AUSTIN, Texas—A former lawmaker who finished a degree after 30 years in the Texas Senate and a woman who earned her degree while ducking bombs behind sandbags in Bahrain during Operation Desert Storm will be among six faculty members and six students The University of Texas at Austin will honor on Wednesday (Nov. 3).
The 12 will receive their awards from UT Austin President Larry R. Faulkner on the stage of Austin City Limits in a ceremony to take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The theme of the ceremony is “Taking Education To The Limits.”
The six faculty, who will receive $500 apiece, are being honored for their excellence and dedication in providing innovative options for non-traditional students to study in UT Austin courses through the University’s Continuing & Extended Education (C&EE) college credit programs.
The six students will receive awards of $300 apiece for their exemplary academic records and overcoming of significant obstacles in pursuit of their educational goals.
Faculty honorees are:
- Dr. Rosalie Ambrosino, a former UT Austin professor of social work and a charter member of UT’s prestigious President’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers, she left this fall to become a vice president at UT San Antonio. She consults all over the United States on working with children at risk and other topics. Ambrosino was one of the earliest champions of C&EE’s new evening program and has been one of its most devoted teachers for five years before leaving for UT San Antonio. During that time, she taught courses on Working With Children at Risk, Abused and Neglected Children, and Cultural Diversity.
- Dr. Eric Anslyn of the department of chemistry taught organic chemistry in the evening program for five years. He was a key ingredient in helping the program serve the select and motivated individuals who want to change careers and go to medical school or other health professions.
- Dr. Shane Davies of the geography department specializes in issues such as urban economic models, transportation, housing and labor mobility. Such topics taught in the evening program have enabled many Austin city planning professionals and others with urban interests to update their knowledge base and analytical skills.
- Robert Foshko is a senior lecturer, head of screenwriting at UT Austin and a core faculty member at the James Michener Texas Center for Writers. A former professional writer, script editor, director and producer for theatrical motion pictures and television, he has won multiple awards for both television and film work, including honors from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, multiple CINE Golden Eagle awards, The Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge and the International Festivals of New York and Chicago. By offering to teach evening classes for C&EE, Foshko has helped the
University function as a lively and responsive presence in the new Austin’s screenwriting community.
- Dr. Randy Diehl has instructed 1,354 students who have enrolled in psychology courses since 1983. Diehl’s Psychology 301 course is a model of effective distance education. Diehl began teaching when independent and distance learning was a correspondence program. As the program evolved into a distance education program, he adapted his teaching methods to incorporate well-written computer-graded lessons when that technology became available, and he was among the first instructors to move to e-mail lesson submission. He is revising his course to include more resources and enrichment with a web site.
- Dr. John E Gilbert, department of mathematics, won the President’s Associates Teaching Excellence award at UT in 1993. He also is a member of the Austin Area Mathematics Institute, a group of Austin-area high school teachers and UT Austin faculty. This Institute wrote and produced the TEXTEAM Geometry Institute. He has a long tenure with the Distance Education Center (DEC), where he has taught college algebra for more than 15 years. Gilbert was one of three instructors to pilot DEC’s on-line instructor gradebook last year.
Student honorees are:
- Chester (Chet) Brooks, who served for 30 years a member of the Texas legislature, specializing in education and social services. Upon his retirement from that body, he decided to complete his undergraduate degree, begun many years ago. Through the University Extension evening program, in 1998, the 63-year-old Brooks finished his B.A. in government with a business minor, earning an overall 3.6 in all courses taken, and was accepted into the LBJ School’s masters degree program. At the same time, Brooks was working full time at his consulting business.
- Mike Capt, age 34, already holds M.B.A. and M.S. degrees in industrial engineering, but he’s not satisfied yet. He is enrolled in a Ph.D. program at UT in biomedical engineering and wants to eventually be accepted to medical school into the national physician-scientist program. He also works full time in his own mechanical engineering firm to support his young family. Also maintaining a 3.6 gradepoint in his courses with University Extension, he has taken five basic pre-med science courses through the evening program to allow him to work during the day and still progress toward his goal.
- Jennifer Harper, age 28, holds a bachelor of arts degree in French from UT Austin. Harper was determined to be the first in her family to get a college degree. After five years as a full-time student, she had to leave the University in 1995 to join the Navy, but she says she was absolutely determined not to return home without being a college graduate.
“I had one year to finish three classes, and I refused to let anything stand in my way,” she said. Stationed overseas as an interpreter/translator in Spain, she was on duty 12 hours a day. Still, she found time to study Arabic and French, learn Spanish and do her distance coursework. Then, she was given two days’ notice to pack her bags for a six-month deployment to the Persian Gulf during Desert Storm.
“I threw two pairs of desert cammies, some shampoo and my course books in a sea bag and left,” she said. “I lived in a crowded, noisy apartment with four other girls in the middle of a Shiite Muslim village in Bahrain. The Shiites held riots almost every night demonstrating against the Sunni Muslim minority there. Our apartment building shook constantly durng the night from the explosion of homemade cylinder bombs. It was hard enough concentrating on my schoolwork when I had no time, but it became even worse when I feared for my life!
“I wrote a lot of my papers while hiding in sandbag shelters. I had no access to e-mail, so all my lessons had to be be mailed from remote places overseas and back again Ã In order to finish those three classes in one year, I had to study and write at the speed of lightening. But I never wanted anything so much in my life as I wanted to finish college that year. I never lost momentum or gave up or got discouraged.”
Harper earned A’s in all three of her courses and reached her goal of graduating. As a result of earning her B.A. in French, she got a promotion, as well as a recommendation by her commanding officer to attend Officer Candidate School. “Although I chose not to stay n the Navy, being recommended was the highest professional and personal honor of my life. I would not have received these honors if continuing education had not been available to me, Harper said.”
- Lydia Heard, age 39, had to leave college in 1987 for full-time employment to attend to her family responsibilities as a single parent. She had spent four years at UT working toward an architecture degree, but had almost given up hope of completing it. The evening program offered her a way to begin again more than a decade later.
Still working, but with her children now grown, she took two courses in geography and economics and got A’s in both. More than that though, she also used the student experience to explore new professional development avenues. In fact, her professor helped her make connections to many other city planning issues and urged her to apply to the graduate program in Community and Regional Planning and to go on the Oxford Study Abroad program through the School of Architecture.
- Jennifer Lepold, age 26, works full time as a legal assistant and has taken courses toward her bachelor of arts degree in English. Her long-term goal is to become a practicing attorney in the estate planning field. The availability of distance eduation courses has allowed her to continue her education while raising two small children. She made A’s in all her courses — astronomy, Spanish and Shakespeare.
- Doug Wise, a self-employed local attorney, is an example of a continuing education student who takes courses purely for self-enrichment. Earning a cumulative 3.8 grade point average, Wise has taken six math courses through distance education because his schedule would not permit classes in a more traditional setting.
For more information, contact Kay Morris, 477-1259 or Dr. Mary Robertson, assistant dean for academic affairs and director of University Extension, 471-2904.