By Valentina Caval
Fiesta! That’s what I thought as a sombrero hat and a rather intimidating stone skull greeted me; I watched my step, careful not to hit anything that might come to life. Walking in, it was my kind of place. Messy, cluttered, and a bit topsy-turvy screams home to someone like me. I carefully moved a pile of papers that appeared to have been launched from one end of the room to the other.
I began to giggle as the atmosphere made me feel more at ease than any I have found myself in. Organized chaos is something only some of us can comprehend. I plopped down on one of the three chairs open and eagerly waited for Dr. Mash to enter his office.
He strolled in wearing a casual suit and a pair of what looked to be real comfortable brown dress shoes. At first glance Dr. Mash already gives away his laid-back charisma, making him one of the most approachable people I have yet to encounter. He raised one eyebrow and gave me a smirk telling me I had his undivided attention.
Dr. Kenneth Mash grew up in Queens, New York. He received his Bachelor’s Degree from Queens College. He dabbled in substitute teaching and worked as a bartender before deciding he wanted to leave the city.
Dr. Mash went further in his studies and received his Masters and Ph. D from Pennsylvania State University. While studying at Penn State, he won a prestigious award on his Masters thesis; Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools gave the award to him. Dr. Mash has now been educating students in political science for eighteen years at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania.
“I have Dr. Mash for American Government and it is seriously one of my favorite classes. His humor and knowledge combined make the hour-and-fifteen-minute-long class fly by,” said ESU junior, Kathryn Bock.
Dr. Mash does so much more than educate students in political science. He believes in helping each student grow as a person. For instance, he has taken students to study abroad in China four times, with the upcoming summer being his fifth time.
“It is a fantastic experience for students. It is relatively inexpensive about $3,000 for four weeks in China; it covers airfare, room, board and food. We stay at Shen Yang Normal University, in the Northeast of China,” said Dr. Mash.
He went on to further explain the extreme difference between Chinese and American culture.
“It is a different kind of experience. It is just a buzz at first. They want to take a picture with you just because you’re Western; It’s like you’re some kind of Hollywood Star,” he explained.
As a political science educator, Dr. Mash believes ESU students should obtain knowledge on current events, especially those affecting them personally.
For example, in recent events at East Stroudsburg University, ASPCUF and PASSHE struggled with contract negotiations. Dr. Mash is Vice-President of ASPCUF and was the chair of the negotiations team and so, therefore, was very involved with said negotiations.
“I took part in negotiating the contract of what is now a tentative agreement. It has to be approved by the Board of Governors of the State System and that will take place the beginning of March,” explained Dr. Mash.
I couldn’t help but wonder about the professors’ side of the debacle and Dr. Mash was willing to share his view, “From our perspective, we watched the other statewide unions, and we saw essentially what they agreed to with the Governor, and since the Governor is a physical conservative, he agreed to a certain package. We thought that when it came to compensation and health care we should get something similar to what they got,” he said.
From East Stroudsburg politics to national politics, who better to talk to than a political expert? For instance, on the issue of gun control, he believes there has to be a way to reach a compromise.
“It just doesn’t seem rational that we can’t find a solution. There should be some middle ground where we can limit certain weapons. Most of the crimes that are committed are done with illegal guns,” he said.
Dr. Mash was open on explaining his views as a liberal when it came to President Obama.
“Although I believe he has faced many barriers, I think he set off to do something which was never going to be possible to do, which is to join the two parties. I think he’s better off now with going around Congress and reaching out to the people to push Congress to do something,” he explained. “It is good that they moved on health care. It is actually a monumental task to get a bill that size done. I believe he has a very difficult job.”
East Stroudsburg University students are always looking for advice when it comes to the final countdown of your college career. Dr. Mash wanted to share with them a few wise words, “Look broadly. Don’t be discouraged and be humble. It is important to work your way up to what you want to be,” he said. “Make the most out of your last semester. Take classes your last semester that will help you improve as a human being. You will never get this chance again.”
Dr. Kenneth Mash is just one of the more than 300 highly credentialed faculty who teach at East Stroudsburg University, a university where the small class sizes allow the students to be a name not a number. The professors at ESU know the students personally and are willing to go above and beyond to help them in reaching the future they strive for. From taking students abroad to creating connections for different job opportunities, the ESU community stops at nothing but the best for its students.
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