During Bethanie’s sophomore year of high school, a biology teacher with amazing energy, Mr. Shu, ignited her passion for biology. “He was very creative with his assignments and activities,” recalled Bethanie. “It was in his class, learning about cell respiration, that I realized how much I enjoyed molecular biology.”
Bethanie entered Ohio State University thinking she could study biology and become the medical doctor her mother had hoped she would be. Then she met Dr. Sarah Ball. Dr. Ball taught biology for majors and her interest and energy were contagious. “I talked with Dr. Ball about her path to teaching, thought about my interests and comfort with public speaking and decided I would pursue teaching biology at the college level.” Bethanie began looking for graduate programs that would lead to a doctorate because she believed it would give her the requisite credentials to teach at the college level. Not exactly the kind of doctor her mother had in mind, but she was pursuing her passion.
When she began exploring her options, Bethanie discovered the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP), a program designed to increase the number of STEM baccalaureate and graduate degrees awarded to historically underrepresented populations in the STEM disciplines. She narrowed her search to schools that partnered in the LSAMP and landed at the University of Illinois Chicago in their Bridge to Doctorate program. She immersed herself in her studies and research, but the desire to teach kept tugging at her. It tugged so hard that she switched to the master’s program and became a teaching assistant with the goal of becoming a community college instructor. “Teaching gave me joy every day,” said Bethanie. “I began shadowing professors at the City Colleges to learn more. That was when one of them suggested I look at job opportunities at Harper.”
Harper’s Diverse Faculty Fellow program was a perfect fit. It offers up to two years of teaching experience supported by mentoring and insight into how community colleges are structured. As a Faculty Fellow, Bethanie has a content mentor, an academy mentor and a DREAM mentor. She also meets regularly with Pearl Ratunil, Special Assistant to the President for Diversity and Inclusion, and her department’s interim dean, Kimberly Polly. “Having only taught as a peer-educator and teaching assistant, this program eases me into a full-time faculty position by starting me out with a smaller class load and providing me with resources to learn about planning my own lectures, activities, projects and exams. It has been a very smooth transition.”
Bethanie joined Harper this fall and the first class she is teaching is Biology 101 for non-majors. When not in class, she is soaking up the community college experience by sitting in on Shared Governance meetings, attending the Assessment Conference and taking advantage of the many other learning opportunities offered on campus. Bethanie shared the following thoughts about Harper and teaching at a community college, the Faculty Fellows program, and a little more about who she is.
Now that you have gotten to know Bethanie virtually, stop by her office in Building Z, Room Z215, to meet her in person, introduce yourself and welcome her to Harper.
Learn more about the Diverse Faculty Fellow program.