Excellence by a Graduate Teaching Assistant

By: Graduate Studies on

The Award for Graduate Teaching Assistant recognizes excellence by graduate teaching assistants who are not instructors of record, but who provide teaching support and assistance under the direction of a lead teacher. This award focuses on the extent and quality of the assistance provided by the student to the lead instructor and the students in the class.

Nominations of truly outstanding graduate teaching assistants are sent to the graduate college coordinators and evaluated by a selection committee within each college. From among those winners, a university winner is selected.

This year, the following students received the award within their college and were consequently nominated for the university award.

The University Award Winner is Alvar Rodriguez Garrigues from the College of Sciences.

Rodriguez Garrigues is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Physics and the leading GTA in a project to completely renovate and modernize the laboratories associated to the calculus-based introductory physics course.  The lab experiments have been completely redesigned from scratch to enhance interaction amongst the students, instructor, and material.  Rodriguez Garrigues helped to conceptualize, design, develop, and implement the new methodology and volunteered to instruct the pilot courses and trained the rest of the GTAs assigned to teach these courses. He is now expanding the project into an algebra-based course.

Rodriguez Garrigues’ tireless commitment to developing these innovations made him integral to the success of this project, for which he was honored as the 2012 Outstanding Physics Teaching Assistant Award by the American Association of Physics Teachers. With a bright teaching future ahead, Rodriguez Garrigues says, “I know that this is just the beginning of something bigger.”

The following students received the award within their college and were consequently nominated for the university award.

College of Arts and Humanities

Mary “Katie” Kelley, a master’s student in the Public History program, went above and beyond the normal duties of a graduate teaching assistant by facilitating students as they developed oral histories for a course on U.S. Military History after 1900. She spearheaded this new enterprise and gracefully negotiated the challenges inherent in new initiatives. Her professionalism and tact for handling these situations resulted in a $10,000 contribution to the project from Lockheed Martin.

College of Business

Darryl Rice is a doctoral student studying Organizational Behavior with a minor in Strategy.  His belief that learning occurs through the exchange of ideas and experiences facilitates engagement and discussion in his classroom. He relates concepts and definitions to practical experiences, making the learning experience richer and more memorable as he focuses on the why of learning and how the course material can be applied within the field.

College of Engineering and Computer Science

Wilawan Onkham, a doctoral student in Industrial Engineering, has been the graduate teaching assistant for seven Industrial Engineering and Management Systems courses including one of the most challenging courses to teach, consistently receiving the highest marks for her performance. She works diligently to remain up-to-date on course material and tirelessly offers assistance to students in need and of varying academic experience. She constantly evaluates herself as an instructor, asking how she can improve herself to best assist each student in getting the most out of their educational experience.

College of Medicine

Brittany Pease, a student in the Biomedical Sciences PhD program, demonstrated a level of commitment beyond expectations. She takes ownership of her labs and communicates the material in a clear and relatable manner. By perpetuating the effective techniques of her former instructors, Brittany is able to develop her own teaching style to best challenge her students to become critical thinkers and prepare them to handle the situations and problems they will encounter beyond their academic experience.

College of Nursing

Theresa Smith Zimmer is a doctoral student in the DNP program. As a leading student in her program, Theresa draws from her expertise as a nurse practitioner and her clinical experience to put forward new and innovative ideas in education. She excels with simulated technologies and has educated adjuncts in their use. As an instructor, Zimmer seeks to empower students by guiding them toward building confidence in their knowledge and abilities.

Rosen College of Hospitality Management

Jessica Wickey recently graduated from the Hospitality and Tourism Management master’s program. During her time at Rosen, she served as a graduate teaching assistant for a number of courses and received consistent high praise for her performance. Her dedication to the students and competence with technology allowed her to support students in her courses while also aiding the instructors in developing and improving course material.

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