It takes some people several years, and several tries, to figure what they truly want to do as a career. Dr. Regina Foster, who teaches science in OSU Institute of Technology’s School of Arts & Sciences, has never had that problem.
“I never really wanted to do something else. Even in elementary school, I would see what my teachers were doing and say to myself ‘I would have taught it this way,’” said Foster, who was named a 2015 recipient of the Regents Distinguished Teaching Award by Oklahoma A&M Board of Regents.
Foster credits several people with instilling her with a love of science and inspiring her to become a teacher.
“When I was really little, my grandparents were gardeners and they had me out gardening. They got me interested in different areas of science,” she said. “I had a really good science teacher in fifth grade, and he inspired me. He wore a lab coat to class and did fun experiments and had us do fun experiments. And I had a good high school science teacher as well who really pushed me.”
Foster taught high school science for several years before coming to OSUIT 10 years ago, but she started out in the Office of Academic Affairs, not the classroom.
“I missed teaching so much that when I had the chance to go back to teaching I jumped at it,” she said. “I loved my job in Academic Affairs. It was great talking to people and traveling around the state. But I missed science; I missed teaching science.”
And now when she hears a student say they don’t like science, she sees it as a challenge.
“When they understand something that they didn’t understand before, and I think I may have had something to do with that. It’s an additive feeling,” she said, and science and applied learning fit together better than people might think. “A big part of science is hands on. I do think applying what you learn in the classroom to the real world is important. I try to bring in popular news stories or things that connect to their lives.”
Science makes a car run; science turns light bulbs on; science helps people get well; there’s even science in cooking.
“Science touches everything,” she said.
It’s that kind of passion for her work that led to Foster being recognized with the Regents Distinguished Teaching award.
Dr. Scott Newman, vice president of academic affairs at OSUIT, said the university is fortunate to be home to so many truly outstanding faculty—each of whom make their own unique contributions to the university and those it serves, including Foster.
“What distinguishes Regina is her ability to excel in so many facets of her role as a faculty member—to include creating and facilitating high-quality learning experiences for her science students, generating extramural resources through grant writing, her scholarly activities, and sponsorship of OSUIT’s student honor society in the past,” Newman said. “Despite a busier-than-busy schedule, Regina is willing to undertake additional initiatives she believes will advance the institution—such as chairing the Academic Collaboration Task Force. We are very grateful to Regina and her unwavering commitment to OSUIT and its students.”
Like Distinguished Teaching honorees before her, Foster is reluctant to talk about the praise and recognition.
“I’m humbled and thankful. It’s nice to think the place you work appreciates what you do,” she said. “There are lots of talented people who work here who certainly deserve this more than me.”