Best Teaching Assistant Award 2021

June 30, 2021
Dear Teaching Assistants,
We would like to thank you all for your dedication and tremendous support you provided to the students and faculty during this peculiar year. These classes and thesis writing workshops could not happen without the outstanding help you kindly provided.
As you might know, we have a tradition of recognizing the best Teaching Assistant for the academic year. The students can nominate TAs and the faculty selects the winners. We announced the winners at our departmental graduation ceremony, and we would like to honor the best teaching assistants here too. The Best Teaching Assistant Award of this year went to Maryna Lakhno and Hector Bravo Santillan.
We are sharing excerpts of acknowledgements from the nominations:

Héctor Ricardo Bravo Santillán: Ricardo was the teaching assistant for  Introduction to Political Theory: Justice and Equality (4) the Fall, Introduction to Contemporary Political Philosophy (4) and Thesis Workshop in the Winter.  

Ricardo has been very involved in the teaching and also available outside of the classes for consultations on coursework, core and additional readings as well as thesis. Not only was he always well informed on the topics we discussed and did interesting class presentations, he also made sure to check on the wellbeing of the students during the move to online teaching and helped accommodate other pandemic-related challenges. I believe Ricardo is a valuable asset in this department and would make a great addition to the permanent teaching staff and faculty. 

Maryna Lakhno. Maryna was the teaching assistant for the Process-tracing (2) in the Fall, Field Research and Qualitative Data Analysis (2), and Thesis Workshop in the Winter.

1. “I think that she deserves to get nominated because she was a very helpful and encouraging TA. Maryna was an active part of the class, who had always very excellent points and was ready to help and engage in the discussion with us in the break-out rooms. Apart from being very knowledgeable, she is a very friendly person, so it felt natural to ask her about the materials covered in the lecture. Sometimes, the students feel like they have a stupid question and they hesitate to ask the professor, so in this sense, it was great to get in touch with Maryna. Finally, she also had tutorials at the end of the lecture, where we could discuss our ideas for the final paper with her, which was also very helpful.  

2. “She would begin every class/session with an informal discussion with the students, make them feel comfortable and ask them if they were having any challenges at all with the course. She was always very well prepared to assist the instructor with the contents during the sessions and would be suggesting helpful materials. During in-class zoom activities, she would give very clear instructions and help the students with any issues they might be facing. She would really be conducting the sessions, with its many components spread out across zoom and documents on OneDrive, along with the instructor. In the latter parts, we had to work with a software, MAXQDA, with which us students were not familiar. Maryna shared very useful instructions on how to use it, and in fact helped every student and groups with their projects on MAXQDA. She made everyone's lives much easier, by working with MAXQDA herself for all of us to a large extent. Finally, she was always available outside the classroom, in a WhatsApp group, and through email, to assist us with any and all problems we were facing, extremely adequately and promptly.  

I can hardly recommend her enough for this award, and do so with all sincerity and gratitude. 

3. “She has a great personality, what helped facilitate interactions during online classes and break the ice. She often successfully took a leading role in breakout rooms exercises. Apart from it, very often she would go an extra mile to make our, students’ lives easier, for instance, by creating Google documents, sending articles, etc. What more,  in crucial moments, when it was super helpful, she would be available practically 24/7 on WhatsApp chat group answering, sometimes very mundane questions, always encouraging us to ask again (!) all our questions related to a course or a coursework!!! Unbelievable!!! She has been always smiling, very polite and very helpful and professional. She is pure gold. If there is anyone deserving this award it is Maryna Lakhno!!

Congratulations to the winners!