Chloe Irla: First Alumna, then Professor at McDaniel

Professor Irla and daughter. Photo courtesy of Professor Irla.Professor Irla and daughter. Photo courtesy of Professor Irla.

“Welcome to McDaniel!” is a phrase professor Chloe Irla is most likely tired of hearing, considering she has been a part of McDaniel since her undergraduate career. First a student and now a teacher, professor Irla has experienced a pleasant and fulfilling journey.

Irla grew up in various areas around the East Coast, but she calls Richmond, Virginia, her home town. Her father is a corporate accountant that various companies would hire to help save their companies from financial ruin. With companies from all over the U.S. hiring him, traveling became a part of Irla’s early life.

As a child, she always loved art and seemed to have a knack for it. Luckily, Mrs. Cody, her elementary school art teacher, noticed her talent and potential. Mrs. Cody guided her and helped her join various art programs for gifted children. This is when her love for art began to take root.

With continued guidance and help from her high school art teacher, Mrs. Monroe, she was able to attend McDaniel and earn her B.A. in Studio Art, and a minor in Art History. Her undergraduate career here was enjoyable, and not a whole lot has changed other than the technology and resources she uses. “The atmosphere is still the same, the students are humble and hardworking,” Irla remarks.

After McDaniel, Irla enrolled in MICA’s (Maryland Institute of College Art) Graduate Program, where she earned her MFA (Masters degree of Fine Arts). This is where her interest in teaching started to blossom. She pondered the thought of teaching while attending McDaniel, but her experiences in the near future are what opened her mind to teaching. She was able to join the MICA Graduate Assistant Program where she acted as a teachers aid for various art courses. Irla states, “It was a great experience, the classes were challenging to teach but it was a lot of fun!”

Photo courtesy of Professor Irla.

Professor Irla with daughter. Photo courtesy of Professor Irla.

Other than being a TA at MICA, Irla was also a part-time teacher at Anne-Arundel Community College, and the University Maine Farmington. She even came back to McDaniel in the spring of 2011 to teach. It was at the University of Maine where and when she truly learned how to teach, she says.

“Teaching is more than the lectures and what goes on inside the classroom. Understanding the students, and engaging them on a personal level is how you bring out their full potential. We are all humans with tons of responsibilities. Understanding that students have a lot more to worry about than what goes on in the academic setting was when I truly felt like I knew how to teach.” This is one of the most important objectives Irla has learned over the years.

After gaining a good amount of teaching experience, she decided she needed a break from the teaching world. She was able to earn a great job as the Operations Manager for Charm City Cakes in Baltimore MD. “It was a demanding job, with a good amount of work. I enjoyed it and learned great skills while I was there. I prefer teaching though.”

About a year ago, she found herself with a loving husband and a beautiful baby girl. As a stay at home mom, things tend to get boring and redundant. She found the temporary position that she has now, and applied, hoping to get a new job and to change up her routine. “The position was only hypothetical at first. When the school informed me that I got the job it seemed like everything fell perfectly into my lap without much effort,” Irla adds. This is a one year position that is being turned into a full time position after her term is over.

Her hard and excellent work has not gone unnoticed either.  The head of the Art and Art History Department, Steven Pearson, had only positive comments to say about Irla. “Besides revamping and revitalizing our digital media courses, she took the initiative to organize an exhibition of student work related to the Presidential election. That exhibition included work from 4 Studio Art classes, an Art History class and 3 English classes” says Pearson. This is only one out of a couple other activities she has organized that were successful.

In her short time as a professor at McDaniel she has already earned great accomplishments and the respect of her fellow colleagues and students. “I never had professor Irla but I did ask her for help on a project earlier in the semester. I heard about her through my fellow students. She is very nice and very willing to help me!” says senior Summer Villarosa. She has even gained the respect of professor Pearson, “Professor Irla has been a great addition to the department. She is a lifelong learner, an excellent teacher, and an excellent artist!”

Since Irla came back to McDaniel to teach, she describes her experience as “wonderful, I love what I do!” She says that the students, and being able to help students learn and grow, are what get her out of bed every day. Being able to help foster the skills and talents of the future generation is extremely rewarding in her eyes. Irla is one of many fantastic additions to our community that will help McDaniel to continue its long legacy of producing educated and successful young individuals.