Three minutes after lecturing on Cognitive Psychology, closing out the computer presentations, then grabbing her clear tumbler, Dr. Bianca Sumutka takes a seat and cracks her familiar smile. Then comes the ever-present humor.
Sumutka, now in her first full-time year teaching at Queens University of Charlotte, recently relocated with her family to Charlotte from Lynchburg, Virginia, following her husband’s work. The move from Virginia, where she had been teaching at the University of Lynchburg, now puts them at an eight-hour car ride away from Baltimore and the rest of their family. Her husband, Brian Sumutka, is a manager with AXA Life Insurance and now works in the University area.
The art of balancing work and family in Charlotte with two busy kids— daughter, Sophia, in middle school, and son, Andrew, in pre-kindergarten— has not been easy, said Sumutka. She had been teaching part-time at Queens before becoming a full-time professor this school year in the psychology department.
Sumutka received her undergraduate degree in psychology and minor in math and Spanish from Loyola University of Maryland. “I wish I was able to still speak Spanish,” Sumutka said as she reflected on her thought process of choosing which subjects to study. Additionally, Sumutka obtained her masters and doctorate in cognitive psychology from Pennsylvania State University.
A positive side to the Sumutkas’ move has been that the family quickly recognized Charlotte offered more opportunities for children than a small town like Lynchburg did. Donning cleats to leotards, Andrew and Sophia are adapting to the move by joining different extracurricular activities. Andrew can be found on the soccer field using his feet to help his team place the ball in the back of the opposing team’s goal. Sophia faces quick transitions when she must move from counting the beat to a song to grabbing a bat and swinging for the fences.
Having such a busy schedule does not stop Sumutka from giving her best in the classroom.
Students also recognize the great amount of knowledge Sumutka pours into her classes. Tori Henry, 19, a student who has experienced Sumutka’s teaching for two years, enjoys the classroom setting presented to her, mainly because there are not a lot of surprises and the lectures make the classes manageable.
“She makes a lot of jokes!” Henry said, noting that Sumutka’s humor lightens the atmosphere of the class and gets people engaged. Another teaching method Sumutka uses are cartoons to help relate information to something students may be familiar with.
Kaitlyn McIntyre, 19, a student currently taking a class with Sumutka, recognized the easy and quick responses via email that Sumutka offers.
Just like her kids learning new techniques on the field, Sumutka is always ready to discover new ways of thinking and share what she learns.
Written by Tyler Wise. Image courtesy of Postdoctoral Fellow, Haskins Laboratories.