Michelle Garland

My path to salvation was long and winding, as I was not saved until I was 24-years-old. I grew up with a Christian mother and a Jewish father; we celebrated everything, and I am so grateful for the opportunity. While that experience is one I appreciate, it resulted in a lot of confusion and challenges growing up, especially growing up in a small southern town where almost everyone I knew went to church. I went to church Easter and Christmas, as well as periodically throughout the year, and I went to Temple for Passover and Hanukkah. When people asked me what I was, I would jokingly say I was a mutt. In reality, I was just very confused. To be honest, my perception of Christians was not really a positive one. Many of the Christians I interacted with were judgmental and pushy, telling me I was going to hell if I wasn't saved. This turned me more away from being open to Jesus than opening my heart to Him. I felt like choosing one side or the other would mean rejecting one said of my family. It was a choice I did not want to make. I went through a traumatic experience in college that led to personal and health challenges after college. While counseling helped, something was still missing. At 24, recently married and settling in to my life in Knoxville, TN, my husband and I had decided that we would raise our future child as a Christian. I wasn't saved and wasn't sure I ever would be, but I understood the importance of consistency and clarity of beliefs. We would still celebrate the Jewish holidays with family, but our future child would group up in church. In the process of "church shopping," we attended a service that changed my life. During worship, before the sermon, the church choir sang words that touched my soul and opened my heart to what was missing. "I need you Jesus to come to my rescue. Where else can I go? There's no other name by which I am saved..... I will follow you. This world has nothing for me." As I sang with them, I broke into tears, and knew that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Was my life easy and perfect after that? Not even close. I continue to face challenges, but instead of facing them alone, I know I have Him on my side. While I don't typically speak of my faith in the classroom unless asked by a student or in a story when exemplifying a course concept, I try to demonstrate my faith through kindness, patience, and understanding. As cliche as it sounds, I try to let my light shine inside the classroom and out. My hope is that students will recognize a difference, and that light will spark a conversation that may help them along their spiritual journey.

My Life

Favorite Quote

"Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me." - Jill Jackson-Miller and Sy Miller

Friends describe me

Compassionate, quirky, good for a hug

My hobbies

Spending time with my daughter, reading, watching movies, cuddling with my dogs

Fantasy dinner guests

Esther, Meryl Streep, Anne Frank

Best advice I ever received

Treat everyone with kindness and respect; you never know what they are going through.

My undergrad alma mater

College of Charleston

My worst subject in school


In college I drove

Honda Civic

If I weren't a professor, I would

Write fiction novels

Favorite books

Redeeming Love, The Giving Tree, The Giver, almost anything by Francine Rivers and Nicholas Sparks

Favorite movies

Rudy, Field of Dreams, I Still Believe, The Longest Ride, Hunger Games

Favorite city

US - Charleston; International - Santorini

Favorite coffee

Not really coffee, but I'm addicted to green tea lattes.

Nobody knows I

Still dream of being a movie actress one day

My latest accomplishment

promoted to Director for the Center of Interdisciplinary Studies

Current Research

the relationship between faculty confirming/disconfirming messages and student learning/affective outcomes