In May of this year, we at CengageBrain excitedly introduced our first ever national scholarship competition, “America’s Top TA.” College students from all around the country nominated their favorite teaching assistant by telling us why their TA deserved to be named America’s Top TA. For the grand prize, CengageBrain, the premier destination for purchasing college textbooks, agreed to establish three $2,500 scholarships in the winning TA’s name, and the reigning Top TA got to be part of the integral team determining the scholarship criteria and ultimately selecting the scholarship recipients. For those of you on the hunt for scholarships, stay tuned! Scholarship entries will be accepted starting in December.
After all the nominations were collected from students, a group of CengageBrain Student Ambassadors then narrowed them down to our 10 finalists. Then, it was up to our fans to vote on the top 10!
This was no easy choice, as we had a phenomenal group of very hard working and compassionate teaching assistants. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were a total of 46,360 teaching assistants at colleges, universities, professional schools and junior colleges in the United States in 2011. Most of those TAs also work part-time while studying for their degree, and CengageBrain is thrilled to honor all they do!
“Good TAs set up discussion sessions or study groups outside of class to offer extra help,” says Joe Miller, Director of Student Advocacy at CengageBrain. “They often even conduct several classes entirely on their own during a semester, and this is on top of taking classes or conducting research themselves. We probably don’t give them enough credit. Nominating a teaching assistant for America’s Top TA is a phenomenal way to thank a hardworking TA who takes the time to look out for both their academic success and yours.”
When all the votes were in and tallied, our winner was clear! Congratulations again to Rutgers Organic Chemistry TA Dan Coiro for winning the first ever America’s Top TA Competition by CengageBrain! In addition to receiving the title of America’s Top TA, we have created the Dan Coiro Scholarship by CengageBrain in which three students will each be awarded $2,500. We at CengageBrain know that the best way to honor an educator is to give back to education.
Chelsea Viscosi, who took Dan’s Organic Chemistry class, submitted the winning nomination:
“Dan is an enthusiastic teaching assistant who goes above and beyond to help students. Despite a heavy schoolwork load, he cuts into his free time to come up with new teaching methods and hold extra review sessions. He allows students to email him at all hours; his answers are always thorough and instantaneous. In addition to providing help for Organic Chemistry, Dan would offer assistance in any other subject he could. In spite of illness, he continued to teach and provide extra assistance to those in need. For many students, passing Organic Chemistry would not have been possible without Dan.”
When nominated, Dan was a researcher in an organic chemistry laboratory at Rutgers University under the direction of Professor Daniel Seidel. As a result of his experiences, he has even considered becoming a teacher himself. “In the future, I would love to see high school students find joy in science,” said Coiro. “I want high school students to attain the understanding that I saw from Rutgers students.”
Dan has said that having the volume of students visiting him during office hours grow was what was most rewarding to him as a TA. “Whether their exam results were good or bad, they still persevered through the two semester course,” said Dan, and seeing students dedicate themselves uplifted him. “After I read what the students wrote on the comments for this competition, I learned a lot about myself and it has helped me to know that I was meant to teach. I feel great to know that I made a difference in students’ lives in a positive way.”
Thanks to all of Dan’s hard work and dedication to learning, students now have the Dan Coiro Scholarship by CengageBrain to look forward to! Coming soon in December, students will have the opportunity to apply to win one of three $2,500 scholarships. The three lucky scholarship winners will be selected by Dan himself. Stay tuned until December, when the scholarship criteria and application form will be made available. Congratulations again to America’s Top TA, Dan Coiro, and a big thank you to teaching assistants everywhere!