Faculty Profile: Ayanna Williams

Assistant Professor of Psychology Rebecca Shiner knew she wanted to be a psychologist since she was a child. “When I was 12, I found a book about Freud and did a term paper on psychoanalysis,” Shiner said. “I got engrossed in this book. I was interested in what makes each of us different from each other. All throughout high school, I knew I was going to be a practicing psychologist.”Shiner, who graduated from Haverford College with a Bachelors degree in 1990 and later graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Ph.D. in Clinical Therapy in 1998, was highly influenced by two of her graduate advisors. One of her advisors was a Personality Psychologist. “I never thought about studying personality psychology until I had a class with him,” explained Shiner. “I loved the class! I was fascinated by it.”The other advisor studied resilience. “I was inspired by both of them,” Shiner said. “My interests are a combination of both of their [studies].”Shiner was first introduced to the idea of teaching during her graduate studies. After teaching a few classes at the University of Minnesota, Shiner became a full time professor at Colgate in 1999.”I really wanted to be at a liberal arts college,” Shiner said. “I loved that learning environment. I loved doing research, and I loved teaching. I knew I would love it the most if I was teaching smart and motivated students.”Shiner has greatly enjoyed the unique qualities posessed by Colgate students in the classroom. “I have loved teaching here,” Shiner said. “I love working directly with students on research. I enjoy the enthusiasm and creativity the students have in approaching work …What I like best inside the classroom is when I’m able to engage the class in good discussions. That’s fun for me. Those are the times in teaching that I really enjoy the most.”However, Shiner especially enjoys the extensive time she spends with students outside of class. “I would say the vast majority of interaction [with students] has been with the Newman Group,” she said.Shiner and her husband Mark, who serves as the Interim Catholic Chaplin on campus, have two children- Leo, 7 and Sophie, 3. The couple hosts weekly dinners at their house for members of the Colgate community during the summer.Shiner finds being an active member of the Colgate community very important. She serves as a Science Colloquium Co-Coordinator, Residential Life Committee member, Admissions Committee member and has been a faculty sponsor of summer research for three of her six years at Colgate.”Community is very important to me,” Shiner said. “It’s small enough that there is a sense of interconnectedness between faculty and students. It’s important to me to be a part of that community.”Despite her work with Colgate activities, Shiner’s first priority is in the classroom. She hopes to contribute her enthusiasm to Colgate.”It’s important to show how fun it is to be intellectually engaged as a life long pleasure,” she said.