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Photo of Timeka Gordon and Chancellor Boschini
Timeka Gordon, winner of the 2019 Wassenich Award for Mentoring in the TCU Community, with Chancellor Victor J. Boschini, Jr.

Wassenich Award Finalists Make Meaningful Impacts as Mentors

August 28, 2020

One good mentor can be life-changing. The TCU campus is packed with them — four of whom have been selected as finalists for the annual Wassenich Award for Mentoring in the TCU Community.

Created in 1999, this award recognizes and encourages faculty and staff who surpass job descriptions to mentor students through college and beyond, and who serve as role models in their personal and professional lives.

Following are this year’s four finalists along with just a few of the many admiring words from their nominators as well as an excerpt from their personal statement on mentoring.

Chancellor Victor J. Boschini Jr. will announce the winner of the Wassenich Award for Mentoring in the TCU Community at a virtual convocation planned for Tuesday, Sept. 15 (more details to come).

Giridhar Akkaraju, Ph.D., professor and chair, Department of Biology

From his nominator: “One of the biggest lessons I have learned from Dr. Akkaraju is to always be curious. Dr. Akkaraju loves getting to know people, even to the point of claiming himself as being ‘nosy.’ He won’t hesitate to take a genuine interest in the people around him — where they come from, what inspires them, what they are working toward.”

From his personal statement: “My favorite part, naturally, is helping them develop their scientific and critical thinking skills. But besides that I try to make them skeptical listeners and readers, to teach them not to accept facts as given but to question everything. This can be uncomfortable for many, but most of my students ‘get’ what I am trying to do.”

Joanne Connor Green, Ph.D., professor of political science

From her nominator: “Dr. Green has taught me to not be afraid of my own dreams. During my time in D.C. I felt like my dreams were too ambitious or too big for me to achieve. When I told Dr. Green I hoped one day to run for political office, she didn’t even blink and told me, ‘You’d be really good at that! Let me know when you run and I’ll be your first donor!’ Those two sentences right there taught me that I am capable of achieving my dreams and that I have support already.”

From her personal statement: “It took me decades to realize that a sign of a truly strong person is the willingness to ask for help. I share my life experiences with my students. I am present for them. I respect them. I urge them to own their educations — to claim their place in the world.”

Kim Turner, director of Student Activities

From her nominator: “The most important lesson that Kim has taught me is that projects take time. She has always held that good results only come from not only critical thinking, but meticulous research. This lesson is something that is expected in the classroom, but is largely absent among college students in their extracurricular pursuits.”

From her personal statement: “Mentoring students is at the core of what I do because I was, and still am, the recipient of mentoring myself. I know firsthand that mentoring matters.”

Wendy Williams, Ph.D., associate professor of professional practice, John V. Roach Honors College

From her nominator: “Dr. Williams taught me, above all, the power of being intentional with our actions and our emotions. I had hurled myself off the deep end and she provided an outlet for me to work through what had been stuck in my head. She also gave me a space and opportunity to be a mentor in the classroom, which launched me into my teaching career in my graduate program.”

From her personal statement: “Although only one of my courses is titled Empathy, in reality all of my courses are about empathy. In my classes, I ask students to step outside of their familiar social communities and connect with unfamiliar ones. Experiential learning plays an important role in this endeavor. I offer opportunities to engage the global community (at TCU and beyond) so that students can gain real-world experience.”