PhD student Shanda Vereen recognized for outstanding teaching

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On April 20, USF College of Public Health PhD student Shanda Veeren received the 2020 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 to excellence in undergraduate education.

To be considered for the award, Vereen submitted an e-portfolio, which comprised of her CV, teaching philosophy, teaching narrative, a brief essay on innovative methods she used in the classroom, a short teaching video and a summary of her teaching evaluations. The ATLE team scored all submissions using a pre-determined rubric.

Vereen said that she was very excited to receive the reward and that it brought some unexpected sunshine during the “stay at home” order.

“Teaching is very rewarding, but it definitely requires a lot of hard work and effort. I think this award shows that all of the effort and prep-work that goes into each class or each lesson does not go unnoticed,” she said. “I love being in the classroom and engaging with students, so I think this award solidifies that I am doing the work that I am supposed to be doing at this time.”

PhD student Shanda Veeren speaking at USF Health Research Day. (Photo by Zachary Murray)
PhD student Shanda Veeren speaking at USF Health Research Day. (Photo by Zachary Murray)

After graduating with her BS in biology from Howard University in Washington, DC and her MSPH from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Vereen came to the COPH to pursue a PhD in public health with a concentration in community and family health.

She is also an affiliate with the McKnight Doctoral Fellowship Program and serves as a mentor for the MCH Undergraduate Pipeline Program (MCH Train-a-Bull).

“I am interested in community-engaged research initiatives that empower voices within the community to share their experiences, provide resources to address health issues and inform structural change,” Vereen said.

Shanda Vereen presenting her poster at USF Health Research Day. (Photo by Zachary Murray)
Shanda Vereen presenting her poster at USF Health Research Day. (Photo by Zachary Murray)

Vereen’s ultimate goal is to help educate and cultivate the skills of future public health professionals through her teaching and providing research opportunities for her students. She would like to obtain a job in academia where she can pursue research opportunities in parent-adolescent sexual health communication while also teaching undergraduate and graduate students.

“This award encourages me to seek out ways to continue to improve my teaching methods and gives me the confidence that I need to pursue my future goal of teaching at the graduate level,” she said.

The COPH also had Tara Foti, PhD candidate, receive an honorable mention for the health, medicine and behavioral health category as well.

Story by Caitlin Keough, USF College of Public Health