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SU Teaching Excellence Awards: Interview with Hall-of-Famer Zenaida Roxas Boerhave

By Nikayla Goddard, May 3 2020 —

Despite isolation, excellent teaching can still be recognized and rewarded. A total of 37 instructors and teaching assistants were awarded Students’ Union Teaching Excellence Awards (TEA) based on student nominations. 

The SU TEA website cites that the awards have been handed out since 1984, and stand as a part of a lasting tradition of recognizing notable teachers: “From the start, the awards were intended to provide students with the opportunity to give feedback on the quality of university instruction. They have contributed to teaching excellence remaining a key priority for the institution, exemplified by the Eyes High vision to enrich the quality and breadth of learning at the University of Calgary.”

The nominees must consistently fill criteria laid out by the SU, and include being able to communicate the subject matter clearly and in multiple ways, show enthusiasm for the subject and teaching, deliver interesting, accurate and organized lectures, motivate and inspire their students, are sensitive to issues of gender, race, disabilities, sexual orientation, socio-economic status among other criteria.

Of the 37 winners, 10 were teaching assistants and 19 were professors / teachers with 8 honourable mentions. For a full list of winners, see the end of the article. 

There was also one induction into the teaching Hall of Fame: Zenaida Roxas Boerhave of the Faculty of Nursing. Zenaida graduated as a nurse in 2005 and has been nursing since 2006, getting into teaching a year later. She has primarily been involved in pediatrics, but adds that mental health and addiction has also been a passion of hers. 

“I’m incredibly honoured and humbled,” she said. “When I first received the Teaching Excellence Award a few years back, somebody in the nursing team had also been inducted into the Hall of Fame, and I just remember thinking to myself, ‘I’m going to get that one day,’ in whatever span of my career that looked like. And I truly thought it was going to be toward the end of my career. So for it to be what it is, at this moment, it feels amazing.”

Zenaida explained that when she got into nursing, teaching was never on her radar, and that she stumbled into it by an instructor telling her that she would be a natural teacher — she was made for teaching. 

“It’s really sweet, because my husband has always told me ‘You’re definitely meant to be a nurse, but you were born to be a teacher’.”

Zenaida lauded the awards as one of the best ways that teachers and teaching assistants can be recognized, saying, “It’s so nice to be recognized by students and to have an award like this driven by the Students’ Union and chosen by students. I think that in itself is why this is such an amazing award to have. It’s coveted by faculty across the campus.”

She added that it was especially heartwarming to receive the nomination and induction during this pandemic and isolation — she found herself emotional to receive the news, and was honoured that students took the time to still file the nomination given the crisis. 

When asked what she thought contributed to her success as a teacher, she responded that she always makes sure she is communicating with her students, constantly asking for feedback to “continue to develop and grow my own teaching repertoire. And really ensure that I give my students the best experience possible within their student nursing career.

“I think a big part of it […] is I’m always striving to model […] caring for patients with the utmost compassion and respect,” she remarked, saying that she strives hard to pull out their compassionate and empathetic qualities that she says are vital to being a great nurse. 

She is currently trying to finish her Masters in Nursing, and pursuing her Masters has allowed her to “challenge myself so that I can challenge my students to ultimately deliver the most empathetic and compassionate care to any walk of life,” she concluded.

Winners will receive an Apple Award and a framed certificate when they are able to return to campus. In addition, the SU will make a $5,000 donation in recognition of the winners to the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning.

Teaching Assistant Winners: Rebecca Booth (Faculty of Science), Austin Che (Faculty of Science), Marissa Clapson (Faculty of Science), Brandon Ferguson (Schulich School of Engineering) Dania Idriss (Faculty of Arts), Nicholas Massaro (Faculty of Kinesiology), Lauren McMillan (Faculty of Science), Ronald Miksha (Faculty of Science), Tony Stevens (Faculty of Veterinary Medicine), Ryan Toth (Faculty of Science). 

Teaching Excellence Award Winners: Dr. Fabiola Aparicio-Ting, (Cumming School of Medicine), Rachel Friedman (Faculty of Arts), Kathleen Hughes (Faculty of Arts), Safaneh Mohaghegh Neyshabouri (Faculty of Arts), Alexander Whalley (Faculty of Arts), Carol A. Gibbons Kroeker (Faculty of Kinesiology), Lorian Hardcastle (Faculty of Law), Margarita Gil (Faculty of Nursing), Dr. Ania Harlick (Faculty of Science), Peter Hoye (Faculty of Science), Jerrod Smith (Faculty of Science), Lesley Taylor (Faculty of Social Work), Campbell Rolian (Faculty of Veterinary Medicine), Phil Davidson (Haskayne School of Business), Syed Rahat Ali Jafri (Haskayne School of Business), Mina Iskander (Schulich School of Engineering), Qi Zhou (Schulich School of Engineering), Karen Dittrick (Werklund School of Education). 

Teaching Excellence Award Honourable Mentions: Judy Anderson (Faculty of Arts), Kerry Black (Schulich School of Engineering), Dr. Cari Din (Faculty of Kinesiology), Ryan Hamilton (Faculty of Science), Katherine Mueller (Werklund School of Education), Thuntida Ngamkham (Haskayne School of Business), Allen Sandwell (Schulich School of Engineering), David Wright (Faculty of Law).


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