Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Dana Polanichka

Education: Bachelor’s, Dartmouth College; master’s and doctorate, University of California, Los Angeles.

Previous job: Teaching assistant in UCLA’s History Department.

Why I became an educator: I love students and the process of learning and teaching. I also have always been enthralled with the college experience. As a child, I pretended to be in college. My bedroom served as my dorm room, and I even made homework and schedules for myself! Ultimately, it was in college that I discovered myself and transformed into the person I am today. I want to be part of that journey for students.

What led me to my field: As a history major, I selected “Intellectual and Cultural History of the Middle Ages” to fill a requirement. The class completely captured my imagination. Our study of medieval religious culture, art and architecture ignited a very visceral, inexplicable reaction in me. I quickly decided to pursue a career in medieval history.

Why I chose Wheaton: I knew that if I came here I would grow as a teacher, as a historian and as a person.

Most important lesson I learned in college: Passion-really loving something and engaging with it-is all you need. Discovering my intellectual passion (medieval history and art history) served as a catalyst that eventually put me on the path to success both in college and in my career.

What I want every student to learn: In studying past cultures, I want students to recognize the humanity of all peoples and the commonalities we all share, while respecting the vast cultural, social, intellectual, political and economic differences that separate us.

What few people know about me: As an adolescent I was a science geek and completely obsessed with the study of viruses and hoped to become a level-four virologist.