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With a passion for sharing her love of science, Jacquelyn Topp, a secondary education major from Mazomanie, is one of 13 recipients of the 2011 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence. The award recognizes University of Wisconsin Oshkosh seniors who have demonstrated high academic achievement and leadership qualities.

During her time at the University, Topp was a founding member of the UW Oshkosh student chapter of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and was instrumental in coordinating and running the group’s first-ever family science night at Webster Stanley Elementary School.

Topp also was a teaching assistant for the University’s Science Outreach program, where she taught Scientist-in-Residence programs and proctored Wisconsin Science Olympiad competitions. She tutored in areas biology, chemistry and geology for the Center of Academic Resources.

In addition to her University experience, Topp interned at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Earth Systems Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo., after being named an Ernest F. Hollings scholar in 2009. While there, she worked with noted scientists and education specialists to create outreach materials that promote climate literacy.

“My University and community service have had a huge impact on my development as a teacher,” Topp said. “I have been able to share my knowledge of and passion for science with students throughout the Fox Valley Area and beyond. I have also learned ways to differentiate instruction and problem solve that would have been difficult to learn in any other setting.”

Topp said she is more confident than ever that science education is where she belongs. “I know now what a successful science teacher looks like; and I feel confident that I can fill this role.”

She hopes to secure a full-time teaching position in Wisconsin. Eventually, she wants to pursue a master’s degree and certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

In her own words

Is there a professor who was particularly influential on you?

“I feel fortunate to have had some wonderful professors who have pushed me both academically and intellectually. I have always strived to succeed in all that I do. These professors supported this goal while making the endeavor appropriately challenging — pushing me to do my best and expand my skills.

“There were many influential professors for me: Michelle Fleming for her enthusiasm, helpfulness and amazing interview advice; Eric Brunsell for his knowledge about science education and teaching, his willingness to befriend and form relationships with students, and his overall positive demeanor; John Lemberger for his guidance, experience, and advice; and Joe Cook, Joshua Garrison and Courtney Bauder for being inspiring teachers who made me want to come to class every day.”

What advice would you give to current education majors?

“Pursue as many experiences that deal with education as they can — work experience, volunteer experience, leadership experience. The more time you are in a classroom or working with students in some other capacity, the better.”

Why do you want to be a teacher?

“I want to become a teacher because I love interacting with others and sharing my passion for science. I also wish to promote students’ development as engaged citizens with the capacity for higher-order reasoning and the ability to think critically. These objectives and my love for science and people are ultimately what attract me to the field of education and provide me with a driving sense of satisfaction and intrinsic motivation.”

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