Karan Oliver-Tucci, assistant professor of Biology at College of DuPage, has been named the Overall Outstanding Faculty Member for 2016-2017.
Representing the Health and Sciences Division, Oliver-Tucci will receive a $1,000 award from the College of DuPage Foundation, which annually recognizes outstanding teaching achievement.
The Bloomingdale resident's original goal was to become a zoologist or veterinarian. However, after working in a veterinary clinic and holding a seasonal zookeeper job while in college, she realized it wasn't the perfect fit.
"I even participated in an Earthwatch research expedition to study black howlers in Argentina just to make sure I wasn't missing out on a research career," she said. "I still love animals but instead found my calling in the classroom."
Oliver-Tucci taught high school biology for several years and was then asked to teach an honors-level Anatomy and Physiology course. Although she loved teaching the A&P course, she didn't feel adequately prepared. So she returned to school and earned a graduate degree in Human Anatomical Sciences.
It was during graduate school when Oliver-Tucci discovered just how much she enjoyed working with college students.
"I feel very comfortable and happy in the classroom. I love the classroom dynamic, interacting with students, getting to know them and helping them reach their goals," she said. "Plus it helps that I am fascinated by all the intricacies of the human body so the subject matter stays exciting. Anatomy and Physiology is a discipline that constantly keeps me on my toes in order to stay current with new procedures, drugs and technological advancements. Even after almost 11 years here at COD, Anatomy and Physiology courses are still my favorite to teach."
Oliver-Tucci enjoys working with students who are completing their science requirements before enrolling in the College's health care programs, such as Nursing. They often spend multiple semesters in her classes and labs.
"I have the opportunity to learn about them as I prepare them for program-specific health care classes," she said. "After leaving my classes, they often come back to me with questions or see me in the hall and update me on their progress."
Oliver-Tucci enjoys the smaller class sizes at College of DuPage. At a large university, a teaching assistant would be leading the lab sessions, but Oliver-Tucci prefers being there and working alongside her students.
"I hope some of my passion for science rubs off on my students," she said. "I also want them to leave the course knowing they are capable of reaching their goals."
For more about the Biology program, visit www.cod.edu/biology.
College of DuPage is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Serving approximately 28,000 students each term, College of DuPage is the largest public community college in the state of Illinois. The College grants nine associate degrees and offers more than 170 career and technical certificates in over 50 areas of study.