Recent graduate Lawrence Nguyen was honored with a Fall 2017 Citation for Excellence in Teaching Chemistry. Nguyen, who a teaching assistant for two years, was humbled by the award.
“Receiving this award was somewhat of a validation for me that I’m teaching well and students enjoy coming to me,” Nguyen said. “It was nice to receive this honor, and it’s humbling too.”
Nguyen became a teaching assistant for the department her junior year and has since taught labs and recitation for Chemistry 109 and 110, and lab for Chemistry 253.
Between lab and recitation, Nguyen didn’t necessarily have a favorite to teach, as both had their pros and cons. She enjoyed the more personal interaction she had with students during lab, as she felt she was able to connect with them better.
As for recitation, she found it rewarding that she was able to help expand upon concepts taught in lecture, which had a positive impact on students’ lecture grades. If asked a year ago which one she enjoyed more, you may have gotten a different answer.
When Nguyen was first approached about teaching a recitation section, she had reservations.
“For me, I never really liked speaking in front of people. I was kind of nervous about that, but Jason Kautz reassured me,” Nguyen said.
Coordinator of General Chemistry, Prof. Jason Kautz, knew that Nguyen would do well teaching a recitation section. “Lawrence has an ability to connect with students on a personal level and explain concepts in creative ways. It’s why she was a great lab TA and why she became a great recitation TA as well,” Kautz said.
Nguyen was happy she said yes to teaching recitation sections, as it helped make her experience as a teaching assistant even more meaningful.
“It was rewarding to have students come to me and feel like there’s a trust they’re building with me,” Nguyen said. Being a teaching assistant helped her to better empathize with students and it improved her communication skills. All things she wanted to carry with her when she graduated.
Nguyen graduated in May 2018 with a double major in chemistry and biochemistry. She enrolled in optometry school at the University of Houston College of Optometry following her graduation.