I wrote this story and posted it to the Liberal Arts Website on March 6, 2016. The story covers some Liberal Arts graduate students who won an award for outstanding teaching abilities.
While I didn’t personally find it very challenging to write this story, or even get all the interviews together, I suppose I learned quite a bit of patience from it, as the story vanished into the editing void for close to a month after I sent the first draft to my supervisor. Here’s the text of the story:
Once a year, department heads from the College of Liberal Arts recognize outstanding graduate students with the Murray and Celeste Fasken Distinguished Graduate Student Teaching Awards. This year’s recipients are Nicholas Conway, Neall Pogue, Guillermo García Ureña, Ashley Yaugher, and Wei Zhan.
Conway is a Ph.D. candidate in political science.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to win this award,” he said. “It’s recognition by your peers and by the college that reinforces these beliefs you have in the nobility of teaching.”
Conway earned his bachelor’s degree at Wabash College in Indiana, and attended law school at Indiana University. He practiced law for eight years before coming to A&M, where he is working on his dissertation on how changes to federal rules of civil procedure have impacted the number of court cases that actually make it to trial. Conway teaches an introductory course on political research methods (an applied statistics course), and an upper-level constitutional law course on constitutional rights and civil liberties. He hopes to continue to work in academia after earning his degree, and winning the Fasken award has greatly encouraged him.
Pogue has been teaching for the past two years, and is currently teaching a course on world civilizations to the year 1500. In February, he successfully defended his dissertation over the relationship between conservative and environmental beliefs. He earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. He went on to get his master’s degree from the University of North Dakota after teaching at the high school level for several years in Florida. He plans to graduate with a Ph.D in environmental history in May.
Of the Fasken award, he says, “It’s always nice for your work to be acknowledged, and to validate your time spent on a particular job.”
Guillermo García Ureña
García Ureña is a third-year graduate student in Hispanic Studies. He’s worked with Texas A&M since the fall of 2013 teaching Spanish. García Ureña said he is honored to receive the Fasken award, and sees what could be described as a higher calling when it comes to education.
“When I enter the classroom and I see the students looking at me, I feel the responsibility to do the best I can,” he said. “I want to make our time together valuable.”
García Ureña earned his bachelor’s in philosophy in Spain, at the Universidad de Complutense, and completed his master’s degree in Freiburg, Germany. He came to A&M after hearing good things about the department of Hispanic Studies. His dissertation covers the persecution of the Marranos, a persecuted group accused of being “crypto-Jews” and “false Christians” from the Spanish Inquisition, and their cultural and literary impact.
Yaugher is a fifth-year Ph.D candidate in clinical psychology. Teaching and research mentorship is a passion of hers. She mentors undergraduate students in the Brain and Gender Lab and teaches courses in psychology, including Introduction to Psychology and Abnormal Psychology. Her dissertation examines gender differences in internalizing and externalizing disorders in emerging adulthood. After defending her dissertation, she will complete a year-long doctoral psychology internship. Ultimately wants to work in an academic hospital where she can continue to develop her clinical, research, and teaching skills.
“It’s an honor,” she said, speaking of winning the Fasken award. “It is very encouraging to keep pursuing teaching as part of my career.”
Zhan is a fourth-year economics graduate student, and her work focuses on charitable giving and altruism. She uses “real donation” decisions, where a subject earns or is given an endowment, and then has an opportunity to make a donation to a charitable organization. This environment provides a kind of test to explore factors that improve fundraising efficiency. She has worked as a teacher’s assistant for several econ classes, and teaches an experimental economics course. Zhan recalls hearing the news about winning the Fasken award from her advisor first.
“I said, ‘Really? Are you sure it’s me?’” she said. “I feel honored, I’ll say. It’s really great. I enjoy teaching, because to me teaching itself is also a learning experience. I love it.”
Zhan earned her bachelor’s degree from the People’s University in China, and began her master’s degree at University of Texas at Dallas before transferring to Texas A&M.