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Physics professor spends her free time acting

April 8, 2015

While every student likely knows their professor’s name at UW-River Falls, that is about the extent of their knowledge about who the person teaching them truly is.

Eileen Korenic is a physics professor here at UWRF. She first attended Mount Mary University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she received her bachelor’s degree in biology, chemistry and secondary education. She then got a bachelor’s degree in physics at UW-Milwaukee, and her master’s in physics from the Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester in New York.

Aside from being a professor here at UWRF, she is also an actress and has been acting since she was young. Her favorite field is community theater.

“It started because I thought I was too scared to do it, and when I was in eighth grade we had to do a play. They were going to do a play based on ‘A Christmas Carol,’ and every student in the eighth grade had to be in this play and I was so scared,” Korenic said. “I only had one line to say and I was so scared that I couldn’t get it out, and I thought I can’t go through life like this–I have to take some classes or something to figure out how do I do this. So I took a summer class at the end of the eighth grade, a summer class of how to be an actor.”

She learned the skills of acting during that class and hasn’t been scared since. She realized it was fun and said that anyone who is afraid of something should just face it square-on and try it and realize you can be successful.

She has had multiple roles in shows at UWRF and in the city River Falls.

“When I first started out I was doing things, like, I always for some reason got cast as the old lady, even when I was really young. When I was a teenager that was my first role, to play a grandmother,” Korenic said. ” I did the mother in ‘The Music Man,’ and then I did some really fun things. I got to play Nellie Forbush in ‘South Pacific,’ and then more recently, when Gordon Hedahl was the dean here, College of Arts and Sciences, his specialty is directing and theater, and he decided he wanted to do the play ‘Shirley Valentine,’ which is a one women show. He asked me if I would consider doing it with him. That was so much fun to play like 35 different characters. You take on all their different personalities and their different characters and stances, voices.”

Some of the courses Korenic teaches are astronomy, general physics, optics, science of light and science teaching techniques.