USC Union Faculty Spotlight

Our fifth faculty spotlight highlights Helene Maire-Afeli. Dr. Hélène Maire-Afeli was born and raised in Nice, France. After completing her undergraduate degree in France majoring in Chemistry, Biology, Biochemistry, and Human Nutrition, she came to the USA. Dr. Maire-Afeli went to Kansas State University, where she got her doctoral degree in Analytical Chemistry. While at KSU, she taught undergraduate Chemistry and did research. Her family moved to South Carolina, and she started teaching at UofSC Union.

  • What is your role at UofSC Union, and how long have you worked here?

 I have worked at UofSC Union since Summer 2010. I started as an Instructor/Laboratory Manager. I was teaching laboratories for Chemistry and Biology, as well as lectures in Chemistry. Then I became an Assistant Professor of Chemistry/Laboratory Manager. Nowadays, I exclusively teach undergraduate Chemistry (face-to-face, online both synchronous and asynchronous, and two-way video when possible).

  • What brought you to UofSC Union?

 My husband started Graduate School at UofSC Columbia, so I looked for a position in the area. I liked our small campus right away. It is wonderful to interact with faculty from all departments, and to have small classes.

  • What is your favorite part of your job?

What I like the best about my job is to help my students be academically successful. I like how I get to know them. I enjoy interacting with them in the classroom and outside the classroom. My favorite thing is when I see the pride on a student’s face when she/he finally solved a tough chemistry problem by her/himself.

  • What is the most challenging part of your job?

I think the most challenging part of my job is that it is extremely time consuming. There is no end to looking for more ways to present the information or activities to illustrate it. Also, some chemistry courses use mathematics. So, it is tricky to teach it to students who have not yet mastered the math knowledge they need to solve problems.

  • What do you want students to know about your classes?

There are many different types of Chemistry courses. Some are super fun like Forensic Chemistry or Chemistry in Modern Society. They are all very informative and provide useful knowledge about the world we live in. Some have no math involved! All have great laboratories such as the toxicology lab where students run chemical tests to identify a powder found at a crime scene, or the electroplating lab where students decorate their own jewelry by using electricity and metals.

Nice, France
  • What are your hobbies/interests (other than making UofSC Union great)?

I particularly like to travel, learn about other cultures, and try new foods. I love reading. I read A LOT, in different languages and various genres. I enjoy singing, cross-stitching, and number painting. I get so focused that I can think of nothing else: a bliss!

  • What is the most helpful advice you’ve received?

The first one was from my mother: “Study for yourself, get your own career, always be financially independent, so you will always be free”.

The second one was from my father. The rough translation of it is: “Always put in your best effort. If you do not get a good return on your effort investment today, you will tomorrow”.

  • You’ve taken students on study abroad trips previously. What do you think is the value in studying abroad and would you recommend it?

The value of studying abroad is priceless. On top of making you more competitive on the job market, especially with the big international companies we have in SC, the gained experiences will provide you with insights about your fellow human being brothers and sisters as well as yourself. Studying abroad provides a lifetime of memories, and some fun “lost in translation” situations. It will undoubtedly improve your palate, and open your eyes and heart to the world. I think one does not have a complete college experience without studying abroad. Just do it!

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