Hypothetical: Like I’m 5

AU experts put their creativity to the test. No wrong answers.


Illustra­tion by
Traci Daberko

A woman swings on a swing attached to the handle of an illustrated briefcase

How would you describe your work to a 5-year-old?

I teach teachers and bus drivers how to be healthy: to eat healthy foods, exercise, and get plenty of sleep so that they can be excellent teachers and great role models.

Lisa Cooperstein, CAS/MA ’03, is wellness coordinator for Montgomery County Public Schools.

I imagine American University as an orchestra, in which each section has its unique part to play. Together, it’s our job to conduct the orchestra. We help make sure we have excellent musicians in every section and that everyone has the sheet music and understands their parts. We want to be sure everyone has the right instruments and sufficient practice to make beautiful and impactful music that the orchestra, audience, and everyone else can appreciate.

Amanda Taylor is AU’s assistant vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion.

I help mommies and daddies make decisions when they disagree. Those decisions could be about money, where they live, and when they spend time with their kiddos.

Kina Harding, SPA/BA ’03, is an attorney and the managing member of the Harding Firm, a family law practice in Mesa, Arizona.

All year long, I wait for grapes to grow tasty and sweet. Then, I squeeze the juice out of them and turn the grape juice into a delicious drink for adults.

Erik Subrizi, SOC/BA ’07, is a winemaker at Chicago Winery.

Businesses are like books—each one has a story to tell. The difference is that businesses use numbers instead of words. My job is to help students learn how to read the story of businesses like McDonald’s and Target using numbers instead of words. 

Tara Fisher is a professorial lecturer in the Department of Accounting.

I study how marshes and forests provide homes for animals and help people have clean water and stay safe in storms. I use that information to help people make choices that will create a healthier world for everyone.

Alison Bowden, CAS/BA ’96, is director of science and strategy at the Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts.

I write instructions on the computer and put them together like a book. Then I put the book onto a shelf, just like at the library. But instead of my own library or the school’s library, they get put onto a shelf in a large public library. Other people can check out the book and see the story I’ve written. You can see these stories on your computer, tablet, or phone.

Bella Woo, SPA/BA ’10, is the lead software engineer for The Atlantic.

I give advice to governments so that they can help their people to get better jobs, buy what they need, and save money for the future. I do this by studying numbers and charts, meeting with important people in different countries, and writing reports.

Robin Koepke, SIS/MA ’10, is an economist with the International Monetary Fund.

I help uncover important stories from the past and tell them in new ways. I make sure that history is told through everyone’s experiences—especially people whose voices have not always been heard.

Joshua Johnson, CAS/MA ’23 is a public history student and the Slavery and Its Legacies fellow for the Antiracist Research and Policy Center.

Astronomers take lots of pictures of faraway things in outer space. We then study those pictures to figure out how objects like planets, stars, galaxies, and black holes formed and why they look the way they do.

Aaron Grocholski is a professorial lecturer in the Department of Physics. 

I use nature to provide a safer environment for everyone. In one project, I mixed crab shells, vinegar, clay, and seaweed to make a paint that prevents fires.

Douglas Fox is chair of the Department of Chemistry.

I watch over student-athletes to help make sure they stay safe and healthy. If an athlete does get hurt, I let them know what is wrong and how to fix it. Then, they spend time each day with me working to heal and get better until they are ready to go back to playing.

Sam Raso is AU’s assistant athletic director for sports medicine.