Oct 27, 2022
Students who visit Dr. Jonathan Cazalas (pronounced KAH-za-las) in the Carole and Marcus Weinstein Computer Sciences Center will be treated to a tranquil view of moss-covered oak trees and beautiful Lake Hollingsworth directly outside the window behind his desk. He jokes that he only gets that view when he stands up.
Dr. Cazalas’s neighbors are Dr. Mathew Eicholtz on his right and Dr. Jason Lewis on his left. He has occupied office 117, in the beautifully designed Weinstein Building, since the building opened a year ago.
Visitors to his office cannot help but notice Dr. Cazalas’s coffee paraphernalia. One of the items he has had the longest is a coffee mug printed with computer language instructions for what to do when one runs out of coffee. He considers himself to be a true coffee connoisseur who has really been enjoying iced coffee lately.
Near the coffee collection, there is a wall decorated with reminders of New Orleans, his hometown. Of course, he also has strands of Mardi Gras beads and other Mardi Gras themed items hanging up for good measure. Another wall in the professor’s office is dedicated to Marvel action figures, with a Captain America symbol prominently displayed. A variety of coffee mugs, Star Wars novelties, crocheted figures (including a black and white Steamboat Willie version of Mickey Mouse), and an adorable salute to the Marvel character, Groot, are among the many interesting items that can be spotted in Dr. Cazalas’s office.
Not surprising for a computer science professor, family photos of his wife, Sahar, and his children Ibraheem, who attends FSC, and Maryam are digital.
In contrast, his favorite item in his office is artwork made from simple pieces of wood. It is a depiction of the Amalfi Coast that he purchased from an elderly gentleman in Sorrento, Italy. He says he fell in love with the area while vacationing there.
Because of his love for the country, Dr. Cazalas has taken FSC students on two Junior Journey trips to Italy. There is a brightly colored “Italy” sign hanging on the window in his office left over from one of the presentations he did when signing students up for a trip. He says when he takes students on Junior Journey trips to Italy, he wants them to feel like they are on a family vacation with him.
Another item in his office that has special meaning for Dr. Cazalas is a framed cross stitch that includes the words, “Kick the,” with a soccer ball stitched underneath the words. The gift from one of his students is a nod to a metaphor he frequently uses with his students. It is the professor’s way of telling his students they must take action; they cannot be passive when it comes to their education or their lives.
If you try to find him on a Monday between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., you might not find Dr. Cazalas in his office. That is when he and other members of his department play board games with students, who can let down their guards and joke around with their professors during game play.
Forming relationships with students outside of the classroom makes the computer science department a special community within the broader Florida Southern College community.
“It breaks down self-imposed barriers to learning,” Dr. Cazalas said. “It pushes boundaries.”
Dr. Cazalas will be teaching CSC 2280: Introduction to Computer Science, CSC 2290: Object-Oriented Programming, and CSC 3280: Data Structures this year. He said no student should ever worry about struggling in one of his classes. He encourages them to reach out to him if they need help.
“I love teaching,” he said. “I love engaging with students.”
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