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Faculty discuss their free time

December 6, 2018

The Student Voice is excited to revive a staff hobby column, where we showcase UW-River Falls staff and faculty members with interesting hobbies or pastimes. It's an attempt to make staff more approachable to students, as well as a place for staff to show off their accomplishments.

If you're interested in having your interesting hobbies showcased, contact reporter Kacey Joslin at Kassaundra.Joslin@my.uwrf.edu.

This month’s noteworthy staff members include Robin Murray and Desireé Wiesen-Martin.

Robin Murray shares her pastimes. (Photo by Kacey Joslin)

Robin Murray is a professor of Theater Arts and the department chair of Stage and Screen Arts. She is also the director and technical director of theater, with an avid interest with the stage.

“I wear a lot of different hats,” Murray admits. “When I have free time, I actually end up going to professional theater and see shows. When I can, I sneak off and go to New York and try to get there every other year to see shows there.”

Her favorite shows are Hamilton, The Great Comet of 1817 and War Horse. “I like going and seeing shows that I didn’t have anything to do with and reaping all of the emotional information and being inspired.”

Her affection for theater arts isn’t unfounded. Murray is a costume designer. “That’s been my specialty all along when I started school as a theater major, I just liked doing costumes.”

She designed for UWRF for 17 years before she was assigned the department chair. Her most recent costumes were showcased at A Year With Frog and Toad. “I miss it, but it’s a lot of work without much support. It was fun to do it again. I like the process, I like working with other people and collaborating to get this product.”

For current or future students studying theater arts, Murray has a bit of advice: “Go to see lots of shows, read plays. Be in them, but don’t be in so many you don’t have time to see shows as well, because you need to learn and see what’s all out there.

Desireé Wiesen-Martin discusses her passions (Photo courtesy of Desireé Wiesen-Martin)

Desireé Wiesen-Martinis an assistant professor in the Sociology, Criminology, Anthropology Department. She also teaches a "First Year Adventure" course in the College of Arts and Science.

Wiesen-Martin thinks her pastimes are "pretty common."

“A lot of what I do revolves around my work and my relationship with my husband and my child. School takes up a lot of my time and I love it. The work that I do is the work that Iwant to be doing.”

Her passions largely revolve around her career, her family and her community. Wiesen-Martin is heavily involved with her daughter’s charter school. “I’m now a chair of their site council, a board that helps to guide and oversee the school to make sure they’re meeting the goals of their charter,” Wiesen-Martin said.

She’s also an active member of the parent-teacher organization. “I like going in and making sure that not just my daughter, but her school and her community are getting what they need. I like being a force to help with that.”

On campus, professors are required to be civically engaged. Wiesen-Martin is on the board of directors for St. Croix Valley SART (Sexual Assault Response Team) and connects that experience with her teachings.Wiesen-Martin teaches a CAS First-Year Adventure course titled #MeToo: Understanding Sexual Assault from a Scholarly Perspective. Along with Doctor Melanie Ayres from the Psychology department, Wiesen-Martin is researching sexual assault, knowledge of sexual assault reporting and perception of sexual assault services here on campus. “This is my community and I enjoy being here. I want to make make sure the research that I’m doing will mean something and potentially be able to help in some way,” she said.

When asked about balancing community involvement and work with her personal life, Wiesen-Martin recalled, with humor, a conversation with her daughter about this very issue. “I told her, ‘The things that I do hopefully make your world a better place, and you need to recognize that even if you’re seven.’ This is what I do -- there are times where you are always going to feel like you’re neglecting something. It’s taken me a while to recognize that.”

Wiesen-Martin organizes her priorities as follows: “Family first, job second, other responsibilities, then me -- that is how I’ve done it. But while I also see that all of those other areas benefit me as well, I came to the conclusion that I needed to have some time for myself,” Wiesen-Martin said.

She has joined a book club and loves to read. “A lot of what I read is fantasy genre because the work I do is very realistic and it’s harsh. Sometimes I don’t want to read about real-life, or I read concepts that are applicable to real life but are happening to werewolves and zombies. My husband accuses me of having 'old people hobbies'. I also cross-stitch,” she added.

“Cross-stitching,” she explained. “Is just following a pattern. It’s almost like embroidery. For me, it’s relaxing and it’s organized. I also love going to movies and just hanging out with my friends and my family as much as I possibly can,” Wiesen-Martin said.

Work is important, she concluded, but so is finding little things to make yourself happy.

Kacey Joslin is a former student at UW-River Falls.