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CCEE students receive recognition as outstanding teaching assistants

CCEE Ph.D. students Pegah Ghasemi and Samrin Ahmed Kusum were among 15 winners of 2021-22 Outstanding Teaching Assistant Awards from the NC State Graduate Student Association’s Teaching Effectiveness Committee. The awards are the primary university-level recognition for exceptional contributions made by graduate teaching assistants (TAs) to the educational excellence of the university. 

Pegah Ghasemi

Ghasemi was a TA for CE 444 (An Introduction to Foundation Engineering) and the lab section for CE 548 (Engineering Properties Of Soils I) during the 2021 fall semester. 

“She did phenomenally well in both classes, and dedicated a large amount of work to make the lab class successful,” said CCEE associate professor Dr. Brina Montoya. “I’m very proud of her.”

Ghasemi was also recently accepted into NC State’s highly competitive Preparing for the Professoriate (PTP) program, which is designed to give doctoral students and postdoctoral scholars an immersive mentoring, teaching, and future faculty preparation experience. 

“Learning and sharing my knowledge has always been my passion,” Ghasemi said. “It gives me great satisfaction and fulfillment to share my experience to facilitate others’ development and growth. Having a career where I could teach and mentor others and conduct research to enhance sustainability and resiliency of infrastructure has inspired me to pursue a career as a faculty member.”

Samrin Ahmed Kusum

Kusum was a TA for CE 282 (Hydraulics) during the fall 2021 semester and was appointed as an instructor on record for the same course in the spring 2022 semester. 

“It is rare for our department to turn over a course to a graduate-student instructor, and it speaks highly of our trust in Samrin’s preparation and abilities,” said CCEE associate professor Dr. Casey Dietrich. “We are very proud of her.”

Kusum was awarded the Mentored Teaching Fellowship (MTF) in the fall by the College of Engineering, and she was a fellow in the PTP program during both fall and spring. 

“My favorite part of being an instructor and a TA is the interaction with the students while I guide them to solve a problem,” Kusum said. “It gives me a sense of accomplishment when I can help a student understand a concept or clear any confusion.”

Kusum, who said she plans to pursue a career in teaching, has also completed 100 hours of various workshops and training courses to receive the Teaching and Communication Certificate offered by NC State’s Graduate School.

“Teaching to me is very fulfilling because one gets to share the expertise with students and ultimately see them becoming a professional in their respective fields,” Kusum said. “I am working toward this goal of becoming an effective educator who goes above and beyond to design course materials to deliver knowledge that shapes students’ learning attitudes.”