A conversation with Rachel Cain, Assistant Professor of Biology
For 15 years, Rachel Cain has been a dedicated part of HCC’s Math/Science teaching team. She was initially a part-time Lecturer but is currently Assistant Professor of Biology who teaches Introduction to Biology, General Biology I and General Biology II. Through community building, she empowers students every day to achieve their top learning potential.
“Bar none, my favorite part about teaching is the students,” said Rachel. “I like learning what interests them, understanding their cultures, and hearing their family stories. Their grit inspires me, they keep showing up; our students are relentless. What an honor to join them on their academic journey.”
Growing up, it was a conversation with her oldest sister that helped to shape Rachel’s path, merging her passion for teaching with that of Biology. Since childhood Rachel gravitated towards teaching, but in college began pursuing the sciences solely. At a turning point, her sister encouraged her to combine ‘what she loved with what she always desired,’ she knew her calling then and has remained steadfast in her profession since 1999.
Prior to joining the HCC team, Rachel earned her Bachelor's in Biology alongside a State of Connecticut teaching certification in Secondary Education. She taught at Fairfield Ludlowe High School, where she earned the achievement, "Highly Qualified Teacher" as evaluated by the Connecticut State Department of Education. All the while, she was nearing completion of her M.S. in Biology and became interested in teaching at the college level which is what prompted her career move to HCC.
"One of the many aspects that I love about teaching here is rooted in one of our HCC Values, "fostering interpersonal interactions that are respectful of individuals, uniqueness, and culture." At HCC, I appreciate the opportunity to learn in our community, a beautiful microcosm of diversity," she said.
Rachel truly enjoys teaching, but more than that enjoys learning.
“What many adult learners don't realize is that they bring with them to the classroom an expertise in at least one area, and when I’m around them, I’m sparked to be the student. Many of them recognize their why; they know that they’re learning concepts useful in a career, and their family background is fueling their drive to do whatever it takes,” said Rachel.
A leader in the HCC community, Rachel undertakes volunteer opportunities regularly. She is the Faculty Representative to the HCC Foundation, and Vice Chair of the College Senate, where she assists the Chair with the various processes of shared governance in the HCC community. She has served as "STEAM Initiatives Coordinator" organizing HCC's STEAMfest in 2018, and STEAM Research Abroad in Honolulu, HI.
“Being given the opportunity to serve in the capacity of STEAM Coordinator was a step I took with hesitation, but looking back, I realize how much the experience broadened my professional horizons and deepened my sense of advocacy for under-resourced and under-represented students. With STEAM you can intensify your reach by building relationships with community partners, and can connect students to exceptional opportunities,” she said.
Rachel also helps in the preparation of future professionals by serving as an Advisor for Pre-Health Professions, such as Physician Assistant, and Biology majors. She helps students ensure that they are taking the correct classes that will transfer to Bachelor’s programs and beyond.
Outside HCC, Rachel’s dedication to volunteering continues at both her church and at her children’s schools. Rachel lives with her husband, Bill, and their three children