Finding Fulfillment in the Classroom

Alumna Tanesha Osborne Named Teacher of the Year

SENIOR LECTURER TANESHA OSBORNE, PH.D., wanted to be an engineer. That was before she fell in love with chemistry as a magnet high school student in Augusta, Georgia. Her academic program required five years’ worth of math and science in four years of high school.

“My advanced chemistry class was the first time I had a chance to do chemistry lab, and I really liked the hands-on aspect,” said Osborne. “The one lab that always sticks out involved making aspirin, where you basically start with nothing and end up with something that is quite useful. That is the point where I started to develop a love for chemistry.”

Osborne’s passion for chemistry is obvious to the students in her Georgia Southern University classroom. She is the latest recipient of the Wells/Warren Professor of the Year Award, which is selected each spring by the University’s students. The professor knew she was one of four finalists for the award, but said she was shocked when they called her name during Honors Day Convocation on the Statesboro Campus.

“I do not go into the classroom looking for accolades,” she said. “It is always good to get them, but that is not my intention. Hearing my name announced as Professor of the Year actually made me tear up because it helped me realize that what I am doing is not in vain, and that my efforts are appreciated.”

The award-winning professor is a Georgia Southern alumna who earned a bachelor’s in chemistry in 2003. She completed her doctoral studies at the University of South Carolina. While working as a teaching assistant in graduate school, Osborne recognized her gift for teaching. She returned to her alma mater ten years ago, and teaches Survey of Chemistry to undergraduates.

Tanesha Osborne teaching two students

“I do not always go into lectures using big scientific terms,” she explained. “I try to utilize ‘non-scientific’ examples that students may be familiar with, and show them how it correlates to a specific chemical concept. For instance, I may ask the students how many grilled cheese sandwiches could I make if I have five slices of bread and eight slices of cheese? This is something that they are familiar with and can be used for a number of chemical concepts. I then show them how to relate it to the concept being discussed.”

Osborne balances her career with raising her young daughter. She is grateful to have found success in teaching and service at Georgia Southern where her college education began. She said the most rewarding thing about her profession is watching her students excel.

“You always have the highs and the lows but I will say that my highs definitely outweigh the lows,” she noted. “I have former students who just graduated from medical school and some have graduated with their nursing degrees and they are working. I see how I played a role in their future and that means a lot.”

— Sandra Bennett