“I was interested in seeing what it’s like in California,” said Elam. “It’s a great university, and there’s a great program here. I tried it out and it worked out great. ” But one thing is to always be humble. That’s something my professor always emphasized. Also, have a clear pinpoint or a goal. Always keep a goal you can strive to.”

Regina Luk, a fifth-year dietetics student, provided advice that can help further a passion for healthy living among students for new professors like Elam.

“How a teacher helps is that they have a lot of experience in so many different types of hospital settings or maybe outside of the offices,” said Luk. “So, they can give advice as to what it’s like in the real world. Just be passionate about your subject and make sure [students] understand and try to be able to reach out to them.”

Mary Holz-Clause, dean of CPP’s College of Agriculture, believes that it is important for professors to take student feedback into consideration.

“It’s really important that teachers particularly listen to what the students are telling them,” said Holz-Clause. “And the feedback, when they’re doing the teacher evaluations, is to take the feedback really seriously. Ask students on things that need clarification or areas that they haven’t communicated effectively. It’s not just giving information; it’s receiving information back and listening to what the students say and making sure that what you’re teaching is appropriate for where they are.”

The process to recruit a new faculty member is a thorough process. Potential candidates are asked to schedule either a webcam or phone interview.

During that time in the process, the search for a professor is narrowed down from around 10 candidates to four or five individuals. These individuals are invited to campus to conduct a personal interview and a public presentation. The search committee at CPP then decides which candidate is best qualified for the position.

Holz-Clause shared her thoughts on why Elam was chosen for the position at the Human Nutrition and Food Science Department.

“He provided a very unique perspective on nutrition,” said Holz-Clause. “His focus has always been on nutrition and athletic performance. I think he’s an excellent mentor, particularly for students. ” He’s an example of persistence and dedication and staying true to your dream. And I hope that he would mentor and give that information to other students.”

Marcus Elam

Maria Singh / The Poly Post

Marcus Elam

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