Ashford October Faculty of the Month: Dr. Susan Sasiadek
Editor’s Note: This month we continue our series highlighting faculty favorites based on feedback from Ashford students and alumni.
Dr. Susan Sasiadek has always been motivated to perform. As a young girl with Broadway dreams, she routinely played the piano and sang in front of her brother and a roomful of stuffed animals. Inspired by her grandmother, a music teacher, Dr. Sasiadek grew up pursuing her passion for vocal performance. She was a participant in the regional Miss America Competition in New Mexico, and in 1988, she was awarded a full scholarship in performance to Western New Mexico University.
“This not only helped build confidence in my singing, but started my long journey of higher education,” she says.
Despite struggling with a learning disability and advice from a high school guidance counselor to enter the workforce in lieu of college, Dr. Sasiadek set her sights on earning a doctorate. She went on to become the first in her family to graduate college, earning a B.A. in vocal performance from the University of Arizona, two master’s degrees in business administration and organizational management from the University of Phoenix, and a PhD in organization and management from Capella University.
While working in the private sector for companies like McKesson and US West Communications, Sasiadek felt drawn to academia. In 1998, she landed her first job in her chosen field at the University of Phoenix Nevada Campus. Shortly thereafter, she moved on to become one of the top three enrollment advisors at the school’s Southern Arizona campus. Then, in her first year of instructing at Virginia College, Sasiadek earned the student-voted “Teacher of the Year” title.
“I loved working with students, managing projects, and helping the community,” says Dr. Sasiadek. “There was no doubt that this is where I was meant to be — working in higher education.”
Getting to Know Dr. Sasiadek
Today, Dr. Sasiadek lives with her daughter in Tucson, Ariz., and works as an associate professor in the Forbes School of Business & Technology at Ashford University, where she has taught since 2007. Here she shares her thoughts on professional and personal accomplishments, teaching strategies, inspirations, and time-saving techniques.
Dr. Susan Sasiadek celebrates at commencement with a colleague.
Ashford: What are some of your most rewarding professional achievements so far?
Dr. Sasiadek: As chair for the Program Review Self Study Report for the Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration, I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Mike Reilly, the previous executive dean of the Forbes School of Business and Technology, as well as Dr. William Woods, a professor I had long admired at the Clinton campus. Although I was challenged at first with this project, I learned a lot about Ashford University, the Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration program, met a lot of great people along the way, and learned a lot about myself. The final result was a dynamite plan that we accomplished as a team.
Another achievement is the impact I have had on our students. Our students are challenged with factors like family, work, health, elderly parents, military, and disabilities. Having the opportunity to spend six weeks with students on a topic I love, then see them share what they learned or how much they valued the class is not only rewarding, but what I consider to be my greatest achievement.
Dr. Susan Sasiadek and her daughter.
Ashford: In what ways do you incorporate your real-world experience into the classroom? What are some tools or methods you use to engage with online students?
Dr. Sasiadek: I include videos in my announcements and guidance to help illustrate points from a visual perspective. I also ask questions based off experiences in my own work history, such as layoffs, buyouts, and mergers. By asking questions, students have to analyze versus me just telling them information. I also share reading recommendations and sometimes incorporate elements into the discussions as they apply.
Ashford: What projects most excite you in your current role?
Dr. Sasiadek: I love being a member of the MBA program with the Forbes School of Business and Technology. I work with amazing people that challenge and inspire me. The ability to be creative and share ideas on ways to improve the program excites me.
It is also an honor to be serving in my second term representing the faculty of the Forbes School of Business and Technology as a Senator in the Faculty Senate.
My current projects include the development of the entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship class, in addition to applying with Dr. Woods to present to the IACBE conference on Innovation in the Classroom.
Dr. Susan Sasiadek with her parents.
Ashford: Who are some of your biggest influences or inspirations?
Dr. Sasiadek: I have been influenced and inspired by many people throughout my life. Erin Gruwell is a teacher that started out in Long Beach working with kids that were challenged for many reasons. Through her perseverance and determination, they went on to become the “Freedom Writers.”
I was also inspired by Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama and how they were confronted with the worst of humanity and still found good and went on to change the world through their teachings of peace and love.
Students continue to inspire me every day. Some students I have cried with as I heard their stories, and other students, I share their celebrations as they reach milestones in their life.
My parents and grandparents also played a vital role in who I am today.
Dr. Susan Sasiadek, center child, playing piano with her grandmother while her mother, left, and extended family listen.
Ashford: What are some of your interests outside of the office?
Dr. Sasiadek: I really enjoy DIY projects, like putting together furniture, painting a room, or redecorating a space. A hobby that I would love to turn into a business after I retire is photography. I love taking pictures of animals and landscapes. Lastly, I have a mini zoo at home and really enjoy spending time with my animals.
Ashford: Do you practice any time management routines?
Dr. Sasiadek: I often find myself saying ‘don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.’ I write down all that I must accomplish that day and cross the items off as they are completed. Sometimes I may have to work late into the night to accomplish everything, but this goes back to my motto.
Dr. Susan Sasiadek accepting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Northern California Woman of the Year award.
Ashford: Can you describe some of your most memorable personal achievements?
Dr. Sasiadek: Completing my PhD was one of my greatest achievements. I worked very hard to get there despite my learning disability.
Other achievements include adopting my daughter, working with the foster care system through the challenges of children that are abused, neglected, and have experienced trauma. Many of these kids will forever have a special place in my heart.
In 2000, I was a candidate for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Northern California Woman of the Year. I raised a lot of money to support a young boy, Zachary, who was diagnosed with Lymphoma. This was memorable to me as it not only made a difference for this young boy and his family, but I had the opportunity to work with a lot of wonderful people.
Ashford: Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
Dr. Sasiadek: I am truly blessed to have a job doing what I enjoy. Ashford is my family, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this great institution.