On April 5, USF College of Public Health doctoral student Aldenise Ewing was awarded the 2017 Provost’s Award for Outstanding Teaching by a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Health, Medicine and Behavioral Science category. The award is presented by the USF Academy for Teaching and Learning Excellence.
This award was established in 1998 to recognize the exemplary contributions made by graduate teaching assistants (TAs) to excellence in undergraduate education.
To be considered for the award, Ewing submitted an e-portfolio, which comprised of a CV, teaching narrative statement, statement on innovation and success, reports from student evaluations and video of her teaching an actual class.
“Winning this award really does come as a surprise and truly means a lot to me. Having taught the undergraduate health disparities course for the first time in the fall of 2016, my hope was for students to come out of the class with a greater understanding of social justice issues that are affecting health equity and ways in which they could be addressed,” Ewing said.
Ewing is from Pulaski, Tenn., a small town an hour south of Nashville. She and her three sisters, one of whom has her PhD, are all first generation college graduates.
During her sophomore year of undergrad at Vanderbilt University, she was introduced to public health.
“Like many others, I was pre-med and forward thinking that medical school was the next step. However, I had just decided to major in Medicine, Health and Society and was taking the intro course with Dr. David Boyd. The course was amazing and introduced me to the deeply rooted social justice issues and systemic issues within our health care system that contributed to health inequities,” Ewing said. “I knew then that I would like to dedicate my career to eliminating these social injustices and systematic issues through a career in public health.”
After receiving her BA degree in Spanish and medicine from Vanderbilt University in 2009, she went on to earn her MPH in behavioral science and health education from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health in 2011 and is now pursuing her PhD at the USF COPH within the Department of Community and Family Health.
Ewing taught two semesters of the USF Intro to Health Disparities class for the 2016-2017 academic year with the lead instructor for the course, Dr. Alicia Best, assistant professor in the Department of Community and Family Health.
Ewing also worked alongside Deidre Orriola, instructor II for COPH undergraduate programs, to develop the course content and materials. Because the topic of health disparities is broad and complex, Ewing offered students content that was current, comprehensive and diverse in opinion.
Beyond being informed, she also wanted students to leave the class session feeling challenged. Therefore, she invited guest lecturers who she saw as content experts.
“I would be remiss without a big thank you to all of the guest lecturers who visited the class. I know from student feedback, that having these guest lecturers has made a lasting impression,” Ewing said.
While her class covered many topics that ranged from racism and politics to global health issues, she did find time to have a little fun, for example making a rendition of the popular Mannequin Challenge with the class.
Ewing said her research interests and passion for public health are directly aligned with work in addressing health disparities and inequities. She wanted to give students the opportunity to connect with course topics and leave with an idea of where they might begin a career in public health and research.
“Even after two semesters of teaching the class, I still have so many ideas for what could be incorporated into the class to enhance the experience of students. This award motivates and inspires me to continue to bring innovative approaches to the delivery of such an important topic,” she said.
Long-term, Ewing wants to continue teaching. She aspires to become a tenured college professor and have the opportunity to mentor students who are dedicated to increasing the quality of health and healthcare for underserved populations.
Story by Caitlin Keough, USF College of Public Health
Tags: Aldenise Ewing, Alicia Best, Deidre Orriola, Department of Community and Family Health, health disparities, Outstanding teaching, Provost's Award for Outstanding Teaching by a Graduate Assistant, undergraduate education, USF Academy for Teaching and Learning Excellence