“If I’m being honored [for my teaching]…why am I the one who must lecture?” joked Professor Regina Stevens-Truss after being presented as the Florence J. Lucasse Lectureship award recipient. Established in 1979 in honor of K’1910 alumna Florence J. Lucasse, the Lucasse Lectureship award stands as Kalamazoo’s highest teaching honor and is awarded to a K faculty member in recognition of their outstanding teaching.
President Wilson-Oyelaran and Provost McDonald—both of whom respectively provided the event’s opening remarks and recipient introduction—acknowledged Professor Steven-Truss’ excellence, paying particular attention to her success in the classroom and noting her engagement with students from elementary school age though undergraduate studies.
Professor Stevens-Truss elicited chuckles from the audience as she began her lecture, stating, “I’m not going to tell you how I teach, because that would boring.” Instead her talk entitled “How did I get here?” explored and reflected upon her heritage, support network, and passion for education.
“I shouldn’t be here,” declared a slide in her presentation, “I could have easily fallen through the cracks.”
Professor Stevens-Truss explained her birth to unmarried Panamanian parents who had little guidance and support for education. After immigrating to the United States in the 8th grade, Professor Stevens-Truss pursued her education, saying “education was something I did for me and that no one could take from me.”
“I’ve been given a lot and so I feel like I lot I do is giving back,” she disclosed to the audience during the second half of her lecture. Her desire to further others’ education can be seen across campus. Making Professor Stevens-Truss markedly unique is her combination of biochemistry with social justice, resulting in the founding of programs like Sisters in Science, a big sister-little sister style program that pairs K students with 5th and 6th grade girls interested in science from the Kalamazoo area.
“I felt like there was a need,” she continued, describing her founding of other projects, such as the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s HOPES grant program (Hands-on Opportunities to Promote Engagement in Science), or Sukuma, a “peer-led support group for domestic students of color and international students to help them better succeed at K.”
Audience attendance made it clear that Professor Stevens-Truss serves as an inspiration for students and faculty alike; rows were filled with chemistry students, and at the close of Professor Stevens-Truss’ presentation, a faculty member exclaimed, “I’ve just always admired your energy!”