Mead recipent goes ‘big’ for students

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By AUSTIN ASHBY Staff Reporter

The Mead Award for Faculty Excellence was awarded to two people this year. One of the two is biology professor Claudie Biggers.

“She is always ready to try something new and innovative which makes it fun working here and fun for the students,” Gerek Burford, STEM research center director, said. 

Along with being a biology professor, Biggers is also the project director of the Hispanic-Serving Instituton STEM grant.

 “A lot of what we focus on is how to get the students out of their seats doing new projects and not just listening to a lecture,” Burford said.

This drive to find new ways to present topics and ideas comes from something Biggers was seeing in her field of work.

“I am in the STEM field where classes should be fun and engaging, but through the years, instructors have replaced the participatory component with seated lectures,” Biggers said. “I try to get the students out of their seats with theme-based learning experiences that answer research driven questions.”

Biggers added that everyone has different learning styles and it is important to build meaningful relationships with your coworkers and students. She said that it is the only way to help students succeed. 

“It is such a huge honor to be identified as the Mead Award winner because it is an award chosen by my peers and my students,” Biggers said. “The award validates the importance of serving students beyond the classroom.”

Biggers has helped with many projects, such as the National Science Foundation grant and the grant for the STEM Research Center.

“That was a real challenging project,” Teresa Clemons, senior director of grants, said “It took almost a year of planning before we went to submit it.” 

Clemons went on to say that after putting together the winning proposal, Biggers also headed up the team to help design the greenhouses with experts’ input. 

She also said that even when the team was stressed out, Biggers would always find a way to make everyone smile.

Biggers’s drive to connect with her students extends outside the classroom and even outside the city, as shown when she traveled with Clemons to Gaston College in North Carolina to work with the faculty and staff on a grant.

“She made a connection with everyone,” Clemons said. “She wants to make learning a wonderful experience and light a fire under her students to want to know more, do more, explore and research.”

The second 2019 Mead recipient, Jessica Hill, instructor and director of the medical assisting program, will be profiled in the next issue of The Ranger.

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