Professor Stories: Kathryn Wetzel


"My teaching career began 26 years ago as a means to an end. Unexpectedly, it became a lifelong passion ... To my great surprise, teaching took me out of myself and my worries and propelled me into the world of mentoring and focusing on the needs of others."

-Kathryn Wetzel, 2011 national award winner

Kathryn started her career as a nuclear engineer, but left the field after the birth of her daughter. Finances became tight with only her husband working—she found herself considering food a "luxury item"—so in 1986, Kathryn became a part-time instructor at Amarillo College.

Kathryn became an essential part of the institution and the community. In 2005, she founded Amarillo College's award-winning Math Outreach Center, which provides about 23,000 tutoring sessions each year at no cost for students.

"The outreach center was her dream and it became an action," said Tonya Hester, an Amarillo College lab supervisor. "Nobody works harder than she does and we're all very proud of her. She deserves this more than anyone."

Kathryn Wetzel at the POY Awards. Credit: Daniel Peck
Kathryn Wetzel at the 2011
U.S. Professors of the Year awards.
Credit: Daniel Peck.

"You will never teach your students as much as they can teach you," said Kathryn. "I will never make as positive a difference in their lives as they have made in mine."This process has helped countless students—many of whom have said they're "no good at math"—see new possibilities. One of Kathryn's former students, Gina Garrett, spoke at the 2011 awards ceremony. She said, "As her assistant ... I have watched students come to her confused about difficult math concepts and leave confident in their understanding of the formerly impossible."

Know a great professor's story? Nominate him or her for a U.S. Professors of the Year award.


Kathryn Wetzel in the News

AC professor receives national award, NewsChannel 10, Nov. 17, 2011
AC professor wins national award, Amarillo Globe-News, Nov. 16, 2011
'Professor of the Year' teaches math, engineering, Community College Spotlight, Nov. 21, 2011
Two women named professors of the year, WIA Report, Nov. 17, 2011