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VT Professor Teaches World Affairs Through Comic Book Alter Ego

John Boyer, M.S.
John Boyer, M.S.

Senior Instructor | Virginia Tech

A popular Virginia Tech professor gets students curious about contemporary geopolitics by turning his office into a production studio — and himself into a comic book superhero.

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The 'Internet Girl' Of Colombia Connects Past and Present In The Classroom

Maria Trujillo, Ph.D.
Maria Trujillo, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Systems Engineering and Technology Management | Georgetown University

More than 30 years ago, she brought the Internet to Colombia. Today, this Georgetown professor challenges students to explore tech solutions for development problems in the Global South.

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First-Generation Student Juggles Family, Finances and College

Lisa Diana Misraje
Lisa Diana Misraje

Undergraduate Student | University of Southern California

A single mother and full-time student goes the distance (literally) to attend classes at USC, with hopes to earn a degree, find a job, and set her family up for success.

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Student-Athlete Finds Purpose Beyond The Field

Kaleb Leach
Kaleb Leach

Graduate Student at University of Toronto | University of Toronto

An American graduate student gives his collegiate football dreams a run at the University of Toronto, where he scores a new study crew and outlook on his professional future.

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Professor and Students Develop App To Make Organic Chemistry Less Scary

Neil Garg, Ph.D.
Neil Garg, Ph.D.

Professor of Organic Chemistry | University of California, Los Angeles

An accomplished UCLA professor and scientist teams up with former students to develop an app that teaches organic chemistry to online learners around the world.

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Professor Uses Pop Culture To Attract Student Interest

Stanley Stepanic, Ph.D.
Stanley Stepanic, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Slavic Studies | University of Virginia

A University of Virginia professor enrolls hundreds of students in his course by teaching folklore and history through the lens of Dracula and popular vampire myths.

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The Master Educators

Master Educators inspire students and break down barriers to learning. We are celebrating their creativity, collaboration, and innovation, which have distinguished them as leaders in education.

John Boyer
John Boyer Senior Instructor Instructor

John Boyer is a senior instructor and researcher in the Department of Geography at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He has served in this position for over a decade, during which time he has conducted multiple research projects on the viticulture industries of Virginia and North Carolina. Boyer is a long time VT resident, receiving an B.A. in Geography in 1996 and an M.S. in Geography in 1998, both from Virginia Tech. His original thesis work (Thesis title: Geographic Analysis of Viticulture Potential in Virginia, 1998) produced a series of map packages which highlighted viticulture potential across a wide area of the Commonwealth. This mapping project has been widely utilized within the state, and emulated by other states, to encourage and facilitate ‘smart growth’ of the viticulture industries. In addition, Boyer teaches large sections of the very popular World Regional Geography and Geography of Wine courses. In last decade, enrollments have grown from average class size of 50-60 to 550-600, with World Regions now being taught to a record-breaking 3000 students every fall. He has received numerous awards for teaching including the 2002 University Sporn Award for Excellence in Teaching Introductory Subjects at Virginia Tech; 2002 Inducted into the Virginia Tech Academy of Teaching Excellence (ATE); 2002 National Council for Geography Education Distinguished Teach Achievement Award; and Student Alumni Associates (SAA) Student’s Choice Award for Faculty Member of the Year from 2004 to 2016. He stays on the cutting edge of educational experimentation, having published unconventional, compelling textbooks on global studies and wine; developed an educational graphic novel series; produced podcasts and an educational website for his classes; used social networking campaigns to bring celebrities and world leaders into the classroom; and actively incorporating all manner of technologies into the classroom in order to increase interaction and learning for the students, and the world. In addition, Boyer now regularly speaks at educational and technology conferences on his incorporation of new technologies and social networking tools into the 21st century classroom.

Maria Trujillo
Maria Trujillo Associate Professor of Systems Engineering and Technology Management Professor

Dr. Maria Trujillo is the Faculty Director and Associate Professor of the Practice in the Systems Engineering and Technology Management Programs. Maria's intellectual interests have lied at the intersection of technology, management and development. Prior to joining SCS, she most recently served as Deputy Director of Capacity Development for a USAID supported global project (GMS) aimed at providing technical support to the countries receiving grants from the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. In this capacity she led project design and implementation activities in capacity building for 12 regional partners around the globe, as well as training of 400+ consultants. She has additional 25+ years experience as a international development consultant, business owner, and lecturer. She has always been part of the innovation and growth of the entities she has been affiliated with. She was also known as the "Internet Girl" when she connected Colombia to the internet in 1990. Maria holds a Ph.D. in International Development and Technology Transfer from the Payson Center in Tulane University, a Masters in Artificial Intelligence from the University of Edinburgh and a B.Sc. in Industrial Engineering from Universidad del Valle, Colombia.

Neil Garg
Neil Garg Professor of Organic Chemistry Professor

Professor Garg received a B.S. in Chemistry from New York University where he did undergraduate research with Professor Marc Walters. During his undergraduate years, he spent several months in Strasbourg, France while conducting research with Professor Mir Wais Hosseini at Université Louis Pasteur as an NSF REU Fellow. Garg obtained his Ph.D. in 2005 from the California Institute of Technology under the direction of Professor Brian Stoltz. He then joined Professor Larry Overman’s research laboratory at the University of California, Irvine as an NIH Postdoctoral Scholar. Garg joined the faculty at UCLA in 2007. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 2012, and then to Full Professor in 2013. He has served as Vice Chair for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry (2012-2016) and currently serves as Faculty-in-Residence in the UCLA undergraduate community.

Stanley Stepanic
Stanley Stepanic Associate Professor of Slavic Studies Professor

Professor Stepanic was born and raised in Latrobe, PA, a small city south of Pittsburgh. He grew up with an interest in things of the macabre including ghosts and vampires, which developed further throughout high school. As an undergraduate, he focused on Art History with a double-major in Philosophy. This eventually led him to develop an interest in Russian animation and then the Russian language. After living in the country twice, he spent time working as a crisis counselor in Johnstown, PA, then a cemetery, and eventually entered graduate school at the University of Virgina in Charlottesville. His focus was primarily on the Russian language, but he began working as a TA for two professors who had a focus on Eastern European folklore, including one, Jan Perkowski, who was a specialist in vampire folklore. After working as a research assistant for Dr. Perkowski, and following the professor's retirement, he was offered the opportunity to continue Perkowski's well-known "Dracula" course, which he rebuilt from the ground up, creating a course that quickly became one of the most popular at UVA, currently considered by many to be in the top five most desirable classes. He currently lives in Charlottesville with his wife, Amy, and their daughter Alina.

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The Hero Students

Students motivate us every day. These members of our community know no bounds — they have leveraged their education to make even their most aspirational goals a reality.

Lisa Diana Misraje
Lisa Diana Misraje Undergraduate Student Student

Raising six kids on her own while earning a degree, Lisa teaches us the value of grit.

Kaleb Leach
Kaleb Leach Graduate Student at University of Toronto Student

In Florida, Kaleb defined himself by his football career. In Toronto, his community shows him he’s much more.

Valerie Escobar
Valerie Escobar Undergraduate Student at San Francisco State University Student

Valerie turns distress into ambition after enduring a traumatic experience.

Rita Guo
Rita Guo Undergraduate Student at University of California, Berkeley Student

Rita fights for education while reflecting on her own journey as a first-generation student.

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