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Yancey and Walter Receive 2020 Outstanding Educator Awards

Published on 29 May 2020

Each year, St. Louis College of Pharmacy’s Student Government Association selects two faculty members to receive Outstanding Educator Awards for their proven commitment to students, the College’s mission and educational excellence. This year, Abigail Yancey, Pharm.D. ‘03, FCCP, BCPS, professor of pharmacy practice, received the Joe E. Haberle Outstanding Educator Award for the School of Pharmacy and Brenda Walter, Ph.D., professor of history, received the Outstanding Educator Award for the School of Arts and Sciences.

Yancey joined the College as a faculty member in the School of Pharmacy in 2005.

“I actually studied under Dr. Haberle, so receiving an award in his name is amazing,” Yancey explained. “If you talk to anyone my age who attended the College, they remember him and recall how he put the students first and was respected by each of them. To be considered in the same category as him is an honor.”

Yancey says Haberle and other memorable professors helped shape her teaching philosophy. Today, she combines the techniques she learned from her former professors with her clinical practice experience at SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital - St. Louis to find creative ways to educate her own students and demonstrate the real-world aspects of their studies.

“With my students I work to find new ways to help them understand information,” Yancey said. “I always tell my students to map out one disease at a time, starting with the most basic information and then adding more and more details,” Yancey said. “The goal is to understand the disease well enough that they could clearly explain it to someone without a medical background. Once they know the disease well enough to explain it in layman’s terms, they can picture how it works in the body and understand it on a fundamental level.”

Outside of the classroom, Yancey also mentors students through clinical rotations.

“I try to create a supportive environment for my rotation students while also challenging them to meet the rigorous requirements of a doctoral education,” Yancey explained. “I want my students to know I have their best interests at heart and want them to succeed, and I maintain an open door policy so that they always feel comfortable asking for help.”

Walter is a two-time Outstanding Educator Award winner, having first received the award in 2014. She says the award is special because it emphasizes her commitment to students.

“I connect with my students through the power of humor,” Walter explained. “Having a good sense of humor and being able to laugh on a daily basis is the foundation not only for academic and scholarly success, but also for a good life. I also connect with them through storytelling, by being vulnerable and sharing my own experiences with them and by being genuinely interested in them and their lives. I want to know who they are. I want to hear their stories. That’s probably why I’m a historian. The only thing that matters is the story, the voice, the experience of being human. We’re on this earth for a short blip, and we need to live our truths.”

Walter’s teaching experiences began in her undergraduate years at the University of New Hampshire, where she served as a writing tutor and learned the value of mentoring students. She also taught classes during her graduate studies at Boston University. When she came to the College in 2008, she says she found a small, close-knit community that allowed her to thrive.

“I love doing creative, collaborative projects with my students in and out of the classroom,” Walter explained. “I’ve taught cooking classes at the College and recently hosted a cupcake decorating workshop that benefitted local charities. Collaborative problem solving is a powerful form of education, and I try to bring this into my classes and my relationships with my students.”

Walter notes that the Outstanding Educator Award is meaningful because it comes directly from the students themselves.

“Winning this award is a deep expression of love,” Walter said. “And as that, it means everything.”

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