A Chat with IMSA’s Beloved Biology Teacher, Dr. Anjur

Dr. Anjur pictured second from the left with other IMSA students. Source: IMSA

After being a teacher at IMSA for over 15 years, Dr. Sowmya Anjur is officially retiring this year. To talk about her retirement and career at IMSA, The Acronym sat down with her to ask a few questions. Here is what she had to say in an interview with Max Chen. 

How would you describe your experience at IMSA?

Dr. Anjur: It’s hard to put it into a few words, but the best part of IMSA for me has been the students. Working with them, encouraging them, and listening to their stories. Also, trying to help them make sense of things, such as time management, was the best part. IMSA’s been a second home for so long, it’s going to be very difficult for me once I leave here, but I think it’s time for me to go. So yes, that’s the best part of IMSA for me. I will also miss the camaraderie with my colleagues, but for the most part, it’s going to be the students that I will miss the most. 

How do you think IMSA has changed during your tenure as a teacher?

Dr. Anjur: I joined IMSA 18 years ago, in 2005, and I have seen six principals and five presidents come through, so of course, with each of them, there were some changes implemented. IMSA has changed a lot over the years, but most recently, it seems like IMSA has changed quite a bit. It is hard to pinpoint any one thing as the cause, but rather it’s a combination of things including having to deal with CoVID, a brand new administration, and some other things. 

Follow-Up – Do you like these new changes or do you think it was better before?

Dr. Anjur: It was easier before, definitely. The new changes such as CoVID have made it more difficult for faculty to do our work and I’m sure that the students feel that way too because a lot of them have told me the same thing. The main change is that we are still recovering from CoVID and have to build up to what we were like before. 

What do you think are your biggest accomplishments and regrets at IMSA?

Dr. Anjur: I’ve never really thought about this, but I think my biggest accomplishments have been helping the students. And when I say helping students, I don’t mean the whole student body. Many kids needed help. They needed to be listened to, they needed a little bit of encouragement, and they needed to know that the teacher was not biased in any way. They also needed to know that they could be confident in themselves and be the best that they could be. So I think I did help a lot of students that way. As for regrets, just that I won’t be able to do it for a while. 

How do you think your absence will affect the SIR office and Biology here at IMSA?

Dr. Anjur: Well I’m sure they will function well in my absence. SIR has been my passion for the past three years. I enjoy working with the students and helping them with the projects. The administrative work was not as much fun, but it was nice to be able to arrange my time to stay on top of things. The six of us made a good team this year and were able to substantially increase student enrolment in SIR. Next year, there will be a new director for SIR, so I think things will change quite a bit because there will be two faculty members working with the director, as opposed to four faculty members this year and two faculty members the year before. 

In biology, when I started, we had a team of five teachers, which became four at some point along the way. Now the biology team is busy with interviews trying to hire a new biology teacher to replace me. I’m not trying to be boastful, but I think the way that my absence will be felt the most in biology will be as the teacher of the Pathophysiology class, because it is a very popular class, and I have implemented many changes in the class over the last 10 years to make it student-driven. Students do several hands-on projects and can demonstrate their understanding in different ways, so there’s no stress. Having a stress-free classroom is important because students can learn new things. I have also listened to my students and incorporated their suggestions into my class to make it an optimal environment for them. Having been here for a long time, I also know where to find certain materials and equipment if the biology teachers need them!

Do you have any parting words of wisdom for students at IMSA?

Dr. Anjur: Believe in yourself. Be confident that you can do things and don’t listen to people who tell you that you can’t do it, or that it’s not meant for you. Always trust yourself, and ask for help from those people who can help you to achieve what you want to do. And if other people say you can’t do it, then just ignore them. You can and will succeed, you just have to find your specific path to do this.

About the Author

Max Chen
Max Chen is a junior at IMSA who lives in 01 D-wing. He is from Champaign and is very excited to serve as a Staff Writer for The Acronym. Outside of writing, he likes to play guitar, tennis, and videogames.

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