With the beginning of the new academic year comes a new wave of professors into Castleton’s communication department. The adjacent offices, which had only ever been home to professors Tom Conroy and Roy Vestrich, are slowly beginning to reflect the personalities of new full-time faculty Stephanie Wilson and Michael Talbott.
“It’s a totally different style of teaching,” said Talbott of Castleton’s small class sizes. “I’m thrilled.”
Wilson, a Castleton alumna and who has been an adjunct professor at the college for 11 years, mirrored Talbott’s delight in the position.
“I think this is what I really love to do and what I was meant to do,” she said.
A California native, Talbot said he always had a passion for the world surrounding the silver screen. As a teenager, he was an aspiring film critic and was published by his local San Diego paper for his reviews.
“The way we learn about the world today is through moving images,” he said of the craft.
As an undergraduate student at San Francisco State University, Talbott said he had the opportunity to create many of his own films, but found his true niche in the field of cinema studies. After receiving his bachelor’s degree, he made his leap of faith to the east coast to continue his education at New York University, where he received both his masters of science and Ph.D. in Cinema Studies.
“I didn’t initially know I wanted to teach,” he said of his career path.
In fact, before landing back in the classroom, Talbott said he ran a program to clean and restore old valuable videos. However, he was not enamored with the parameters of a nine-to-five job and found that he missed the college atmosphere. This realization brought him to search for a change of scenery, but this time in a more rural setting.
“I’ve had my fill of big cities,” he said. “I missed that solitude and quiet.”
After a stint as a visiting professor at UVM, Talbott landed the position at Castleton, where he is currently teaching four classes and oversees the film studies minor.
Talbott said he hopes to enlighten and excite students about the importance of film in our lives. Beyond entertainment, he said that the ability to analyze film holds great social and political value that he hopes to reveal in his lessons.
“I’m very politically and socially engaged and I think that’s very critical to a communication degree,” he said.
Senior communication major Andrew Cremins said he is eager to see the impact Talbott will have on Castleton.
“I think he’ll be really good for the department,” Cremins said. “He’s a fresh look.”
As a student a student in Talbott’s Social Activism and Political Action class, Cremins said he believes Talbott will be key in taking the communication department to the next level.
Likewise, sophomore sports administration major Alex Madsen said that in just the first few weeks she has benefited from Talbott’s Media Writing class.
“He knows what he’s talking about and he’s really informative,” Madsen said. “He gives really good feedback and constructive criticism.”
From the positive relationships between faculty and administration to the immense support of athletics and campus activities, Talbott said he is excited to be a part of the Castleton culture and local community.
Mimicking her colleague’s admiration for Castleton’s campus life, Wilson said she more than welcomes the new role at her alma mater.
“Coming here has given me nothing but opportunity,” she said. “I always tell my students that I bleed Spartan green.”
Originally from nearby Brandon, Wilson attended Castleton as a commuter after high school with the intention of transferring after a year or two of college experience.
Those plans changed rather quickly.
“It just all clicked,” she said. “It’s hard not to get sucked in-it’s a great place and it only gets better.”
Soon after her graduation, Wilson moved to Rutland, married and had her first child. Together, Wilson and her husband, Andrew, began a small video production company that has now expanded to include clients from across the nation. With their professional experience, both Wilsons were qualified to apply for adjunct positions at Castleton and were hired to fill separate roles.
As an alumna and with her experience in the field, Wilson said she feels able to connect with her students on a unique level. She also said that the adjunct position opened her eyes to a passion for teaching she never knew she had.
“It came a little slowly, but the light bulb came on,” Wilson said.
The recognition of this newfound passion gave Wilson the incentive to go back to school and further her degree. Shortly after she began her online graduate communication program with a focus in public relations and leadership communications at Marist College, she discovered her degree would be the first of many additions in her life.
After learning of her pregnancy Wilson was also offered the full-time teaching position to take the place of her former professor, Tom Conroy.
“Looking back now, I don’t know how I survived it, but I’m glad I did,” she said.
Wilson took all of the changes in stride and is looking forward to expanding her role this fall and taking on the full position in the spring semester. She said that she is most eager for the opportunity to serve as an advisor to her students and to serve on committees within the college.
“I’m learning from the students everyday,” she said. “I just have the best job ever.”