West Coast University Professor Valencia Williams has always had an intense interest in science and teaching.
As a child, instead of having tea parties with her dolls, Williams would line them up as if they were students and proceed to educate them.
“Part of the joy I get from education is being able to share what I’ve learned so that person can go on and teach someone else,” Williams said.
Luckily for her students, she has maintained that passion and this summer Williams will travel to the Center for Disease Control to be a peer leader for the 2017 CDC Science Ambassador Fellowship.
As a peer leader, Williams will attend facilitation workshops at the CDC headquarters in Atlanta with subject matter experts and future-trainers to develop curriculum about public health and infectious diseases for public high schools across the United States.
“This is a continuation of the good work that Dr. Williams has provided for the CDC Science Ambassador program,” WCU-Ontario Academic Dean Bart Lerner said.
Previously, Williams had been selected as a CDC Science Ambassador in 2014 and again in 2015 as part of its initial Second-Year Alumni program. She was also selected into its other teacher training program, the CDC David J. Sencer Museum Teacher's Workshop, in 2016.
Additionally, Williams also introduced fellow WCU faculty to the Science Ambassador program which resulted in their eventual participation in it.
Williams said her WCU microbiology students enjoy the active learning techniques she uses at the CDC, where she lectures for about 30 minutes and then breaks the class into small groups to go over the didactic.
“I refer to them as co-op groups, where they are cooperating with each other to learn the information,” she said. “It helps solidify the information I’ve taught them and they remember it when it comes time to take the test — because I implement a lot of NCLEX-style questions on my test as it relates to microbiology — and so the case studies help them to understand how it applies to the clinical setting.”
Williams has been with West Coast University since 2009, and still loves it when graduates email her out of the blue or students stop her in the hallway to tell her how much her lessons still mean to them.
“The professors that most impacted me were those that really made an effort to get to know me and really cared about my success,” Williams said. “WCU promotes a student-centric philosophy and that really attracted me to work here, because I want to make a difference.”