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UVM Is: Joan “Rosi” Rosebush Guiding Students to Succeed

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Joan “Rosi” Rosebush has a knack for helping students work through complex math problems and even the complexities of life.

Whether it’s assisting a student who is experiencing trouble with calculus, anxiety about exams, relationship problems, or disciplinary action, Rosebush makes herself readily available by offering guidance and support.

Rosebush, a senior lecturer in the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, has been teaching pre-calculus, calculus, and advanced placement calculus at UVM since 1996. On her UVM profile, she lists her area of expertise as “Preventing Mathematics Anxiety.”

Ranked by UVM Bored in 2014 as one of the 26 Favorite Professors at UVM,  Rosebush studied elementary education at SUNY Cortland and planned on teaching kindergarten for a career. But her aptitude for math was obvious to others. Even her college advisor suggested she change her major from elementary education to math and pursue a lucrative career in the business world.

“I asked him, ‘Can you promise me that I’ll love to go to work every day?’” she says. “He couldn’t, and here I am, teaching and loving what I do.”

Eventually, she earned a master’s degree in mathematics education at St. Michael’s College and joined UVM in 1990 as a supplemental instruction specialist.

Today, in her third-floor office overlooking Colchester Avenue, Rosebush’s popularity around campus is evident as gifts ranging from cards and photos to mugs and candles line her bookshelves. Rosebush says she can’t imagine being anything other than supportive of students.

“If a student gets in touch with me about something going on in their life—even if it’s not a student in one of my classes—I’m going to make myself available,” she says. “What if it’s something that feels like the end of the world to them? I can’t risk not being there.”

In the UVM Bored’s 26 Favorite Professors survey, Rosebush was described as:

  • “The only professor I have ever met who is willing to meet with you at 10 p.m. or later.”
  • “She cares about how students do in her class.”
  • “She is always available to her students and cares about their success.”

Student Luke Dascoli, who has taken calculus courses with Rosebush, describes her as kind and one of the most genuinely helpful teachers he’s ever had.

“She is incredibly funny and clever, and uses humor to bridge the student-teacher gap in an unparalleled way. She is 110 percent available to help students in and out of the classroom in any way she can,” he says “Whenever a student has a question, she always makes sure to fully explore any of their confusion, and clearly communicates where they had gone right, as well as where they need to re-examine their ideas and work in order to fully understand a concept in calculus.”

For sophomore Cammy Schiller, Rosebush is the person she turns to whenever she needs guidance.

“I always have questions about life and math, and Rosi is always the person I go to,” Schiller says. “Rosi makes unbelievable connections with her students due to the fact that her heart is larger than life itself.  She has this amazing way of knowing when it’s the right time to joke with her students and when it’s the right time to be compassionate or serious. She just seems to know.”

Rosebush says she would rather be available to students than have them lose sleep over academic anxiety or personal problems.

“I don’t think of helping students as an obligation, but rather just something you do in this job,” she says. “I have plenty of faults, but not being available isn’t one of them.”

-The “UVM Is” series celebrates University faculty, educators, and the campus community.

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