Six Graduate Center Students and Professors Win Teaching and Mentoring Awards

September 24, 2019

Congratulations to students Nora Carr, Anna Paltseva, and Alison Parks and professors Michelle Fine, Mahesh Lakshman, and Nancy K. Miller.

Anna Paltseva, Professor Michelle Fine, Professor Nancy K. Miller, Nora Carr, and Alison Parks.

From left: Anna Paltseva, Professor Michelle Fine, Professor Nancy K. Miller, Nora Carr, and Alison Parks.

The Graduate Center presented its second annual Teaching and Mentoring Awards to three doctoral students and three faculty members at a ceremony yesterday.

In congratulating the winners, Interim President James Muyskens observed that there is no more important job in the world than teaching and that he frequently hears from CUNY graduates about the teachers who changed their lives. 
Doctoral students who received the award:
Nora Carr (Comparative Literature), who has taught at Queens College in both the English department and in the Department of European Languages and Literatures since 2012. Carr was a Writing Across the Curriculum Fellow and is currently a teaching assistant at New York University. “When students feel that they are included in a community of learning, they are more open, more motivated, and more likely to take intellectual risks,” Carr says. “I foster a sense of community in my classroom by encouraging students to interact with and respond to each other during class discussions ¾ not just with me, but to regard the interventions of their peers with as much thoughtfulness and respect as they do mine.”
Anna Paltseva (Earth and Environmental Sciences), who taught classes at Brooklyn College that led her to further teaching opportunities at the Brooklyn and New York Botanical Gardens and at NYU. She has also been a mentor to high school students in lab work and research. “I make connections and analogies beyond the class material that are relevant to students’ lives and experiences and have students do the same,” she says. “By sharing my personal and research experience, I relate to my students and become more approachable.”
Alison Parks (Political Science), who completed the Women and Gender Studies Certificate Program in 2017. Parks was a teaching fellow at Baruch College and, since 2016, has taught Women and Gender in Western Political Thought and Biopolitics at Hunter College, and was a Writing Across the Curriculum Fellow. In her biopolitics course, she says, “students discussed [queer youth suicide] earnestly and critically, fluently deploying concepts that I had not encountered until graduate school. The experience reminded me of the value of treating my students as future peers in the production of knowledge and was a testament to the academic excellence that CUNY houses within its diverse student body.”
The three faculty recipients:
Distinguished Professor Michelle Fine (Psychology, Urban Education), who has taught at The Graduate Center since 1992. Fine also serves as deputy executive officer of the psychology department and founding faculty member and co-director of The Public Science Project. Her research focuses on participatory action and studies of social injustice and resistance, and she is the recipient of many awards for her scholarship in public policy, social justice, and higher education, and for mentoring.
Professor Mahesh Lakshman (Chemistry), who has taught at The Graduate Center and City College for close to 20 years. He served as the executive officer of the chemistry department here and was the initial mentor of some 75 doctoral students. He also received a CCNY Mentoring Award in 2003. One mark of his dedication to his students is that all of his Ph.D. students have been authors or coauthors on publications, credentials that are central to their future work. In addition to mentoring doctoral students, Lakshman has mentored undergraduates and masters students, and many of them have been coauthors on publications.
Distinguished Professor Nancy K. Miller (English, French, Comparative Literature, Master’s Program in Women’s and Gender Studies), who has taught at The Graduate Center since 1988 and has been a visiting professor and lecturer at universities from Ohio State to Hebrew University. Miller is the author or editor of more than a dozen books, including family memoirs, personal essays, and literary criticism whose students credit her for her indefatigable support and as a trusted adviser. 

Photo credit: Alex Irklievski