What is your current job title and responsibilities?
I’m an Associate Professor in Early Childhood Development and Education. I serve as the Coordinator of the Master of Science in Early Childhood Development and Education Program (MS in ECDE) and the Education Ph.D. Early Childhood Track in the College of Education and Human Performance, Department of Child, Family, and Community Sciences. I teach and advise both undergraduate and graduate students in early childhood and Co-Direct Study Abroad Programs (England, Italy, Finland, and now Germany).
What is your history at UCF and before UCF?
I joined UCF in 2005 as an Assistant Professor in Early Childhood and became Graduate Program Coordinator in 2009. I became the Education Ph.D. Early Childhood Track Coordinator in 2012.
Prior to UCF, I worked at the King Center Charter School in Buffalo, NY as a Teacher and Program/Special Projects Director (2001-2005) and at the Early Childhood Research Center at SUNY at Buffalo as a Teacher, Administrative and Research Assistant (1996-2001).
I participated in international teaching/learning programs in Hungary, Bulgaria, Denmark, England, United States, Ethiopia, Japan, Italy, and Finland. Since 2007, I have been serving as one of the United Nations Representatives of the Association of Childhood Education International (ACEI).
What is your academic background?
Ph.D. in Elementary Education with Early Childhood focus, SUNY at Buffalo, 2001
M.Ed. in Elementary Education with Early Childhood focus, SUNY at Buffalo, 1998
B.A. in Elementary Education and Teaching English as a Second Language, Teacher Training School, Jászberény, Hungary, 1996
I also have a certificate in International Business (Foreign Trade) from Hungary.
What is your favorite UCF memory?
The clothing drive we organized for Haitian refugee children in 2010 in the College of Education. It was amazing to see students, faculty, and staff collaborating to gather all kinds of aid to recently arrived refugee children and their families in the Central Florida area. I will never forget the face of the children becoming excited for a new pair of shoes, clothes, and stuffed animals that we gave them.
If you could change one thing at UCF, what would it be?
Offering paid maternity leave for staff members as well.
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with your colleagues?
Take the time to talk to your colleagues. Just a 5-minute informal conversation can make someone’s day.
If UCF was going to name something in your honor, what would you like it to be and why?
I would like it to be the Judit Szente Study Abroad Scholarship for UCF students who have never traveled abroad before.
If you could have lunch with anyone at UCF (who you do not normally eat lunch with), who would you choose and why?
A retired professor who has all the knowledge of UCF’s history and a wealth of wisdom regarding life.
Who at UCF would you like to thank for your success?
I would like to thank the people who hired me (Dr. Sandra Robinson, my first Dean and Dr. Bill Wienke, my first Department Chair). I also would like to thank all my former and current colleagues in the college for their inspiration, collaboration, friendship, and mentoring.
Name and describe a teacher or researcher from your past who truly inspired you and why.
My 6th grade Hungarian Language Arts teacher in Hungary, István Téglás. He was the first teacher who truly inspired my creativity as I submitted an interview with Isaac Newton. He told the whole class, that first he didn’t know what to do with my assignment, since we needed to interview a person (he assumed we would interview someone who was alive at the time), but later he decided to accept it since my questions and Newton’s answers to me were truly based on research and creativity J
What undergraduate or graduate class/program/experience inspired you the most and why?
My Analysis of Research courses during my doctoral work with Dr. Thomas Schroeder at SUNY at Buffalo. I enjoyed reading every page of our statistics books and doing all the assignments.
What is your favorite restaurant or food?
I love Hungarian and Indian food and a nice, fresh, crunchy salad.
What is your favorite movie, book or music?
My favorite movie: Hercules by Disney
My favorite book: my 2-year-old son’s current favorite during our bedtime rituals
My favorite music: Frank Sinatra, Andrea Bocelli, and Demjén Ferenc from Hungary
What is your favorite vacation destination?
Any Royal Caribbean cruise