An American proverb opines that "to teach is to touch a life forever." While it may be true that some students view academics as a glorified checklist of irrelevant obstacles, I have been greatly impacted by the many instructors I have had throughout my academic career, both in and out of the classroom. In addition to transferring knowledge and awakening love of learning, the teachers I have had fostered an innate drive to serve others with the gifts they had given me. They fueled my desire to encourage, challenge, and inspire others in the same way that I have been inspired.
An important prerequisite to challenging and inspiring students is the ability to present concepts clearly. My research and coursework have given me ample opportunity to practice speaking in a variety of settings. I have participated in several poster symposiums, including one at IBM's Watson research lab and another at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. I have given course lectures in introductory computer science and database systems. I have also presented my experimental findings to my research group, visitors from academia and industry, and in a conference setting. Speaking in a variety of venues has given me the confidence to present the subject at hand clearly regardless of audience composition and has provided plenty of practice fielding tough questions.
My practical teaching experience includes participation in the Intel mentor program and teaching assistantships in several classes at Georgia Tech. The Intel mentor program is a collaboration between Georgia Tech's computing and engineering disciplines and Intel Corp. that is designed to encourage women and underrepresented minorities to pursue careers in computer science and electrical engineering. Mentors are responsible for directing students in the completion of a semester-long project culminating in an end-of-term poster. I have also served as a teaching assistant in various capacities, including project design, weekly lectures, and one-on-one and small group assistance.
Throughout my life I have held myself to a high standard of personal excellence in recognition of the sacrifices that others have made for me. Setting a marginal level of expectation is a sure way to achieve mediocre results, so I set high expectations for those in my charge in the hope that they will rise to the challenge. Expectation, however, must be balanced with a realistic view of the student's capabilities. I encourage open and honest communication with my students and do my best to convey to them a sense of importance and personal pride. My hope is that any students I encounter will be challenged to achieve excellence and, by accepting the challenge, that they will exceed their own expectations and simultaneously spur me to greater heights.
I expect that teaching as a professor will be an educational endeavor in itself, from selecting appropriate course materials to engaging students daily at a level that captivates their attention while remaining relevant. The thought of unexpected challenges and adventures excites me with the thrill of an artisan long in preparation for the practice of his craft.
It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken the joy in creative expression and knowledge.