Reach for the stars: Teacher of the Year encourages students to strive for success

Katheline Ocampo is a role model for students and faculty members at Arizona Western College. This year, the adjunct professor of psychology and Associate Dean of La Paz County services was recognized as one of the 2021 Teachers of the Year.

“I absolutely was not expecting to be nominated, and I sure was not expecting to be the recipient under the adjunct faculty category,” Professor Ocampo said. “I was completely taken aback, in a positive way.”

Ocampo considers herself a non-traditional student since she decided to pursue her dream career after getting married and becoming a mother of two. Her educational journey began at AWC, and later transitioned to Grand Canyon University, where she received her Master’s degree in Psychology.

“I’ve worked at AWC for almost 15 years, starting as a clerk and working my way into my current role,” she said.

As a faculty member at AWC, Ocampo tries her best to encourage and support her students with their education. Because of this, Ocampo decided to bring more general education courses to La Paz County.

“I’m so lucky to be a part of making a difference in individuals and growing professionally to ensure that I’m providing the best experience for students,” she said.

The students at AWC inspire Ocampo on a daily basis. She feels that she has grown personally and professionally ever since she started working at the community college. In addition, the Associate Dean tries her best for students to have the most rewarding learning experience.

“I want to ensure that I am providing students with the best collaborative learning environment,” she said, “and the only way I can do that is if I personally engage in continued growth, and development.”

The pandemic has made it harder for professors to communicate and engage with their students in a face-to-face learning environment. During these times of uncertainty, Ocampo showed outstanding leadership in the workplace, implementing new ways to maintain students engaged and focused on remote learning via Zoom.

“When we consider the Coronavirus and how it has impacted the classroom, I would say my biggest area of concern initially was being able to keep students focused and engaged at times,” she said. “For me, it is important to recognize the multiple roles a student plays and be able to support those roles when I can.”

As an instructor and administrator, Ocampo encourages students at AWC to work towards higher levels education. She wants them to stay focused and determined, and to know that it is okay for them ask for help.

“Reach for the stars and take time to celebrate your successes, whether its successfully completing a class you had in a semester or passing a math test you were worried about.”

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