A chat with a new face of the faculty

Professor Vanita Neelakanta is one of Rider’s new faces.To sophomores, juniors, and seniors starting off a new school year means going back to a familiar place, seeing old friends, and getting into the routines that have been established by previous years.

by Kiera Smith

For freshmen, it means jumping into a whole new situation with new people and finding a new routine that works outside of what they have already learned. This is not just for new students though, it also holds true for new professors. One professor who has just started at Rider is Dr. Vanita Neelakanta of the English department.

Neelakanta was born in India where she received a Bachelor of Arts and Master’s degree in English. In India, the minors are called subsidiaries, but they have the same function as the minors here do.

After she got her Master’s degree, she came over to the United States and received her Ph.D. from Brandeis University in Massachusetts, where she was also a teaching assistant.

“My job was to lead the students in discussions about what we were studying. The classes were so big that the professor couldn’t talk to everyone individually, so they assigned the assistants to do those jobs.”

Besides her teaching assistant position, this is Neelakanta’s first teaching job. She mostly teaches British Literature with a focus on 17th Century Survey, such as Shakespeare and Milton. Her other classes include: a Composition course, Expository Writing and Great Ideas.

“I wanted a school that would give me the feeling of comfort around the other professors, and the students and Rider gave me that. I really enjoy being here,” Neelakanta said.

Neelakanta’s favorite authors are: Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Neelakanta loves to learn new things from her students,
One aspect of teaching that she enjoys most is when her studetns help her look at a piece of literature like she never has before.

“Teaching is my passion and I love to read and discuss literature, so putting those aspects together makes a perfect job.”

Her hobbies Include in these are reading (her favorite book is The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald), poetry (some of her favorite poets are T.S. Elliot and G.M. Hopkins), films, musical theatre and music in general. Specifically she enjoys Jazz and Oldies from the WWII Era.

“I developed a‘secret’habit in college and it’s stuck with me throughout the years,”she said. “I love to watch the Science Fiction channel like ‘Dr. Who’ and ‘Torchwood.’”

Neelakanta has so far enjoyed her experience at Rider and is looking forward to the next semester with enthusiasm.

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