NMSU Carlsbad psychology teacher earns Roush Award for first time - Carlsbad Current-Argus
Teaching became a happy accident for Felecia Cantwell before working as an instructor at NMSU Carlsbad. While pursuing her master's degree in criminal justice, she decided to take up teaching college bridge courses to high school students in her spare time.
"I just did it because it sounded interesting and different, and I ended up loving it," Cantwell said. "Teaching didn't start out as my career plan at all, but I've continued to enjoy it and am very passionate about it."
Now entering her fifth year of teaching sociology, college life and success, and human growth and behavior, Cantwell has also become the recipient of this year's Roush Award. The Award, a prize given to community college instructors for outstanding teaching, is determined by an anonymous survey voted on by students. Recipients address students atgraduation and attend the NISOD (National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development) Conference. While there, Cantwell will also receive an Excellence in Teaching Award.
John Gratton, President of NMSU Carlsbad, appreciates how Cantwell has reached out to her students and knows she will represent Carlsbad well among the 700 community colleges attending NISOD in Austin, Texas, next year.
"We are blessed with an exceptional faculty, and Felecia is a wonderful teacher and great inspiration to her students," Gratton said. "I look forward to working with her and all of our faculty as we continue our mission to provide quality educational opportunities in southeast New Mexico."
Being recognized for her impact on students means a lot to Cantwell who started on the college path late in life. Aftergrowing up in South Carolina, Cantwell moved to New Mexico to be closer to family. By that time, she already had two kids but still wanted to do something better for her family. That's when she decided to turn to college.
"I think I can relate to a lot of my students because many of them are parents coming back to work on a degree, and it can be overwhelming," she said. "There were times I held down a couple of jobs while going to school and being a mom."
Cantwell started at Clovis Community College, where she earned her Associates in Liberal Arts. From there, she went on tocomplete her bachelor's degree in psychology at ENMU and immediately enrolled in the master's program in public administration there. Cantwell recalls making a tough decision between pursuing law school or maintaining her passion forpsychology and getting a Ph.D. It was around then that teaching came into the picture.
"After my master's, I began teaching here in Carlsbad and starting work on my Ph.D. in psychology," she said. "I only have two more classes left, and then I start my dissertation phase, so it's been nonstop."
While Cantwell makes progress on her Ph.D., she looks forward to continue teaching at NMSU Carlsbad and being the lifelong learner she's always been.
"I'll probably always take a class to keep my brain active," she said. "But teaching is my true passion. It's just fulfilling to help students. I try to keep a professional yet open relationship with them so that they feel comfortable. Whether you're in my class or not, my door is always open. This is what I'll continue to do."
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