Arriving at University Hall, public speaking professor Patrick Hill orders a chamomile tea with a dash of honey and looks at his watch to check the time. It reads 12:55 p.m. Walking up to the second floor, he dodges students who have their heads down and eyes glued to the screens of their phones. He then walks into the classroom with his tea in hand, ready to start class.
The classroom is filled with chatter and laughter coming from all around the room. Once a few students have walked in, there is a static shock shared between everyone that causes multiple conversations to emerge between students. Meanwhile, Hill stands behind the podium preparing for class.
There is a feeling of tranquility among the students. The classroom is an environment that they feel comfortable enough in to converse with friends and participate in class discussions. Many believe that the environment of the classroom is a representation of Hill, who allows his students to vocally express their opinions and views.
“It is a general education course, which means I get a [complete different range] of students,” Hill said. “I love that because it brings a dynamism to the class that you don’t have [in other classes].”
The energy of the classroom is a large part of how Hill teaches his classes. He mentioned that students create a bond of having each other’s backs. He recalled a moment when a student had forgotten to discuss an important subtopic in her speech. When he had mentioned it to her, another student had come to her defense. The support system among his students is something that Hill is not used to seeing.
Throughout his lectures, Hill also shares stories that catch students’ attention. He helps to establish a personal connection and a comfortable setting for the classroom through his storytelling.
“Professor Hill makes it very easy to be attentive and intrigued during his lessons, especially by his enthusiasm and passion about the topic matter throughout the entire duration of the class,” said freshman fine arts major Maya Idrovo. “I always enjoy the class.”
Hill said that he is simply holding up a mirror to his students and reflecting back at them their own capability. By doing so, he is helping his students become comfortable speaking in front of crowds.
Ava Aulisi, sophomore television and digital media major, mentioned how much she enjoys the environment of the classroom.
“What I like most about professor Hill’s class is his teaching style,” Aulisi said. “It is relaxed, and he gives off positive energy which makes me feel more comfortable when it comes to public speaking.”
Hill never thought about becoming a professor until his friend mentioned it to him. He spent most of his career as an actor and starred in multiple plays, such as “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding,” after receiving a bachelor’s degree in both theater and communications from Avila University in Kansas City, Missouri.
However, after Hill’s friend injured his back, he contacted Hill to help fill in his professor position. Unfortunately, Hill was denied after another person took up the position before he could. Afterward, he pondered with the idea of being a speech professor, which eventually led him to become one.
“I had started out teaching at Passaic Community College and Hudson Community College,” Hill said. “After teaching for a year at both colleges, I landed a job at Montclair State [University]. You put Montclair [State] on the resume and bigger things start happening.”
This year is Hill’s 17th year of teaching.