Sociology and modern languages GTAs earn graduate student teaching excellence awards
MANHATTAN — Two graduate students have been awarded the GSC Award for Graduate Student Teaching Excellence, sponsored by Kansas State University's Graduate Student Council.
The master's award winner is Andrea Fernanda Ramírez Tello, master's student in modern languages, Mexico City, Mexico. Her major professor is Li Yang, associate professor of Modern Languages. The doctoral graduate award winner is Trina Knight, doctoral candidate in sociology, Hastings, Nebraska. Her major professor is Kevin Steinmetz, professor of sociology, anthropology and social work.
The GSC Award for Graduate Student Teaching Excellence recognizes graduate teaching assistants who have excelled in classroom teaching. The award promotes the important contributions graduate students make to the scholarship of the university. Ramírez Tello and Knight will represent the university for the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools, or MAGS, Excellence in Teaching Award, with a winner selected at both the master's and the doctoral levels. Since the teaching award was established in 2011, K-State has had six winners, the most from any university.
Both Ramírez Tello and Knight receive a $500 scholarship. Their names and departments will be engraved on a perpetual plaque displayed in their departments until the next awards are given.
" Ramírez Tello and Knight are outstanding examples of the high quality of teaching and mentorship that our graduate teaching assistants provide K-State undergraduates," said Claudia Petrescu, vice provost for graduate education and dean of the Graduate School. "Our GTAs contribute to enhancing the undergraduate experience while gaining valuable skills. Graduate teaching enhances their preparedness for rewarding careers and increase their competitiveness for future positions. I am excited that these two successful graduate teaching assistants, Knight and Ramírez Tello, will represent K-State well in the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools competition this spring."
"I firmly believe that learning languages helps us to connect and communicate effectively with other cultures, which is an essential skill and value to have in a multicultural world,” Ramírez Tellosaid. "Therefore, my role as a language teacher and linguist is not only to help my students develop communicative skills in a second language, but also to develop effective intercultural skills."
Ramírez Tello says that in the coming years she hopes to further her career with a doctorate in applied linguistics to complement her undergraduate and master's studies.
Knight said she believes the position of instructor is one of both great responsibility and privilege.
"As a student of the social sciences, I approach teaching with the understanding that knowledge production and acquisition are inherently social processes," Knight said. "I have found that students are most successful when they are not simply told facts about the social world but are shown how and why these social processes happen and matter in their everyday lives. The goal of my teaching is to assist students in developing empathy and an understanding of what it means to truly serve others. I seek to help students to not simply recognize the existence of difference, but to also understand the processes through which difference is created through complex sociological processes and interactions."
Knight's goal is to use her academic research and teaching experience in combination with her non-academic work with social services to prepare for a career in student life and student affairs. She believes that that her greatest strengths are finding and making resource connections and collaboratively creating plans for success.
Ramírez Tello and Knight will compete for a $750 honorarium that will be presented at the 78th annual Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools meeting, which will be April 6-8, 2022, in Milwaukee. One master's student and one doctoral student are selected for the award.
The Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools is a regional affiliate of the Council of Graduate Schools. The association's member colleges and universities are accredited institutions of higher education in the central U.S. that offer graduate programs leading to masters, specialist and doctorate degrees.