For Ilma Jahic, a second-year Ph.D. student in sociology, teaching undergraduate and graduate students is more than an obligation — it’s her passion. Jahic’s commitment to students recently garnered her a Graduate College Teaching Excellence Award for fall 2019, which recognizes and encourages outstanding teaching achievement by graduate students.
While Jahic is honored to receive the award, the announcement came as a complete surprise.
“I wanted to scream to everyone that I had received it because I knew how much hard work I was putting in,” Jahic said. “I wasn’t expecting anything in return, but when you get something like that you think somebody really is watching and somebody really appreciates that hard work.”
Shawn Dorius, associate professor of sociology and Jahic’s supervising teaching instructor, nominated her for the award. A grant commitment kept Dorius from teaching his usual Social Science Research Methods class this fall. He approached Jahic about teaching the class, and she enthusiastically agreed. Jahic had prior teaching experience as a graduate assistant for two other sociology courses, but the research methods class was an ambitious undertaking.
“Ilma’s been a phenomenal instructor,” Dorius said. “She’s really enthusiastic about the material, and research methods is not an easy class to teach. She has a natural teaching aptitude. She takes a real interest in the students and focuses on learning outcomes.”
Dorius is impressed with how Jahic not only dove into teaching the class, but how she implemented a team-based learning (TBL) structure to enhance the students’ learning experiences through small groups and hands-on activities.
“That’s an effective learning strategy and she really immersed herself in it,” Dorius said.
In addition to teaching, Jahic is equally committed to conducting research related to domestic violence against women and determining how race, class and gender intersect within that topic. Currently, she is working with her major professor Matt DeLisi, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Professor, on a project involving psychopathy. DeLisi commends Jahic’s dedication to both research and teaching.
“Ilma is very skilled in research methodology and statistics, so teaching the research methods course is a perfect fit for her,” DeLisi said. “I envision lots of success in teaching and research in her future.”
Following her doctorate, Jahic intends to become a professor at a top research institution, where she can focus on both of her passions.
“I’m passionate about both teaching and research,” Jahic said. “In one case, you’re influencing students’ lives and seeing them grow and learn, but when you’re doing research there is always application and practice.”