Mitchell Spezzaferri, California Baptist University alumnus, can now add professor to the ever-growing list of roles he has played at CBU, having previously been a teaching assistant, student-athlete, assistant coach and graduate assistant.
The latest addition to the faculty of the School of Behavioral Sciences, Spezzaferri received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at CBU and is now passing on his knowledge to students as an adjunct professor.
Spezzaferri graduated from CBU with his bachelor’s degree in cognitive psychology in 2014 and with his master’s degree in forensic psychology in 2016. Originally drawn to CBU for swim and water polo, he said he soon learned to love the school in its entirety.
“As time progressed, I really enjoyed the university and the community here and all the institution stands for, so that’s why I continued to stay here for all four years and then come back for my master’s,” Spezzaferri said.
Although Spezzaferri received both degrees in psychology and now teaches in that field, he did not start out as a psychology major.
“I actually started out studying graphic design and photography, and then I realized I like interacting with people and learning more about people,” Spezzaferri said.
Continuing on, he found he enjoyed research more than clinicals and so opted for forensic psychology, a more research-based program.
Although Spezzaferri’s end goal is to do forensic research with the federal government, he found he also really enjoyed teaching.
“I didn’t realize I liked teaching until I was offered a teaching assistantship for my practicum and got in the classroom and began lecturing and realized I really liked this,” Spezzaferri said.
Dr. Anne-Marie Larsen, associate professor of psychology, taught Spezzaferri through both his undergraduate and graduate programs. She said Spezzaferri was a rare student who always came prepared.
Spezzaferri said teaching as a professor only a few years older than most of his students may come with challenges, as well as advantages.
“Being a young professor, everything is kind of new to you so you’re starting from the ground up,” Spezzaferri said. “You’ll try things and they don’t work out how you expect them to so you have to adapt.”
However, being younger may have the added benefit of helping Spezzaferri connect better with students.
“I think he really gets what it’s like to be a student, and I think that’s lost in a lot of professors,” Larsen said.
Along with teaching, Spezzaferri is also the assistant swim coach and was swim captain while at CBU.
Elijah Barrows, senior business administration major and Spezzaferri’s former teammate, noted Spezzaferri’s genuine care and compassion for others in and out of the pool.
“I remember when he was on the team, he was always super good about going up to the freshmen and introducing himself and getting to know you,” Barrows said. “You could tell he would go out of his way to include everybody.”