Two nursing faculty members and an adjunct allied health instructor were singled out by their students and peers for the TLC Fellowship Award recognizing exemplary teaching during the 2021-2022 academic year.

The winners are nursing professors Dr. Jennifer Ritter and Maria Thomas and radiologic technology instructor Monica Dzupinka. The three were selected by YC’s Teaching and Learning Committee, or TLC, based on nominations submitted by their students and colleagues. The winners were announced during the annual Summer Institute earlier this month.

Jennifer and Maria are also previous winners of the “YC Way Award” for Learning Excellence -- the college’s highest employee honor.

Following are excerpts from TLC Award student nominations.

For Jennifer:

“Dr. Ritter is an amazing teacher, and she reignites the eagerness to learn in nursing students. She made me realize I am doing what I have wanted to do all along. She makes all of us excited to show up to class and learn…”

For Maria:

“Professor Thomas really is the glue that holds me together in nursing school. Nursing school is extremely overwhelming and different than anything I ever have done. She listens and walks us through everything. She makes us better people and better nurses with her compassion, experience, empathy and just overall her fun personality. “

For Monica:

“… Our class would be struggling without her help and dedication to us students. That kind of dedication inspires me to do my best as a student. If my teacher is putting 110% into us, that makes me want to put even more effort into my studies. She is the perfect example of Yavapai College's slogan You Can!

As TLC Award tradition dictates, winners are asked to share some remarks about teaching with their colleagues. Jennifer and Maria delivered their remarks together, asserting that nursing instruction and nursing students are unique.

“I think because we actually sort of grow with that student body for two years… causes a relationship that’s a little different than in other courses,” Maria said, adding that inspiration is reciprocal in nursing school. Recalling a group of “brand new, shiny” first-semester students who unquestioningly agreed to assist at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Phoenix, even though they hadn’t yet learned to give injections, Maria said, “this is just an example of how much these students really want to be here and really care about becoming nurses.”

Jennifer said she prides herself on being open and transparent and her students respond in kind. “Being faculty for nursing is very diverse. It’s never a dull moment. It’s just a wonderful job. I don’t even look at this as a job,” she said. Saying she “felt compelled” to prepare something different for the TLC Awards ceremony, Monica recited a poem she wrote about the joys and challenges of teaching. Her recitation of the entire poem is available to view on YC’s YouTube channel here:

An excerpt of Monica’s poem follows:

It’s an honor to be a part of someone becoming their best self,
To have an impact on their journey,
To watch them gradually bloom, some late and some early,
To observe the dissolve of their worry.
Replaced by confidence
And competence,
To watch them start to shine
Brighter every day when things have started to align.
And I find
A unique pride knowing inside
That their successes are also mine.

Additional information about the TLC Award and the names of past winners can be found here.