4 Graduate Student Teaching Award Winners

We are pleased to announce that four of our graduate students have recently won the Graduate Students’ Teaching Award. Charlene Fu is receiving the award for the third time, and has been placed on the Honor Roll. Congratulations!!

Fu Siling Charlene
Alethea Koh Hui Qin
Eri Sasaki
Vania Yip Ting

Since Eri is a first-time winner, we also took the opportunity to find out what makes her such an effective teacher.

What inspires you to teach?

1. My teachers. I am fortunate to have had nurturing teachers who have made a difference in my life; in fact, I can confidently say that these teachers have largely contributed to the person I am today––they changed the way I see the world, fueled lifelong passion in certain fields, and encouraged me to find and pursue my career dreams. Hence, I understand that teachers can touch students’ lives in the present and far into the future, and I hope that in my own little ways, I can also make a positive difference in my students’ lives.

2. My students. There is something alluring to watch my students learn and grow intellectually alongside myself. Furthermore, little acts of appreciation by students, such as a simple “thank you” after class, as well as encouraging notes and email messages are always heartening and only motivate me to be a better teacher for my students.

What are some of the major challenges you face as a teacher?

I am new to teaching and it was not long ago that I was on the other side of the classroom as an undergraduate student. Thus, I sometimes feel inadequate of my abilities and knowledge as a teacher. At the same time, I understand that confidence is necessary for effective teaching. Building self-confidence is still a work-in-progress for myself. I strive to be well acquainted with the tutorial content, and to also learn to be at ease with uncertainty when asked a question I do not know the answer to.

Why do you think you are an effective teacher?

I am honored to receive the GSTA award, but I am still learning to be an effective teacher. For now, I believe that a fundamental trait of an effective teacher is caring for students. A genuine concern for students motivates teaching with clarity with the goal of helping students understand the teaching material. At the same time, it fosters a comfortable learning environment that encourages an open exchange of ideas in class. Of course, caring for students goes beyond the teaching materials––I also strive to take on the role of a mentor to my students, such as helping students explore possible future directions, of which are opportunities that I greatly treasure.

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