It was while she was in graduate school, in a teaching assistant position, that Professor Emilly Obuya first got the idea that she should teach. “I was finding it so fulfilling,” she remembers. “So I let my passion for it drive me forward.”
From the beginning, she was determined to make strong connections with students, to have an impact. “I knew I had the ability to relate to students,” she says. “I knew I could make them feel comfortable in my classroom, and that I could help to get them to explore.”
Professor Obuya says she knows she teaches difficult subjects. She worries that even pre-med students will easily give up, and maybe let go of their dreams of becoming doctors. So, she works extra hard to be the best instructor she can be. “I’ve spent a lot of time learning how to communicate,” she says. “It’s all about communication.”
It’s also about making the learning come alive, and Professor Obuya has her own special ways of doing just that. For example, she’s made Sage students part of her research project designed to help people around the world get access to safe drinking water, including taking a group of students with her to Kenya. Her Intro to Research Methods students received a grant from the EPA to research, develop and design solutions to water sanitation and related public health concerns.
Does she feel she’s having the impact she hoped she’d have?
She does. Her students go on to become doctors, physician assistants and research scientists. She cites with particular satisfaction one of her students who has become an assistant professor at a prestigious university. In other words, she continues to have the sense that she is pushing it forward.