Soon after setting foot on a college campus for the first time, April Wynn knew what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
And today, as a College of Agriculture and Life Sciences doctoral candidate in genetics and one of the newest fellows of N.C. State University’s Preparing the Professoriate program, Wynn is a giant step closer to living her dream.
“I love the university setting,” Wynn says. “The focus on education is stimulating, the energy of the students is invigorating, and understanding new things through research is fascinating. I have always wanted to know what makes things tick, how things work, and why.”
Wynn earned her bachelor’s degree in natural science from McMurry University in Abilene, Texas, in 2004, and her master’s degree in student affairs administration in higher education from Texas A&M in 2006.
Now she studies plant genetics at N.C. State – specifically, flower development – and her teaching focuses on genetic ethics.
“Teaching is a natural extension of research for me,” she says. “If I discover something, I want to share it with others. I also have found that the more I teach the better I learn, so doing both is a win-win situation.”
Wynn was selected from a competitive, universitywide pool of candidates for the Preparing the Professoriate Program, which is designed to give doctoral students a hands-on teaching opportunity under a distinguished faculty mentor recognized for his or her teaching skills.
She is working with Dr. Julie Pederson, CALS assistant professor of genetics, to prepare and teach an undergraduate elective course in genetic ethics. Wynn also will complete a teaching portfolio under the guidance of several faculty members.
In the first semester of the program, Wynn learned about such things as institutional fit, navigating the job market, tenure and different types of instructional technologies she can use to enrich the learning environment in her classroom.
This spring, she is teaching the undergraduate genetic ethics course that she designed with Pederson and will receive feedback from faculty and her peers. The teaching portfolio that she is developing through the program will be a key component of her application package for a faculty position.
After she graduates in May 2013, Wynn will pursue a post-doctoral position in plant genetics and eventually a faculty position “where I can integrate teaching with research,” she says.
According to Wynn, the Preparing the Professoriate program is playing a huge role in helping her achieve her goals. “I love to ponder things and examine issues from all sides, so this program is just perfect for me,” Wynn says. “It is structured in such a way that you have been provided resources before you realized that you needed them. I am learning how to become a faculty member, asking questions about things I don’t understand and researching topics that I want to explore further.
“Preparing the Professoriate has been terrific.”
– Suzanne Stanard