uscTIMES Stories, snippets & scenes from the University of South Carolina. Aik en / Beau fort / Co l u m b i a / L a n ca s t e r / S a l e tc h i a h e k / S um Unio ter / on n / Upstat e the insid e 5 /9/2 0 1 3 Benitez-Nelson recognized as Professor of the Year KEEPING STUDENTS AFLOAT F BY CHRIS HORN or marine science fresh- get them engaged in some way, and once men who sometimes feel I get a response, I’ve got’ em.” they are lost at sea, adrift Benitez-Nelson knows all about feeling without a clear sense of adrift and unconnected as a student. She direction, Marine Science was that person 25 years ago as an under- 101 must seem like graduate at the University of Washington. a lifeboat. The introductory “But I had these two professors who went out of their way to help me find my course is taught by Claudia way,” she said. “They didn’t have to, but Benitez-Nelson, a profes- they did, and I wouldn’t be a professor sor and director of the marine science program now if it weren’t for them. So I’m paying who has made it her mission to connect with it forward.” every first-year student in the program. Does she learn everyone’s name? Check. Incorporate some tidbit of information about “She’s super approachable, keeps the class interesting and really wants to help!” USC’s faculty in 2002. “I’ve been asked to give talks all over the world because I’ve become good at explaining Benitez-Nelson passion for engaging with students extends beyond her own discipline. “Once you’re my student, you’re always my science to non-scientific people,” she said. “That’s a direct result of what I do in the classroom.” Explaining difficult material and answering each student into her lectures? Count on it. Bring student. Whether you stay in marine science or endless questions can be a challenge, Benitez- full-on enthusiasm to the classroom? Every day. you switch to business or photography or what- Nelson said. “My goal is to get them to respond,” said ever, we’re still good; I’m here for you,” she said. Benitez-Nelson, winner of the 2013 Mungo Distinguished Professor of the Year award. “I want to Student questions are, in fact, the fuel that has powered Benitez-Nelson’s career since joining “But I get so much out of it, from new ideas in research to friendship. And at the end of the day I like to talk to people — it’s that simple,” she said. “We can look at the fervor of the deposits coming in for the Gamecock Gateway and see that people in South Carolina recognize the benefits of USC and will find their pathway to a Carolina degree.” — Drew Newton, coordinator of Gamecock Gateway, a partnership between USC and Midlands Technical College Gateway students live in the Roost residence hall and take classes at the Airport campus of Midlands Tech. After successfully completing 30 credit hours, students are eligible to transfer to Carolina. All of the 170 slots for fall 2013 are already filled. This year’s students recently wrote letters welcoming the rising freshmen to the program.