Interview with Dr. Joanne Quarfoth

Dr. Joanne Quarfoth is a favorite professor among many students here at St. Kate’s. She has been with us since 1983 but her journey began at the University of Minnesota where she earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Child Psychology, Summa Cum Laude. Dr. Quarfoth then went on to earn her Master of Arts Degree and Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Michigan. Dr. Quarfoth’s outstanding educational background is just one aspect of her incredible influence.

Most of Dr. Quarfoth’s research surrounds media influences on children, women and men. Her Ph. D. Thesis was specifically on children’s understanding of the nature of TV characters. From there she continued to study the portrayal of women and men and what message those men and women are sending across those different media platforms. In the past five years, Dr. Quarfoth’s research has focused on the attitude of college students seeking psychological counseling, specifically the attitudes that derive from stigmatization of mental illness. It has been fun getting to know Dr. Quarfoth and all that she has done in the past and currently. Take some time to get to know her yourself!

Why did you choose St. Kate’s? I attended large universities as an undergraduate (University of Minnesota) and as a graduate student (University of Michigan) and these experiences, while valuable, made me realize that I preferred to work at smaller liberal arts colleges. St. Kate’s particularly appealed to me because of its focus on educating women. I had taught at Carleton College and found that, even there, women students tended to be less likely to speak in class than male students. (This occurred partly because the male students interrupted and talked over the female students when they tried to participate.) It was a joy to begin teaching at St. Kate’s, an environment that fostered women to develop strong, confident voices.

What is your favorite part of St. Kate’s? My department. It is so fulfilling to work with colleagues who share the same values that I do. Our department is student-centered and we all work collaboratively with students and with each other. Some professors try to minimize the time they spend with students. The Psychology faculty always look for opportunities to engage students and to get to know them.

What are your hobbies? Reading every night before I go to bed is what keeps me happy and sane. I love mysteries and science fiction/fantasy but will read anything that intrigues me. I love hiking the parks of Lake Superior. I spend time in Grand Marais every year. Sitting on the edge of the lake and watching the waves is very soul-renewing. (And sitting is accompanied by my never-ending search for Lake Superior agates.)

What is your favorite part of being a professor? The students. I learn so much every time I teach a class because students challenge me to think about course concepts (and life) differently. There are so many students over my 34 years of teaching at St. Kate’s who have touched my life and made me feel a part of their lives.

What classes are you teaching here? This is my last semester teaching. Over the years that I have been here, I’ve taught TRW, General Psychology, Lifespan Developmental Psychology, Psychology of Gender, and Socialization Processes. I’m looking forward to retirement but I will truly miss teaching.

Where/What is your favorite place to eat out in the Twin Cities area? No one specific restaurant. I like to try small family-run places that offer types of food that I’ve never eaten. (Note: You could just skip this question!)

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why? I’d like to have Harry Potter-like wizardly powers but with no Voldemorts to have to battle.

Bryanna Sanders ’17



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