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The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Prof. teaches, cooks for students”

    Jake Lacey/Arizona Daily Wildcat

Faculty fellow at La Cienega Residence Hall goes all out for her residents. Full meals every Thursday, and occasional pool parties at her own house.
    Jake Lacey
    Jake Lacey/Arizona Daily Wildcat Faculty fellow at La Cienega Residence Hall goes all out for her residents. Full meals every Thursday, and occasional pool parties at her own house.

    A UA professor has a unique way of connecting with students outside of the classroom – she cooks them homemade Thai cuisine.

    Supapan Seraphin, a material science and engineering professor, cooks Thai food for students once a week at Pueblo de la Cienega Residence Hall as part of the Dean of Students Faculty Fellows program.

    Seraphin said the objective of the program is to increase student and faculty interaction outside of class.

    “”We want students to feel more at home,”” Seraphin said. “”But not every faculty fellow cooks. It’s not a requirement.””

    Cooking lunches is a tradition she’s continued since becoming a faculty fellow in 2001 because she thought cooking and eating with students would be a fun way to spend time together.

    Seraphin said she hopes the lunches help freshmen students adapt to the university and allow them to see that not all professors are “”monsters.””

    The group that participates in the weekly lunches calls itself the Cienega Pad Thai club. The lunches are attended by about 30 to 40 people including the hall’s residents and their friends, students who Seraphin teaches and advises and her colleagues, said Muhammed Mukiibi, an environmental engineering graduate student.

    Mukiibi was in one of Seraphin’s classes two years ago, and he has been attending her lunches ever since.

    “”She’s an inspiration to many students,”” Mukiibi said.

    Mukiibi said the lunches have become a great way for students to get advice and help or just to converse with other students. Yesterday, Seraphin made a Thai dish with chicken, carrots, broccoli and mushrooms in a coconut sauce, seasoned with galanca root, tom ka and other ingredients in a Pueblo de la Cienega kitchen.

    “”It’s a break from class and a break from American fatty foods. It’s free, good, healthy food,”” said Charlene Parrish, a public health senior.

    Parrish said her favorite dish made by Seraphin is Pad Thai. She’s been attending Seraphin’s lunches since she began making them at Graham-Greenlee Residence Hall in 2001.

    Students said they often get more out of the lunches than a great-tasting meal.

    Parrish said Seraphin was able to help one of her friends find an internship in Thailand.

    Joanna Emerson, a chemical engineering freshman, said Seraphin taught her how to cook a curry dish that she made for her family during spring break.

    Emerson said it can be beneficial for students and faculty to interact outside of the classroom and office.

    “”You learn better and you learn more and you feel more comfortable asking questions when you are in a relaxed atmosphere, rather than in office hours,”” Emerson said.

    Some students ask her why she doesn’t have her own restaurant, Seraphin said.

    “”I say, are you kidding? With a PhD in engineering?”” Seraphin said.

    Seraphin also plans trips to attend plays, to go hiking and for other outings with students. Sunday she’s hosting a barbecue pool party at her home to celebrate the graduation of her students.

    “”Students are lucky to have someone like her,”” said Alex Cook, an applications systems analyst who works with Seraphin.

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