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7 Questions with New Faculty Member Olga Dietlin

December 4, 2020

Wheaton College welcomes Olga Dietlin, who is serving the College as Assistant Professor and Program Director of Higher Education and Student Development.

News Story VariantName: Olga Dietlin

Education:

M.S., Mental Health Counseling, Palm Beach Atlantic University, 2017

Ph.D., Higher Education, The University of Toledo, 2004

M. Ed., Higher Education, The University of Toledo, 1997

Teacher Specialist, Russian and English Languages and Literature, T. Shevchenko National University of Luhansk (formerly Eastern Ukrainian University), 1996

1. What was your favorite class in college? Why?

When I was an undergraduate student, I enjoyed all my literature courses, whether it was a class about a particular time or a survey of the national literature. Living within the closed political borders, the literature, even in its heavily censored version, took me on thousands of journeys – across the world, in the past, and into the depths of the human heart.

2. Before Wheaton, what were you doing?

I worked at Palm Beach Atlantic University (PBA), a non-denomination Christian university in South Florida, for the last 16 years, most recently as a program co-chair for the PBA’s Counselor Education Program and faculty champion of the Student Affairs and Higher Education concentration. Before becoming a full-time faculty member, I served in various roles in student affairs.

3. What big question are you trying to answer through your work?

I have had two academic “homes”: counseling and higher education (student affairs). Both fields produce much writing on the notion of identity. Identity is seen as socially constructed and fluid, created and recreated in response to and in interaction with the cultural and environmental contexts. Prominent higher education author Marcia Baxter Magolda wrote a book for today’s college students titled Authoring Your Life: Developing Your Internal Voice to Navigate Life Challenges. Self-authorship, according to Baxter Magolda, is the only way to arrive at one’s authentic self. On the other hand, C. S. Lewis wrote this about one’s search for identity: “Your real, new self (which is Christ's and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him.” The big question for me is how to become the disciple of Christ and also how to help prepare disciples and disciple-makers during these times of epic cultural shifts.

4. What has kept you busy during the pandemic?

Ironically, one research project I started several years BEFORE the pandemic explores the ways of connecting authentically online. The study involves faculty and students in online programs who answer our questions about what it means to know and to be known; to express care and to be cared for in online settings. The work on this project, along with teaching online and overseeing online learning for my three children has kept me busy.

5. Do you get butterflies the night before the first day of school?

I still get butterflies before EACH of my classes, in person or online. Each new class is a journey, and a process, and I am always excited to meet the students for the first time or to teach a new course. I am grateful for the way academic life presents new beginnings every semester.

6. What would you have liked to tell the freshman version of yourself about going to college?

My freshman version of myself was a busy girl who strived to please others, who strived for ever-elusive excellence and perfection. I would have told her exactly what C. S. Lewis says in the quote I already shared: “Look for Christ, and you will find yourself.”

7. When you’re not teaching or researching, what do you like to do?

Travel. Many years ago, after following an overwhelming list of tourist attractions, I finally sat down with a cup of coffee in a courtyard of Victoria and Albert (V & A) Museum. It is at that exact moment that I concluded, with some embarrassment, that this was my absolute favorite part of the entire trip. I love to travel with my husband and three children, but away from the big attractions, enjoying the small pleasures, like a walk in the mountains or around a lake, and a cup of good coffee with some local pastry.

Baxter Magolda, M. B. (2017). Authoring your life: Developing your internal voice to navigate life’s challenges.  Sterling, VA.

Lewis, C. S. (2001). Mere Christianity. HarperCollins.