Lecturer shares her inspiration


With a 4.9 out of 5 overall rating on ratemyprofessors.com, one lecturer is known for her engaging lectures, respect for students and inspirational quality.

Celia Cuddy, a part-time lecturer in the Department of Social Work, discussed kindness, her work and superheroes with the Cynic.

The Vermont Cynic (VC): Do you have a life philosophy?

Celia Cuddy: The Dalai Lama was once asked “what is your religion?” and he just said “kindness.” I think that sounds pretty good to me.

VC: When did you know you wanted to be a social work professor?

CC: As a kid, I felt very drawn toward helping people, and in college I started becoming politically active in human rights and social justice work.

I learned about social work from a mentor in a battered women’s shelter that I worked in. She was so wise and feminist and ethical. I came here and loved UVM’s master’s program for its orientation to activism and social justice.

Pretty soon after I graduated, I was invited to start teaching the introductory class here. It’s the greatest blessing.

VC: What’s your inspiration?

CC: The people that the social work students eventually work with in their internships and after they graduate. People with disabilities or [who] are homeless or who have survived trauma. They are the ultimate beneficiaries of what I do.

The ones who inspire me are the ones I’ll never actually meet.

VC: What superhero would you be?

CC: Of course Xena, Warrior Princess. Who else would it be?

VC: If you could be any kind of social policy what would you be?

CC: Any kind of policy that holds humanity and dignity at its center.

VC: Do you have any other passions besides helping individuals in need?

CC: Being a mom is really central. I love long walks, meditating, gardening, yoga and cooking.

VC: What’s your favorite part of UVM?

CC: The greenhouse. I’m all about the greenhouse during this time of year.

VC: What do you hope your students will get out of your classes?

CC: I would want them to gain a heightened awareness about the issues and problems going on in our community and more generally, a heightened awareness about people’s vast ability of resilience and strength.

A deepened compassion for people in those situations and tapping into the possibilities of how they could help.

VC: If you could be a decade wrapped up into one person, what decade would you be?

CC: My daughter would say the ‘60s. She calls me a hippie. If you asked me, I’d say whatever moment I’m in now.

VC: Why are you so awesome?

CC: We all are I think. I’d say it’s a part of our basic humanity.