Professors before they were professors: Charles Fitzsimmons

Nathan Turoff, Features Editor

Upcoming professor Charles Fitzsimmons will teach his first University of North Florida (UNF) class in the upcoming Fall semester. 

Despite that class being his first time teaching at UNF, Fitzsimmons is in no way unfamiliar with the campus, as he is a UNF Alumni.

Fitzsimmons transferred to UNF from FSCJ after falling in love with the university’s campus. He graduated from UNF relatively recently, obtaining his Bachelor of Science in psychology in 2016. 

“The ultimate end goal was to get my doctorate,” explained Fitzsimmons.

Unfortunately, while UNF did offer a master’s program for psychology, that was the full extent of their psychology program, and it didn’t offer exactly what he wanted. He ended up attending Kent State University for the next five years in a program that allowed him to obtain both his Master’s and doctorate degrees while adhering to his research interests.

 Professor Fitzsimmons at the UNFUndergraduate Research Symposium. Courtesy of Charles Fitzsimmons.

After completing his doctorate, Fitzsimmons and his fiance looked into the possibility of returning to Florida in any capacity, as they were both native Floridians and preferred living in the state.

“I love Florida. I love the weather,” he remarked.

When he heard about the job opening for a psychology professor to teach developmental psychology, his specialty, he was ecstatic to provide the great experience he had to other students. 

“It was a perfect fit for me,” said Fitzsimmons

Since he graduated relatively recently compared to other alumni-turned-professors, not much on the physical campus had changed since his graduation. He still loves the layout.

“Pretty much everything is the same,” he joked.

As an alumnus, he strongly encourages current and future students to get involved as much as they can as early as they can. He stressed the importance of having a plan but still being flexible. You shouldn’t rush through to receive a degree just for the sake of it.

Fitzsimmons is “very excited” for his first classes this semester, where he will instruct two sections on lifespan development, or psychology from “womb to tomb.” 

He explained he is grateful for UNF’s small class sizes relative to other universities, as it provides the perfect balance of a diverse larger class with the student-to-professor interactivity of a small class.

Professor Fitzsimmons intends always to have an “open door” policy and hopes interested students get involved with research while ensuring they have fun.

Students interested in his work can find it here


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