Eugenia Paulus - Acceptance Speech

Outstanding Community Colleges Professor of the Year
Eugenia Paulus
Professor of Chemistry
North Hennepin Community College

Distinguished Guests, Colleagues, Friends and Family:

It is an exceptional honor to have been selected for this prestigious award. I thank the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education for granting me this esteemed award. This is indeed a deeply touching and humbling experience-to be recognized for what I love to do: teach!

I think it is wonderful to be a teacher-to have the opportunity to empower students, to open their eyes to a whole new world and to make a difference in their lives. It's a fabulous opportunity but also a tremendous responsibility. I strive to be the teacher who teaches from the heart, not only from the book; the teacher who gives my students something to take home and think about besides homework; and the teacher who stimulates ordinary people to extra-ordinary effort.

I was born lucky! How could I have been so lucky to have had such awesome parents? They were both excellent teachers, and they were my first teachers. From them, I inherited my passion for student learning, student success, and teaching. From them, I learned that God gives talents but only with hard work can we achieve.

Throughout the years, I have had many teachers. Some taught me because it was their profession. Others taught me out of a sense of duty. A few of them inspired me. This award is a tribute to all those teachers who inspired me.

I am called a teacher but I feel like a learner. Every day, my children remind me that I still have a lot to learn. Every one of my students is better than me at something, and I must always strive to respect them and learn from them. When I started teaching, one of the first lessons that my students taught me was that the look of indifference that I saw on the face of a student was all a cover up. It hides anxieties, fears, frustrations, goals and dreams; dreams for a better life. And I, in some small way, have the ability to help those "indifferent" students to achieve their goals and realize their dreams.

I have many to thank. First of all, I thank God for having placed me at North Hennepin Community College and for having shown me that this is my calling. I have been privileged to work at this premier educational institution. I thank my parents for their love and sacrifice. Mom, thank you for making the trip to celebrate with me. I thank my husband for his support and Hannah and Caleb for bringing happiness and meaning to my life.

I am grateful to North Hennepin Community College President Ann Weenie and Vice President Jane Reined for their continued encouragement and support and for the ideals that they maintain at NHCC, which make me proud to be a member of the faculty. I acknowledge that whatever I have accomplished here has been as a member of a team and I thank my colleagues. I have learned so much from you, and I continue to learn. To Patty and Sharon, former colleagues, I am touched by your friendship-thank you for having been my mentors. I also appreciate the presence of Lynda Milne from the Chancellor's office at today's ceremonies.

Finally, I am indebted to my students, my collaborators. I have so enjoyed our journey together, and I celebrate your successes. You have demonstrated so much caring, and I am moved. I am gratified that Tajo Milson was able to attend-I taught him only chemistry-the glorious words that he speaks are all his own as well as the superb nomination letter that he wrote that helped lead to this award. I am grateful to Carnegie Foundation and to CASE for the opportunity to participate in this celebration of teaching and learning.

Thank you.