NAU rewards exceptional graduate teaching assistants

Gina Blue
Gina Blue
Hilary Nemchik
Hilary Nemchik

Two NAU graduate students who encourage and inspire undergraduates received 2007-08 Graduate Teaching Assistant Awards.

Gina Blue, a graduate teaching assistant for Spanish in the Department of Modern Languages, and Hilary Nemchik, a graduate teaching assistant for public speaking in the School of Communication, recently were honored for their teaching achievements and professional development.

Each award winner received $1,000 and a plaque and were honored at a reception by the Graduate College and Faculty Development Program.

“We are grateful for their talent, professionalism and dedication to their disciplines and their students,” said Ramona Mellott, dean of the Graduate College.

About 300 graduate students at NAU, or 5 percent, are teaching assistants. “Their contribution to undergraduate education at NAU is substantial,” Mellott noted.

In March, NAU President John Haeger further cemented NAU’s commitment to graduate assistants by increasing their tuition remission from 50 percent to 75 percent for those who work at least 20 hours a week. Those who work between 10 and 19 hours a week received a 37.5 percent tuition remission.

Blue hopes she is setting an example for undergraduates.

“My philosophy as a teacher is to be a role model for my students, to inspire them to continue learning Spanish and to assist them in learning the content of the course well,” Blue said.

Nemchik finds teaching a challenging task and the award recognition “truly rewarding.”

“For me, teaching is not just about dispersing information and hoping it sticks in the minds of students,” Nemchik said. “It is about knowing the students and sparking a curiosity that provokes them to go out and uncover new knowledge.”

Blue was nominated by Joe Collentine, a professor in modern languages. Mark Neumann, director for the School of Communication, nominated Nemchik.

Other nominees included graduate teaching assistants Janee D. Dunn in applied communication,Curtis Kleinman in modern languages, and Kinsey Pell in psychology.