An interview with Robin Avant, Dean of Academic Affairs
Dean Robin Avant started preparing for her vocation at age six, when she taught and gave exams to her collection of teddy-bear pupils. A lasting passion and a lifetime of educational preparation for her role as an HCC professor and ultimately Dean of Academic Affairs ensued, and she’s not nearly done.
Originally from Peekskill, New York, Robin’s career at HCC began as a student, when she earned an Associates of Science degree in Biotechnology – a program ahead of the industry at the time. From there, she went on to earn a Bachelor’s of Science Degree and a Master of Art Degree in Bio-Molecular Science from Central Connecticut State University. Today, she is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Educational Leadership at the University of Bridgeport.
“I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree on a Saturday, and the following Monday I started working at 454 Lifesciences, a Roche pharmaceutical company. Since they offered tuition reimbursement, I went back to Central for my Masters, taking classes every night after work to get the degree in one year. It was very ambitious, but that grit is part of my drive to improve my circumstances,” said Robin.
With biotech manufacturing experience under her belt and a Master’s Degree in hand, in 2012 Robin took an adjunct professor position at HCC teaching Introduction to Biology courses. When a full-time position opened up at Housatonic, she went for it, knowing that she could make a difference in student’s lives.
“Student impact is my favorite part of teaching. By taking complex concepts in science, breaking them down and providing application opportunities, we’re creating meaningful connection. I enjoy getting out from behind the podium and interacting with our students, I seek to create hands-on, active learning,” said Robin.
Since 2015 Robin has been the college’s STEM/STEAM coordinator, launching the Carnegie STEM Pathway program at HCC and connecting Housatonic to the area’s STEM Ecosystem. She also effected HCC’s Forensic Science course.
In 2017 she became HCC’s Interim Dean of Academic Affairs, going on to take the position in an official capacity the following year. It’s a role she enjoys, while still teaching courses in genetics, gardening and general biology.
“What I’ve recognized in this role is that I can have a larger impact, well beyond 25 students in one given semester. For instance, I attend community events to promote Housatonic and can see the moment when someone says ‘I need to transform my life’, and It is amazing to watch their success. The connection and support I can provide are so good for my soul,” said Robin.
Robin’s ambition continues outside of Housatonic as well. In addition to raising two children (Demarko, age 12 and Grace, age 4) with her husband Depaul, Robin is a minister, a gardener and an author, recently publishing the book, The Spirit of Gardening: Gardening for New Bees The life revealed through gardening! She also has a passion for swimming, and has set a personal goal to participate in Swim Across the Sound.