Celebrating Woman at YSU

By Melissa Turosik

In celebration of Woman’s History Month, three Youngstown State University female professors gave a glimpse into their education and teaching histories and explained how they came to YSU.

Diana Fagan, professor in biological science and the Women in STEM Career Day director, said she chose the microbiology and immunology field because she was “probably a little brainwashed as a child.”

“My mother was a scientist, which is very unusual because my mother just passed away recently at the age of 89. When she first started college, she was one of only four women in the entirety of STEM at Berkeley University,” Fagan said.

Fagan said her mother had a very productive career. She said she helped her work in the lab.

“That helped me [realize] I wanted to do it, because I had that mentor … That’s one of the reasons that I got involved in developing the Women in STEM Career Day, so I could provide mentors to other girls who didn’t have that opportunity,” Fagan said.

Fagan said she received a medical technology degree. She said she knew she was going to graduate school but didn’t want to do it right out of college.

“I did three years at the University of Texas in Austin and then went to the University of Texas Medical Branch for a year of clinical training before I completed my degree,” Fagan said.

Fagan said she worked for four years, saved some money and had fun before she went to graduate school for a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology at Southwestern Medical School in Dallas.

Michele Farina, part-time faculty in foreign language, said she grew up in Youngstown and her first degree was in elementary education from YSU.

“I had the great fortune of ending up teaching overseas for the Department of Defense Schools on the United State military bases and eventually I was stationed in Italy in Sicily and Naples,” Farina said. “While I was in Italy I learned Italian, which had always been something I wanted to do.”

Farina said while teaching in Italy after learning Italian, she began to teach Italian immersion at the elementary level. She taught half the day in Italian and half the day in English.

Farina said over the years she earned a degree in the language and teaching certifications for high school and college Italian.

Farina said she lived in Italy for 13 years.

“I lived in many places in Italy,” Farina said. “I lived in Sicily, Naples, Rome and Puglia, so all of my experiences there were life changing. It made me realize the world is so much bigger than the world I knew growing up, so everything I have done has been an eye-opening experience.”

Dorian Mermer, instructor in the communications department, has been teaching at YSU since 1990.

She said if broadcasting did not work out for her she had numerous supplemental minors to fall back on.

“I got my degree from Hiram College, and I had some minors — what we called back then concentrations — in psychology, sociology and business management,” she said.

Mermer said she was originally going to go into a business-related field by moving to New York.

“It was an odd series of events that happened,” Mermer said. “I never made it there, and then I decided why not get a master’s degree. So, I went through and got my master’s in oral communication at Kent State University and with teaching I actually answered an ad in The Vindicator for a part-time faculty position and so that’s how I ended up [at YSU].”

Women everywhere are making strides, and while these women represent a fraction of successful women at YSU, they continue to accomplish great things.