Melani Decker, a graduate teaching assistant in the undergraduate Dental Hygiene Program in the Department of Dental Ecology, was honored with one of the University’s Student Undergraduate Teaching and Staff Awards (SUTASA) in a recent ceremony on campus. These awards recognize outstanding educators and UNC staff members who go above and beyond for their students.
Decker, who is also in her final semester as a Master of Science in Dental Hygiene Education student, was nominated by the undergraduate dental hygiene students whom she teaches at the UNC School of Dentistry. She was one of six teaching assistants honored with a SUTASA on campus this year. All awardees were honored at the Chancellor’s Award Ceremony and presented both a cash award and a plaque by Chancellor Carol Folt.
“We are very proud of Melani and thrilled that she has been recognized for her exceptional work and dedication to the students she teaches,” said Professor Rebecca Wilder, director of the Graduate Dental Hygiene Program. “Melani has taught in the undergraduate and predoctoral dental clinics, labs and didactic courses. She has a bright future in dental hygiene education. To my knowledge, this is the first time that one of the School of Dentistry graduate students has won an award of this type.”
SUTASA are the only teaching and staff awards at UNC which are funded entirely by student fees. Nominations are narrowed by a committee of students and are named during the spring semester, with winners typically being recognized in April.