Rebecca Jane Austin-Datta, a third-year doctoral student in epidemiology at the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions, has received a Graduate Student Teaching Award presented by the UF Graduate School.
The award recognizes the best, brightest and most industrious of UF’s graduate teaching assistants for their work as instructors in the classroom and laboratory. Austin-Datta was honored at an awards ceremony held April 6 at Emerson Alumni Hall.
“Rebecca has dedicated herself to teaching excellence and this is a well-deserved recognition of her efforts,” said Cindy Prins, Ph.D., a clinical associate professor in the department of epidemiology and director of the epidemiology Ph.D. program. “She is an incredibly dedicated teaching assistant who has worked hard to ensure that her course materials are up-to-date, accessible and engaging. She takes the time to connect with her many students and to get them excited about the field of public health.”
Austin-Datta is in her fifth semester as a UF instructor. She currently teaches online asynchronous courses designed to introduce students to public health. These include the undergraduate course Public Health Concepts and a course for graduate students, Introduction to Public Health.
“I teach because I want to motivate students to go and make a difference,” Austin-Datta said. “I want to give them hope, to confirm they are worthy of great things, to help them see ‘they can do this — excellently.’ It doesn’t matter what the ‘this’ is: if a teacher is well-prepared and well-supported by their administration, they should be able to present a meaningful challenge to students, offer guidance and practice, adjust instruction methods as needed for the current student population (per student feedback), then fade into the background as the student becomes the star.”
This is the second teaching award for Austin-Datta, who received the Teacher of the Year Award in 2013 from Darnell-Cookman Middle/High School in Jacksonville, where she taught high school honors chemistry, and middle school science and research.