Debora Fitzdam: “An Open Book”

By : Jeanne Winton

“I’m not a routine kind of person. I don’t like to be in the same routine or situation on a daily basis,” says Debora Fitzdam, an associate professor at FM.

Teaching gives her the variety she needs. She says that although she teaches the same courses every year, the fact that she can add or remove things, and even get feedback from students, adds new life to every semester.

Another thing that keeps her teaching career interesting is the ever changing pool of students. She gets a new class of people every year, and she says she enjoys working with adults. Debora spoke about how during her student teaching she realized that teaching K-12 wasn’t for her.

She says that working with adults keeps her on her toes and makes her feel up to date and current. She also says, “They make you learn,” which she really enjoys.

Fitzdam was an early admit student at FM, and worked in sports medicine in Virginia, Maryland, and Florida before starting her career here at FM in 1993. She says that although she enjoyed living in other states, this area’s family-friendly atmosphere and her own family brought her back.

Fitzdam knew she was interested in teaching long before 1993. She would help her mother teach swimming during summers in high school. She feels that her niche was always teaching and that the sports medicine field “was exciting [and] fun but it wasn’t something I wanted to continue to do full time for the rest of my life.” She spoke about how after some time her job in that field felt more and more like a chore.

“I’ve been here [at FM] 24 years and still look forward to it every day. I have no complaints,” she says. Fitzdam commented that she knows some people say they can’t wait to retire, but she plans to stick around as long as she can.

Fitzdam also has an unexpected side, and while she tends to be very upfront and open about her life there are still some things many don’t know about her. “People don’t know that I competed in bodybuilding back when I lived in Maryland,” she said. She enjoys trying many different kinds of activities including rock climbing and kayaking, and his been a scuba diver for many years. She loves anything that has to do with the water. She says, “I think I’m part fish.”

When speaking to her daughter recently, she said that if she ever decides to retire she’ll enroll in a mermaid school in New Zealand. Until then, Fitzdam will continue spending ample time with her two Dalmatians and her mother, as well as taking care of her home.

Fitzdam says that if she could get one message across to students on campus, it would be to be polite. She thinks that a lot of kindness comes from simple manners. She believes the world needs people to just be kind and says, “There are some things we can change in life and some things we can’t, but just a kind face saying, ‘How’s your day going?,’ can make people feel so much better.”

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