Cathy Race: Administrative Assistant in the Psychology Department

Cathy Race, administrative assistant in the Psychology Department, helps coordinate poster sessions,

Cathy Race, administrative assistant in the Psychology Department, is the key contact person for the department, oversees the undergraduate major, is the department's archivist and website moderator.

Q: Cathy, when did you come to Wesleyan? What office did you start in?

A: I started in 1981 in the Alumni Relations Office. Then I transferred to a joint position in the Science in Society Program/Health Education, then the College of Social Studies, and then in 1991 to the Psychology Department.

Q: Do you have a personal interest in psychology or has your interest peaked since you started working with psychologists?

A: My interest in psychology could never peak. I’ve always been curious how the mind works. The field is fascinating. It goes beyond textbooks. The faculty are amazing and the majors are ambitious. I can honestly say I love my job.

Q: Could you touch on some of the department’s highlights?

A: Our faculty have labs and some of the labs are listed on the department’s website. The faculty include students in their research, which is wonderful experience for the students. In the spring we have a poster research presentation, which makes you stand back and just say “wow!” We have a great colloquium series. Recently, changes have been made to the major’s requirements to give students a more global education.

Q: Who are the key people you work with in the office?

A: I work with a great staff, Tina Velasquez Lange is the secretary and Margaret Loomer is the budget/grants coordinator. And I believe I have the best chair on campus, Ruth Striegel-Moore.

Q: What goes on during your 9 to 5?

Cathy Race admires the history of Judd Hall, which now houses the Psychology Department.

Cathy Race admires the history of Judd Hall, which now houses the Psychology Department.

A: I’ve always described myself as the lady who lived in a shoe with all the children (averaging 160 majors, 14 faculty, visiting scholars, research staff), so everything needs to be compartmentalized. To quote Nietzche, “what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger,” I feel I’m strong as bull! And to keep that strength going, you may very well see me at lunch time riding my scooter to the gym to take one of those fabulous fitness classes to help ‘de-stress’ for the second part of the day.

Q: Do you get to know many of the students and their interests?

A: I try to make them feel comfortable and to know I am here for them. It’s about service. They are our future. The faculty are engaging with their students and it extends into the department as a whole. I have a folder in my email labeled “compliments.” It’s a nice reminder of how I’ve been of help.

Q: When is the busiest time of the academic year for you?

A: Always the beginning and nearing the end of semesters.

Q: Where are you from and what did you major in? What brought you to Wesleyan?

A: I’m from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a city girl from a country state. I received an associate degree in secretarial science. I came to Connecticut in the mid 70’s. What brought me to Wesleyan was an ad in the paper. Bill Wasch ’52, P’84 hired me. Bless his heart!

Q: Are you a Packer fan? Do you like cheese curds and Leinenkugles Sunset Wheat?

A: I am a Packer fan, and Wesleyan has a supportive Packer pack on campus, including Frank Marsilli and Lisa Currie. I have a picture of me at Packer game wearing a cheese head hat, or as I call them, “cholesterol heads.” I know less about cheese curds and more about good beer.

Q: You were recently featured in The Middletown Press for celebrating your 20th year teaching water-fitness for the Middletown Parks & Recreation Program. Can you explain what water-fitness is, and why do you do this for the community?

A: We’re in a society where people spend too much time in their heads and neglect their bodies. Strength, flexibility and balance decreases while stress, anxiety, and depression increases. With over 600 muscles in the human body we overuse the same ones. We go to a doctor to take care of us, exercising in the water is taking care of ourselves. I verbally guide them to harmonically move and breathe in a way only the water can provide. The water rejuvenates the body, quiets the mind, awakens the senses, calms the spirit, soothes the soul. It’s sacred and it’s a gift to share and teach.

Q: What are your other hobbies and interests?

A: I’m pretty eclectic. Swing dancing is my passion, mainly west coast swing and Lindy hop. My philosophy is to learn any dance to keep me on the dance floor. After age 50 everything in life is therapy, so enjoy. I used to belong to the performing Connecticut swing dance troupe, The Rhythm Rousers. Like my dad and brother, I’ve taught and performed rope skipping (my brother patented a speed rope call “Super Rope”), I like to juggle, tap dance, love to whistle, practice yoga, meditation and Reiki. I enjoy reading, gardening. I’ve done trapeze work, play piano, ice skate, roller skate. I’m sure I left out something.

Q: Anything else you’d like to say about yourself or working at Wesleyan?

A: It’s wonderful to have a ‘her-story’ here at Wesleyan, to have witnessed so many changes. I feel fortunate. My brother’s wife just had a baby boy! This now makes me an aunt 10 times, and I’m a great aunt 10 times.

Olivia Drake

Olivia (M.A.L.S. '08) is editor of the Wesleyan Connection newsletter and campus photographer. I have two dogs, five chickens and 30 house plants. I like snow, photographing firemen and enjoying "stinky" cheeses. Send me your story ideas to newsletter@wesleyan.edu. 

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