The Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Graduate School has presented its Outstanding Teaching Assistant Awards to Lindani Memani at the master’s level and Huan Van Phan at the doctoral level. Memani and Van Phan will be recognized at the virtual Graduate School Awards Reception this fall and each receive a $500 award.
The Outstanding Teaching Assistant (TA) Award is designed to recognize and reward graduate students for outstanding performance in teaching and instruction.
Memani is a student in the Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of English Language and Literature. She has been teaching English Composition courses in the first-year writing program since fall 2019.
Memani’s innovative and inspiring teaching style has received the highest of praise from her faculty. “Lindani’s teaching is nothing short of amazing – inspiring, structured, student-centered, welcoming, interesting and engaging,” said English Professor Matthew Johnson, PhD, Lindani’s supervisor. “Lindani’s unique ability to establish rapport and a positive classroom environment led to her students openly engaging in a genuine, intellectual, and academic discussion, not just with her as the instructor, but also with each other.”
Memani’s teaching philosophy is centered on interactive learning and creating a welcoming classroom space. “The classroom should be a space of positive learning, where no student feels unwelcomed, neglected or unimportant,” she said. “Since becoming an instructor who engages with a diverse student population most of whom are first-generation students, I have been aware of the impact of practically enacting diversity and inclusive learning in all my student engagements, even beyond the classroom.”
Drawing from her background in mass communications, Memani has created engaging pedagogical activities that utilize TV shows and commercials to teach students to analyze rhetoric and cultural values. These innovations inspire students to actively engage in lively classroom discussions and stimulate critical thinking.
Johnson reflected on Memani’s commitment to her own learning and improvement. “Lindani is a highly reflective teacher, and one who is – and will – accomplish wonders with her students,” he said.
As the Outstanding TA at the doctoral level, Huan is a student in the School of Engineering’s Engineering Sciences cooperative PhD program with a focus in mechanical engineering. He has served as a TA t in several 300 and 400-level mechanical engineering courses since fall 2019.
Nima Lotfi, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering, and Huan’s supervisor, said, “I remember seeing him spend hours in the lab, beyond his normal office hours, explaining the subject matter to the students who were struggling.”
That dedication to learning aligns with Huan’s own teaching philosophy that “teachers should give their all to be an endless bridge which connects students to knowledge.”
In spring 2020 when the COVID pandemic suddenly forced a switch to remote learning, Lotfi said Huan quickly adapted to online teaching, and learned the tools and software that were needed to continue courses. Because of Huan’s reliability and dedication, he was chosen to teach two undergraduate courses independently during fall 2020.
Lotfi summarized Huan’s superior teaching performance, “He went above and beyond to make sure that students actually got the best learning experience.”
Outside of his teaching assistant responsibilities, Huan has also demonstrated commitment to his own learning and research, as he has been involved in developing multiple robotic platforms in the SOE’s mechatronics laboratory. A native of Saigon, Vietnam, he shares his passion for his research by always talking enthusiastically to prospective students and their families during SOE open houses.
Photo (L-R): Graduate School has presented its Outstanding Teaching Assistant Awards to Lindani Memani and Huan Van Phan.