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Kelly O’Foran, AMD’15, had always wanted to learn how to knit, and made it her new year’s resolution for 2014. Then, when she was brainstorming ideas for programs to host as a Resident Assistant for Melvin Hall, it occurred to her that a knitting workshop would be a great opportunity to learn knitting alongside her residents.

She planned the knitting night by reaching out to professors who knew how to knit and emailed Art Faculty Professor Ben Caras for possible references. She got a surprising email back—Professor Caras himself didn’t know how to knit, but his mom did.

“It just happens that my mom is an accomplished yarn slinger and has 20 years experience teaching art,” Professor Caras said. To help Kelly and her program, he and his mom spent a Sunday afternoon preparing stitching tutorial videos that were used for the workshop.

“I was really blown away by his efforts,” Kelly said. “He was enthusiastic, patient, and the model of what I think a faculty member should be.”

Their hard work paid off—the knitting workshop was a success. “I’ve seen residents knitting during their free time after learning at the workshop,” Kelly said. “Some are even doing more advanced stitches now.”

When the time came to nominate a faculty member for going above and beyond while working with Resident Assistants on programs, Kelly nominated Professor Caras. He was chosen as Faculty of the Year and honored at the Faculty Appreciation Reception, where over 100 faculty and academic partners were invited.

When Residental Life presented Professor Caras with the award, he brought his mom up to the podium with him. “It was perfect. If wasn’t for my mom, this wouldn’t have happened,” he said.

Kara Curcio, Assistant Director for Residential Life, said, “These programs, like the knitting workshop, give students the opportunity to see faculty as ‘real people’ and give faculty the opportunity to see, and experience, how their students live.”

When asked about the award, Ben said, “I’m honored and surprised that I was nominated for this award. I would like to thank our community at CAMD, the wonderful students I have the privilege to work with, and especially my mom, Joyce Caras.”

Professor Caras is currently helping with an interactive art piece for Ryder Hall for another student, Corey Hoard. “It should be quite interesting,” Ben said. “I’m always open to helping students with cool projects.”

By Julie Ryu and Nick Marini