Even though Dr. Adrienne Sudbury is in her third school year as a professor at Longwood University, 2022-23 feels like she is starting over.

“COVID-19 threw a wrench into any expectations I had outside of grad school,” she said. “I started at Longwood in Fall 2020, so my first year was atypical. I was teaching a hybrid model, which is tough because you’re teaching online and in-person at the same time and learning the ropes of a new university. The first year was quite overwhelming.

“The second year, we were all in person, but we still had COVID-19 restrictions, masks and other impediments to learning. By far, this year has felt like the most normal version of how I expected teaching in college to happen. It’s been great.”

Dr. Sudbury teaches Macroeconomics for Managers, a course that launched in the first semester of the current school year in the online Master of Business Administration with track in Economics program.

“COVID-19 shocked everyone into figuring out new techniques for teaching virtually,” she said. “I felt much better prepared to teach the online MBA class.

“I have my iPad and know how to voice over lectures and post videos because COVID-19 forced us to learn those things.”

One of the challenges that Dr. Sudbury enjoys most is producing her lecture videos with relevant course information as if she were in the classroom with the students.

“It’s easy to do with macroeconomics compared to microeconomics — especially right now with so much going on,” she said. “There’s inflation, unemployment, supply chain issues, a little bit of a recession. I do my best to draw real-world elements into the course so we can relate across different sectors.”

Roll of the Dice

Dr. Sudbury is from Kingsport, Tennessee. She said she enrolled at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with no interest in economics.

“I was thrown into an Introduction to Microeconomics course as part of the general education requirements at the school,” she said. “I had a wonderful professor, Dr. Ziad Keilany, who is now retired, and he made the class so much fun that I decided to take Macroeconomics.

“One thing led to another. I decided that I liked economics, so I kept signing up for a few more classes and thought it might be my minor. Midway through my sophomore year, I decided to make it my major.”

Once that happened, Dr. Sudbury landed a job as an economics tutor. She discovered a love of teaching the subject, which led her to graduate school at the University of Tennessee.

“I started doing some research into how to become an econ professor,” she said. “I learned that you pretty much need a Ph.D. To do that, you need a math minor. I added that and finished undergrad with the intention of entering a Ph.D. program for econ.”

Before making those plans, Dr. Sudbury majored in international studies to work at the United Nations. After that, she considered earning a pair of degrees.

“I still enjoy that subject matter, and macroeconomics is closely related,” she said. “I eventually decided I didn’t have enough time in my schedule to pursue both degrees.

“I decided that economics could translate into international studies. I was hanging onto that interest through a different channel, less political science and more from the business side.”

When Dr. Sudbury starts with a new group of students in her course, she does her best to ensure they can get as much out of the experience as possible.

“When I have them introduce themselves at the beginning of each semester, I look to see what industry they’re in,” she said. “They might have differential impacts depending on their industry.”

Game of Life

When Dr. Sudbury got her first taste of teaching at the college level, she knew she had found her true calling.

“I taught a few classes as a graduate assistant at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville,” she said. “I took some classes on how to be a good teacher, which I found very valuable.”

Dr. Sudbury enjoys teaching the new course and sees how having an MBA in Economics will change the trajectory of her students’ careers. She led an undergraduate economics course the previous two years.

“It translates across a lot of different fields — especially with macroeconomics,” she said. “Having some basic knowledge of how different economic environments impact the everyday business environment is a necessary skill and language barrier that some people might have.

“You can continue in the private sector or work in the public sector in all kinds of government — federal, state or local — jobs value economic knowledge. Then, there are a lot of nonprofit sectors that value that type of skill set.”

In her free time, Dr. Sudbury enjoys playing board games with her husband, Zeke. But now that the world is mostly back to normal, she is happy to be doing what she loves most.

“I love interacting with students,” she said. “I don’t get as much of that with the online students, but when some come to my office hours and email me questions, that’s my favorite part.

“I also love those ‘a-ha’ lightbulb moments when people finally figure something out — especially how it might apply in the real world.

“You see that expression on their face, which is one of my favorite moments in teaching. Then, you understand they get it and have learned something important.”

Learn more about Longwood University’s online MBA with track in Economics program.