Nagina Parmar

Lecturer, Ryerson University

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Follow your dreams and passions.

What do you do?

I am a lecturer with background in Biology and Microbiology. I teach adult learners, counsel them to guide and help them in achieving their goals.

Why did you choose this field?

I believe that teaching is about making a difference in the world or making a difference in student’s lives or the surrounding community. Education is learning every day while preparing a lecture; searching for new information, learning from students and keeping an open mind for new ideas and concepts that come out during the class discussion.
My teaching experience began early in my life when our grade 6 teacher asked a few top students to monitor the classroom, and do one on one tutoring with students having learning problems in the class. It was a very heart touching moment when the student I was instructing wanted to learn but had such a hard time in the classroom to express due to some developmental limitations. From then on, the teacher in me started to grow. That little experience of mine changed my life forever. Even growing up, I used to tutor my neighbour’s kids and other small children. After tutoring them, I felt so satisfied that, although doing science became my goal, teaching became my passion.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

For over the past few years of my teaching at Ryerson University, I have met so many students, and their stories have touched my heart. Here I give one example where one of the students who had to leave her family back home and with less command in English has decided to finish her nursing at Ryerson. She was so determined, focused and brave that she, at last, finished her nursing in four years and now she is a nurse and brought her family here in Canada. When she came to my class she was so shy, very introvert and a loner. By participating in various activities, discussions and presentations helped her in the long run and this reflected in her grades and the feedback given at the end of the semester. She was grateful for all the help and support she received. Time spent with students goes a long way, especially to those who are weaker, introverted or the international students, who need extra help or special attention. Students should feel comfortable approaching their instructors about advice on advancing their career goals or asking for a letter of recommendation or even just for personal issues. I have been endeavouring to encourage this in my students who have some focused goals. The feedback I get from them if they get into their career program gives me immense pleasure and satisfaction. My younger me would never have thought that I could be helping the students especially the ones who need the guidance the most. As an introvert myself back then help me relate to these students and understand them better.

Why do you love working in STEM?

For me, love for teaching science or biology brings up an emotional connection between a teacher and students. If there is a dedication shown on the teacher’s part, then the students feel connected to the lecture and stay in the classroom with their full mind. I work hard to remain connected to students and feel for the issues that concern the students. I felt that by listening and being there for students is an excellent way to involve them in biology. By teaching non-majors biology students, made me realize that I needed to do more than teaching. I needed to build trust, interest, and engagement in the class. With that in mind, I wake up every day with a mission of my own to be the guide, mentor, colleague to my students. I was dealing with mature students where they have issues of their own besides the course they are taking in the classroom. I make them believe that this is my responsibility to ensure they learn and understand the material and also make them fully engaged in the classroom. I also ensure that they understood their responsibility to come to the class, complete the assignments participate in discussions and pass the course with flying colours.

Best advice for next generation?

"Keep working hard, follow your dreams and passions, never let anyone make you feel inferior, and lastly, when the tides of life turn against you and current upset your boat, don't waste your tears what might have been, just lie on your back and float.”

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

"The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up.” - Paul Valery

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