Tartan Spotlight: Anne Soltysiak


Anne Soltysiak, an accomplished and spirited Professor of Psychology.

Why she’s interesting…

Soltysiak was born in Pennsylvania, living in Philadelphia and eventually further west on a small farm. Soltysiak’s family struggled financially throughout her life. She recalls not having a TV for quite some time and even having to carry in buckets of water when their plumbing broke.

Soltysiak says that she always enjoyed school. “It got me away from home. A place where there was running water,” she said. “I always did really well at school. Teachers liked me so I got a lot of approval there.”

Soltysiak didn’t expect to go college because of her family’s financial situation, but was able to attend after receiving a national merit scholarship as well as a full ride to Pennsylvania State University.

Soltysiak started as a theatre major, but after a time of uncertainty, she discovered her passion for psychology.

Soltysiak graduated in three years with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

“After that I thought, ‘Now what?’ Until then I had never heard of grad school. No one I knew had ever attended or talked about grad school,” she said.

Although Soltysiak wanted to, she couldn’t afford to attend grad school, so she moved to New Jersey and got a job at the Woodbine State School for the developmentally disabled.

Soltysiak was in charge of aggressive and self-injurious individuals.

“As a behavior programmer, so when someone had a problem like throwing feces or biting themselves, it would be my job to write a behavior modification program,” Soltysiak says.

“I just launched into studying it, just totally immersing myself in it on my own. I even ended up writing some pretty successful behavior modification programs that seemed to really work.”

Soltysiak’s co-workers at Woodbine urged her to seriously pursue grad school, so she began looking again and found what looked to be a good opportunity at the University of Florida.

She then traveled to Florida for an interview with the Director of the Neuroscience Department, but as a single mother, she had to bring her four-year-old son with her.

Soltysiak explains that she was met with a scowl and persistent undermining.

“He basically made it impossible for me to continue there,” but she says that she later found out that “this guy was well known for being quite sexist.”

After this experience, she didn’t give up and found home in the psycho-biology program, a cross between psychology and neuroscience. Soltysiak said that she was so happy there.

Six years later, Soltysiak received her doctorate while raising her child, which she said was not an easy thing to do.

“It was not easy, but I did it and it was the single most important achievement of my life.” While Soltysiak worked hard to get her doctorate for herself, she says that she also did it for her son.

Soltysiak then did her post doctorate at a pharmacology department in Kentucky and eventually moved to Dayton.

While struggling to find research work in Dayton, she came upon a teaching job here at Sinclair. At first, she saw it as something to pay the bills, but eventually came to love it.

“It was so much fun to teach. I love sharing psychology with people, I mean people can really change their lives by learning a little about it,” Soltysiak says.

She says she views teaching as the bit of good she can contribute to society, which she has now been doing for 20 years here at Sinclair.

Hannah Hamlin

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