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Students recognize outstanding biology and humanities faculty

by Public Relations and Marketing | Published Apr 09, 2021

College of Lake County (CLC) students voted biology professor Marsha Hay and adjunct humanities instructor Mandi Urban outstanding faculty member awards. The Illinois Community College Trustees Association in cooperation with the CLC Board of Trustees and the Student Government Association annually sponsor nominations of full-time and adjunct faculty for award recognition. These instructors rose above the technology challenges during the pandemic and managed to go above and beyond the needs of their students.

Both faculty members were recognized for their achievements at the April Committee of the Whole Trustees Meeting.

Biology Instructor Marsha Hay

Biology Instructor Marsha Hay receiving her awardHay loves teaching biology, anatomy and physiology. Her passion for discovering how the human body works speaks to her students. She also recognizes not all students learn the same way, so she includes videos, drawings, text, animations and collaborative activities to help facilitate learning.

“No matter where the student is in their life entering my classroom, I work to provide them with the tools to be as successful as possible to reach their academic goals,” said Hay. “Education is a lifelong adventure. As students prepare for their programs and careers, they will forever be building a knowledge base to better serve their communities.”

One student comment in her nomination says, “Professor Hay is beyond professional, friendly, helpful. She takes time to answer questions so we understand it and she has a great sense of humor that keeps everyone engaged.”

Hay sets her intention to connect with each student to better understand why they are in her class and what struggles they have in and out of the classroom. Even when modalities shifted online, Hay continued to meet with each individual student on Zoom.

Hay says, “It is amazing to make that connection with each student especially when so many of them do hide behind their black box in Zoom during our class discussion. I want each of my students to know I’m here to facilitate and support their learning, but not to hand feed them the material or their grade. Work is required in my class because life will not make it any easier on them.”

Humanities Instructor Mandi Urban

In addition to being a tutor in the Writing Center, Urban is also a valued and collaborative colleague in the legal studies department. Since her class “Critical Thinking: U.S. Supreme Court Cases” debuted in 2008, student demand for the content keeps growing.

Humanities Instructor Mandi Urban  receiving her awardOne student describes Urban’s class as the hardest they’ve ever taken, “I learn things I never thought I would learn. Professor Urban makes you think things through so you can use it in your real life with your everyday thought process. I use a lot of the critical thinking theories in conversations or at work or even in relationships. The growth of this one class has completely made me think differently in my life. It was a life-changing class and I’ll never forget it or her. She was phenomenal.”

To foster a community of learners, Urban presents each of her classes with a learning pact describing the roles everyone plays as active participants. She also works diligently to create a fun, safe, respectful and encouraging environment of learners where students are comfortable participating, asking questions, making mistakes and being themselves.

“As partners in learning, we do not begin as skilled craftsmen,” describes Urban. “I am the teacher of tools and how to use or misuse them, but each of us is the builder. The building process is different for all, but with patience and dedication, all have what it takes to become master builders.”

Urban is also a valued and collaborative colleague in the humanities department. She is an example of how great instructors constantly reinvent to stay current and motivate students.

About College of Lake County:

The College of Lake County is a comprehensive community college committed to equitable high-quality education, cultural enrichment and partnerships to advance the diverse communities it serves in northeastern Illinois. Offered at three campuses in Grayslake, Vernon Hills and Waukegan or online, college classes are affordable and accessible to help each student achieve academic, career and personal goals. More than 70,000 students graduated with degrees and certificates since the college opened in 1969. The College of Lake County is the only higher-education institution ranked among the top 15 best places to work in Illinois by Forbes and is a national leader in many areas, including sustainability and conservation.