Hello again! I hope your day is just as beautiful as Illinois right now. It’s all blue skies and seventy degrees here. I love it!

Today my joy of engineering is: professors and TAs care.

At such a large university, it can be easy to feel like a number rather than a human being. Large lectures of 300 people can be kind of scary and overwhelming. Sometimes I have to take class with professors who teach because it’s in the job requirement, not because they like it. This is inevitable and I know I’ve been desensitized to this fact over the past few years.

For the past month, I’ve been serving as one of the undergraduates on a committee of faculty and staff talking about how to improve undergraduate education as a whole called C-CUE. As an engineering student, it’s easy to notice that the focus of most of my science and engineering professors is on their research, not their students. This is precisely why I enjoyed being on C-CUE. I loved every moment spent with this committee because the ultimate tone underlying our discussions was compassion for students. These professors, academics, leaders of the university, etc. truly care about making sure every student leaves the university completely transformed by his or her education. And I think that together these people have the power to change undergraduate education and inspire more academic professionals to care about their undergraduates.

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Karen Hyman, one of my first professors at Illinois, has become a mentor to me. She also served on C-CUE with me. I really appreciate how much she cares about her students (including me!). She awarded the Golden Shamrock by Knights of St. Patrick for 2014.

Also, as my discussion sections end, I must reiterate my appreciation for people in my academic life who care that I succeed as a student. Most of my discussion sections in college have consisted of graduate student TAs (teaching assistants) who worked out problems to teach me and my fellow undergraduate students how to apply difficult concepts learned in lecture. Throughout my college career, I have been very lucky to have discussion sections with some great TAs who were excellent teachers. This post goes out to my two TAs this semester: Andy for mass transfer and Andrea for engineering statistics (as well as my former TAs from previous semesters). These graduate students know what we don’t understand and teach material in such a way that I know what’s important and useful. So to any TA or former TA who might be reading this, thank you. You are greatly appreciated.


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