Snapshot: Michelle Monette
Occupation: I am currently an associate professor in the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences at Western Connecticut State University. I’ve been there for six years, having started in January 2013. I received a bachelor’s in biology at Boston University, then went for a PhD at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Following that, I went to the School of Medicine at Yale for five years. I’ve been in an academic path for many years, but I always had a love for biology since my teens. Both of my parents were teachers, so that probably subconsciously influenced me.
Family: I’m married to Tobias Breuing. He is a registered nurse at Bridgeport Hospital in the oncology department. I have two boys. Noah is my oldest, he’s 8 years old; and Lucas is 4 years old. My parents, Francis and Yvonne Monette, live right next door to us in Newtown. They moved here in September 2018 to be closer to us.
How long have you lived in Newtown? We have lived in Newtown for six years. Since my husband has a job in Bridgeport and I’m working in Danbury, Newtown is centrally located. Also, we chose to move here because we like the open space and the schools in Newtown.
What do you like to do in your free time? I love to go to the gym and run. Exercise is a priority during my free time. I also like to travel.
Do you have a favorite author? I love Barbara Kingsolver. I’ve read many of her books and enjoy her because she writes fictional novels usually with a strong female protagonist who is interested in biology. The author has degrees in biology and incorporates that in her writing.
What is your favorite travel destination? Europe — especially Germany. My husband is German, and our children have dual citizenship. We try to go to Germany every two years to visit family. Noah takes a German lesson at the library with a tutor once a week.
What is the best part about Newtown? For us, I would say the small town feel. I grew up in Newton, Massachusetts, and that city had about three-times as many people as Newtown. So, what I love about Newtown is whenever I bring my kids to the playground or sign them up for a program through Parks & Rec, my kids always know someone there.
Who has been the greatest influence in your life? Professionally, it would be my father. He was a professor at Boston University for many years and was my influence for my career path. On the social/emotional side, I’d say my husband, because he is a nurse and his strength is compassion and being aware of people’s needs. I think he has taught me a lot about how to be compassionate. It has helped me in teaching to be understanding to all different types of people as well as helped me be a mother.
If you could spend the day with one person, who would you choose and why? My husband. Life is busy being a full-time professor with two boys. I’d want to spend my day with him.
Who is your favorite musical artist? I like folk. My favorite group is The Indigo Girls. I just saw them in concert at the Capital Theater.
Do you have a favorite TV show? We like to watch The Office, because we have a special connection to it. I went to school with my husband, and we went to high school with John Krasinski and B.J. Novak. Also, we like to watch Friends and Game of Thrones.
What is your favorite quote? I love the quote by J.R.R. Tolkien “Not all those who wander are lost.”
What is something you cannot live without? At this point in the semester — coffee. In a broader sense, I love living in a place with open space.
What is your proudest accomplishment? That I’ve achieved my career goal as being a tenured professor and on top of that have a family with two boys. Also, I’ve created a new class in our department where I take students off campus to a research lab in Maine every summer. Creating that opportunity for students has been one of my proudest accomplishments.
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