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4 UCSB Graduate Students Win 2014-2015 Academic Senate Outstanding Teaching Assistant Awards

Winners of the 2014-2015 Academic Senate Outstanding Teaching Assistant Awards are, from left, Mario Galicia Jr., Keith Avery, Selvi Ersoy, and Jeremy Chow. Photos by: Patricia Marroquin

Four UCSB graduate student teaching assistants who are passionate about what they do were honored on Thursday, April 23, for their efforts in the classroom and beyond.

Chancellor Henry Yang and Academic Senate Chair Kum-Kum Bhavnani present Mario Galicia Jr. with the award.The Academic Senate annually recognizes the vital role that teaching assistants play to the teaching mission of the university. The Senate's awards honor the contributions of graduate student TA’s to the teaching and learning process of UC Santa Barbara.

This year’s recipients are: Keith Avery (master’s student, Computer Science); Jeremy Chow (Ph.D. student, English); Selvi Ersoy (Ph.D. student, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology); and Mario Galicia Jr. (Ph.D. student, Education).

At a reception in the winners’ honor before the awards presentation, Mario Galicia – who will receive his Ph.D. this year – told the GradPost that since his doctoral studies are coming to an end, this award is “like coming full circle.”

Selvi Ersoy with Chancellor Yang.“It’s really nice to get validated for your work,” added Mario, who spoke about his research in Preliminary Round 6 of the Grad Slam earlier this month. “It’s practicing what you preach, putting it into the actual classroom, and then having somebody say, ‘Hey, you’re doing a good job,’” he said. Mario called it “the greatest honor we can get as a graduate student” to have the award come from the Academic Senate, knowing that the faculty were the ones looking at the applications. “It’s always nice to know that what you’re doing is right.”

Selvi Ersoy, who was a finalist in this year’s Grad Slam, was excited and “extremely happy” to learn she had won this award. “I feel like I always try really hard for my students,” she said at the reception. She said her dedication to teaching is not dependent upon an award. “But I think it was a nice validation of how much I do try to be an effective teacher.”

Keith Avery, who is in his sixth quarter of TAing, said it has been “an Keith Avery with Chancellor Yang and Chair Bhavnani.extremely rewarding experience for me the whole time I’ve been doing it.” He is thankful, he said, “for everyone who’s helped me here – my students, my advisor, other people involved in my life.”

He likes the one-on-one approach of working with students during office hours. “I really enjoy connecting with the students. It’s important to me for them to understand what I’m trying to get across. I make that a priority when I’m doing my teaching and also in personal meetings.”

Jeremy Chow jokingly told his students and others offering him congratulations that this award had to be some sort of a hoax, since he’s only in the second year of his Ph.D. program. Although he was surprised, he said the honor is “unbelievably rewarding.”

The award shouldn’t have been much of a surprise to Jeremy, who had taught high school before coming to UCSB; and taught at the graduate level while pursuing his master’s degree.

Jeremy Chow with Chancellor Yang and Chair Bhavnani.“Teaching is a passion of mine,” Jeremy said at the reception. “That’s what I want to do for the rest of my career, as I imagine so many of us do. We so rarely in our teaching fields get some sort of commendation or understanding of the efforts and energies that we put into our teaching. This is a wonderful opportunity for the university to recognize educators who are invested in educating our students.”

The Academic Senate also honored six professors with Distinguished Teaching Awards; and three other professors won Outstanding Graduate Mentor Awards.

For a list of all the winners, and to read comments made about them, go to the Academic Senate’s webpage on the 2014-2015 winners. Also, read the Office of Public Affairs and Communications news release and view its photo slide show.

Congratulations to everyone!

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