TA Learns She Has More than a Knack for Teaching
Biology Major Earns Award from School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
June 11, 2009
When molecular biology major Rebekah Sessoms agreed to tutor fellow undergrads in biochemistry, she found out she had a passion – not to mention a flair – for the job.
Faculty, staff and students at the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics were so impressed with her abilities that Dean Myron Salamon presented her with an Outstanding Teaching Award.
Sessoms was a biochemistry teaching assistant (TA) for Dr. Robert Marsh, senior lecturer III. The molecular biology major has had plans to apply to medical school but thinks she now may also factor teaching into her plans.
“I rank Rebekah among the three best teaching assistants, graduate and undergraduate included, that I have had during 33 years of university teaching,” Marsh said. “Her enthusiasm, which was clearly evident from before the start of the semester, never flagged. Some people have a real vibe for motivating students, and Rebekah is one of these. I would say she is a born teacher.”
Sessoms held weekly workshops on class and homework topics and was available six hours each week for tutoring in the library. She created a Web site where she posted class lectures, homework help, biochemistry games and other information students could use to study for class. Students routinely e-mailed her questions, and her goal was to respond within a day, or less.
“I am thrilled that Dr. Marsh asked me to be one of the TAs for this class,” Sessoms said. “Though I agreed to be one of his TAs, I was unaware of the effect that this responsibility would have on me.”
Until this semester, Sessoms said she didn’t realize how much she enjoyed teaching.
“I’m elated I received this teaching award!” Sessoms said. “I have always enjoyed helping fellow students in any way that I could, but I now know that teaching will most likely be a part of my future. The feedback that I received from students in the class was wonderful and helped motivate me even more to do the best that I could to help them learn the material.”