|People on Campus: Beverly Voloshin|
September 25, 2006
English Professor Beverly Voloshin has made SF State's Office of Academic Honors and Scholarships a worthwhile investment for the University. Since the office was established in 2001 with Voloshin as faculty coordinator, students have garnered a wide range of prestigious national honors often reserved for so-called "elite" universities.
"It is professors like Beverly Voloshin who exemplify the real spirit of SFSU by supporting not only the regular students, but also the students taking the road less traveled, by reaching out and helping us get the tools we need to succeed at whatever path we choose," said Rebekah Enoch, an international relations major who this spring became the second SF State student to win a Harry S. Truman scholarship.
Noting the intensive application process, Voloshin provided the encouragement and support Enoch needed.
"Despite her busy schedule, she always found time to meet with me and even took some of her personal time on the weekends to go over my application by phone," Enoch said. "She was amazingly helpful in identifying the underlying purpose of each part of the application, how to direct my writing to meet the need, where the weaknesses were and how to improve on my work."
Voloshin chose to coordinate the Office of Academic Honors and Scholarships, located in room 573 of the Humanities building, because she wanted to ease college costs for students.
"On our particular campus, we have a lot of hard-working students working their way through college and taking out loans, and it's obvious they would benefit from financial aid," she said. "I am concerned about their debt after they graduate."
Voloshin estimates that several thousand students have worked with the office to get information about scholarship opportunities and assistance with applications. In addition to Enoch's Truman Scholarship, significant awards won with the office's help include an Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship, Morris K. Udall Scholarship, Merage American Dream Fellowship, and National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship -- as well as many international awards for students to study abroad and smaller awards.
"She is incredibly hard-working and conscientious. According to every report, she's doing a wonderful job," said Paul Sherwin, dean of the College of Humanities. "She is enlisting students who otherwise wouldn't know these scholarship opportunities existed."
Voloshin also recently became campus coordinator for the CSU's California Pre-Doctoral Program, which awards scholarships to students who plan to pursue doctorates and careers in academia.
SF State's diverse student population has made teaching enjoyable for Voloshin, who joined the University in 1987.
"We have lots of bright, well-read students who are not afraid to say what's on their minds," she said. "As a result, classes are very stimulating."
Voloshin, who earned her doctorate in English and American literature from University of California, Berkeley, has taught more than 20 courses at SF State. Most frequently, she teaches courses on classic American literature, literature of the English Enlightenment period, 19th century American and British women writers, and modern literary theory and criticism.
Originally an undergraduate philosophy major at University of California, Los Angeles, Voloshin gravitated toward English through readings in her classes. This sparked her research focus on comparisons between philosophy and literature. Her current research explores George Eliot's use of the legend of Medusa and Herman Melville's reading in ancient philosophy.
"Bev is very smart and an extremely sophisticated literary critic," Sherwin said.
Voloshin, who serves as special issues editor of the journal Pacific Coast Philology, counts Eliot, Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Jane Austen and Margaret Atwood among her favorite authors. What draws Voloshin to their writing?
"Partly the complexity, the experimentation with literary form, and possibly the subversive potentiality of their works," she said.
Such aspects are only part of what Voloshin hopes students will gain from her classes.
"Above learning, I hope students learn how to formulate and pose questions for investigation," she said. "After a while, you forget specific things you learn in a course. But you take away habits of mind and things you can learn on your own."
Voloshin grew up in New Haven, Conn., and Phoenix. She now lives in Petaluma.
"It's the terrestrial paradise for me," said Voloshin, who has served on committees for Petaluma's school districts and SF State's Academic Senate and is also a past president of Friends of the J. Paul Leonard Library. "It has a beautiful landscape, no bugs and wonderful weather."
Voloshin started to take up painting about three years ago, after her youngest child began college. The longtime admirer of art describes her paintings as figurative and abstract. Some of her work is on display in room 484 of the Humanities building through Nov. 3.
"I don't read as much as I used to because I like to look at images," she said.
Nevertheless, Voloshin recently enjoyed reading Jonathan Franzen's "The Corrections" -- not to mention the many scholarship applications and opportunities.
-- Matt Itelson
1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132 (415) 338-1111