Hidden Hobbies of Berry Faculty

Megan Benoit, Campus Carrier Features Editor

Leo Narrison, Campus Carrier Asst. Features Editor

Kristen Taylor, Professor of Government and Department Chair, is well versed in today’s current events and government policies, but she also knows how to knit a scarf and some mittens. 

Taylor learned to knit from her mom and grandmother when she was a child, but had stopped until a few years ago. Now she knits on a regular basis and occasionally crochets. 

“There is a group downtown that meets at the new knitting store every week,” Taylor said. 

This group meets at the Craft Yarn Co. in Rome to knit, dye yarn and do other projects together. 

“Once you know the knitting and purl stitch you can do basically anything else,” Taylor said. “It looks super hard to do some of the really fancy stitches, but for the most part it’s not so bad.” 

Taylor has made several different items including scarfs, mittens, washcloths and socks. She hopes to start working on a sweater soon. 

“It’s nice to be able to turn my brain off of work and current events at the end of the day and focus on creating something,” Taylor said. “As a professor, part of my job is writing and researching. That is a kind of creative endeavor, but it can be draining too. So, it’s nice to have another creative outlet where I can see real tangible progress a lot more quickly.” 


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Mission San José in San Antonio, Texas, taken by Hoke on one of his bike rides while on sabbatical.

Chemistry has been a focus of Kevin Hoke, Assoicate Professor of Inorganic Chemistry, for years now, but biking has been a hobby of his throughout his school years and to this day. 

“I had a bicycle as a kid, but junior and senior high school I started riding for some distance.” Hoke said. “I lived out in the country so I started riding into town, and in college I started road-racing on the cycling team.” 

Because biking is one of his passions, Hoke tries to bike no matter where life takes him. 

“When I got to California for graduate school, I took up mountain biking because I could see the mountains from our campus in Pasadena,” Hoke said. “When I went to England, I got a bike and rode around the country side, along the canals and rivers. Also, I bought the bike to commute to work.” 

Now that Hoke is at Berry, he has been able to use his love of biking to explore the trails on campus and in the Rome community. 

“I brought the bike I used in England to Berry and rode all around Mountain Campus,” Hoke said. “I just recently got a road bike, so I will start touring around Rome on my road bike.” 

Hoke tries to bike as often as he can, and invites fellow colleagues to join him as well. 

“Biking for me keeps me healthy and sane. It really helps me unwind, and think, especially the mountain biking where I don’t have to worry about cars,” said Hoke. 


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Photo courtesy of Daniel Sipocz
Sipocz poses with Disney characters while on one of his trips to Disney World.

Assistant Professor of Communication Dr. Daniel Sipocz teaches students how to write and edit newsworthy stories, find libelous information and tell stories digitally, but he also enjoys everything Disney. 

“It began before I have recollection of it,” Sipocz said. “My parents took us to Disney a lot when we were children. I have home video footage of me being there when I was 18 months old.” 

Sipocz has been to Disney around 20 times now, but his love for Disney greatly sparked after his family went on a Make A Wish trip to Disney World for his brother in 2000. 

“It’s a good place with good memories, and it has just snowballed and taken on a life of its own now. So, I go back for a lot of different reasons,” said Sipocz. 

The characters are one of Sipocz’s main focuses when visiting Disney. He has several autograph books filled with signatures from the well-known characters as well as some rare ones. 

“I love Epcot because it is about culture and a little bit about education. They often do different things with rare characters, so I get to go hunting for characters,” Sipocz said. 

While Sipocz does not typically bring back souvenirs, unless it is a t-shirt from a special event he attended, he has recently been bringing back the Disney cups. He now brings these to class with him every day. He currently has pink, blue, green and red cups. 

“I will try to bring back a cup when I go over fall break for a quick two-day trip for a Halloween party,” Sipocz said. 

After visiting a number of times, Sipocz now goes to experience things in a different way, attend special events and also interact with the cast members to learn more about their stories. 

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