NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. — The Tiny House Project Team is finishing up construction. Soon the house will become a permanent residence here on campus. Dr. Helen Boylan, who leads the tiny house project, is eager to see it complete. She is a professor here, and has a passion for what she does. Katarina Braun takes us on a journey about Dr. Boylan, and her relationship with Westminster.
The campus has spread the name Dr. Helen Boylan around for many reasons. Dr. Boylan is a Chemistry professor and program coordinator of environmental science and studies. You may have also seen videos or articles about Dr. Boylan as the faculty mentor of the tiny house project. What you may not know about Helen Boylan, is that she is a Westminster graduate. She came to Westminster on a physics scholarship. Like many students today, she had to think about what she wanted to pursue as a major. Dr. Boylan explored the sciences for a while on her scholarship. She eventually decided on a major in environmental science; her minors were in chemistry and physics. On top of her love of science, Dr. Boylan was a part of the volleyball team. In our interview, Dr. Boylan spoke fondly of the sport. She says athletics helped her develop academic discipline.
“It was during the season that I was most on top of my classes because in season you have limited amount of time and so you have to get your work done,” Boylan says.
She smiles as she explains to me how much her team meant to her.
“So you know the the bonds that you create with your teammates as a scholar athlete those can really last and those are really precious to me, so I’m really thankful for that part of my college experience,” Boylan says.
And her undergrad experience left her wanting more. After speaking to trusted professors here at Westminster, Dr. Boylan decided to pursue an advanced degree. She continued her education at Duquesne University; there she received her PhD. It was during her time there that she realized she had a passion for teaching.
“When I look back at my history of employment it seems that I was always doing something that was related to teaching. So my summer jobs in high school I was a lifeguard and I taught swimming lessons and I loved teaching swimming lessons,” Boylan says. “When I was a student here at Westminster I was a grader in the physics department so I was grading papers and doing some tutoring through the learning center. And then as I said I was doing tutoring at Duquesne while I was working on my PhD so I feel like all along the way I’ve always been teaching.”
After she received her PhD, Dr. Boylan took a teaching position at Bethany College. A friend of hers happened to see an advertisement for a Westminster teaching position in a newspaper. Dr. Boylan told me that she sent in her application material, and the rest is history! She says she felt really proud to be welcomed back to her alma mater. And Dr. Boylan loves what she does now. She believes teaching is a two way street. She loves gaining knowledge from students just as much as she enjoys teaching them new things.
“I also enjoy getting to know the students as people um I think that’s one of my favorite things about my job is really getting to know the students. I love working with the students in lab and a little more informal setting,” Boylan says.
The love she puts into her teaching does not go unappreciated, Stephanie Homitz is a senior chemistry major. She has had Dr. Boylan for classes and capstone, and she is very fond of Dr. Boylan.
“Dr. Boylan is probably the person I look up to the most in the Chemistry department just because she is always looking to make better changes um not only in the Chemistry department but at Westminster College,” says Homitz.
Stephanie explains that Dr. Boylan has had a positive impact on her life.
“She has pushed me to stay on track to further my research. She’s pushed me to be a great student. Um and has always supported me with all the decisions I’ve made,” says Homitz.
Dr. Boylan started her journey at Westminster. She was dedicated to her education, and it eventually brought her back here.
“I’m thrilled to be back I loved Westminster as a student. I love it even more as a faculty member and um I feel really grateful to have a job that I love,” says Boylan.
In New Wilmington — I’m Katarina Braun for w-c-n-24-seven.