Alum stands out as a STEM educatorBryan Ramirez | 2013 Alumnus | Biology Department Instilling a passion for science
The Indiana Department of Education recently identified a great need for producing more Science, Technology, Education, and Mathematics (STEM) K-12 educators in Indiana. By engaging college students in rigorous and creative STEM education programs, IUPUI is preparing the next generation of science educators.
Bryan Ramirez, one of IUPUI’s recent STEM education graduates, is now in his third year of teaching 6th grade science at Westlane Middle School. Bryan feels as though his teaching career has been a rewarding way to put his biology degree to good use.
“I love teaching middle school because the kids are at the age where they’re still incredibly open-minded,” Ramirez said. “Especially 6th graders – everything is so new to them. It’s a great time to instill a passion for science and learning.”
A standout student
As the director of the Woodrow Wilson Indiana Teaching Fellowship Program and an associate professor of biology, Kathleen Marrs interacts with hundreds of students each year. So when she says that Ramirez stood out to her as a young freshman it really means something.
Marrs noticed that Ramirez was not only a strong student in her biology course – he also had a knack for explaining information to his peers. She recommended he apply to become a Biology K101 recitation leader through the Bepko Learning Center. Ramirez got the job and flourished as a recitation leader, helping students gain a deeper understanding by supplementing lecture materials with hands-on activities and discussions.
“Bryan is fantastic. He really connects with his students, and has a great time finding creative ways of helping them understand biology,” Marrs said. “Becoming a biology recitation leader really helped him realize in a short period of time how rewarding teaching was to him.”
A well-connected education
Ramirez served as a Biology K101 recitation leader for six semesters, and two summer sessions. The financial support of being a Bepko recitation leader and a Robert Noyce Teach Science scholar helped Ramirez complete his bachelor’s degree and teaching certificate in a short three years.
Teaching may run in the family – many of Bryan’s family members still teach in his hometown, Venezuela – but Ramirez is thankful for the connections Marrs and IUPUI helped him make as an undergrad.