Jerome Zurek, Ph.D., communication department chair and professor of English and communication, says that in the 36 years he has been teaching at Cabrini College, he has looked forward to coming to work nearly every day.
Over the years, he has continued to learn and develop as an instructor and mentor, and finds inspiration by tapping into the energy generated by his students. In 2005, Zurek was named Carnegie Foundation/CASE Professor of the Year for Pennsylvania.
"I try to assist each student to excel beyond what they would ever believe they were capable of," Zurek says.
Zurek sets an example for his students through his 17-year involvement in service learning.
Zurek works closely with Catholic Relief Services on service learning projects. He initiated the Global Solidarity Network, a national coalition of students and faculty who are passionate about worldwide social justice issues such as immigration, genocide and poverty. He also tutored maximum-security inmates at Graterford Prison for more than 10 years.
Zurek’s passion for social justice issues often makes its way into his classroom. He surprised students on the first day of class when, in an effort to spark discussion about fair trade, he asked two students to exchange the shirts off their backs. The swap resulted in an examination of the shirts’ tags and a lively discussion about fair trade policies.
His students have participated in a video conference with a coffee farmer in Guatemala and an upscale roaster in Minneapolis who purchases the farmer’s beans. His students learned how paying a fair price for products from a developing country can improve lives in that country.
His students also experienced firsthand how coffee farmers in Guatemala earn a fair price for their beans when they visited the country in 2009, and again in 2010.