Why I Teach: Angela Frey

As chair of Alverno’s STEM department, Angela Frey oversees a dynamic suite of programs designed to give undergraduate students extensive hands-on experience in math and science. The goal? To prepare them for success in graduate school and the workforce as well as to use their STEM expertise to serve their communities.

Frey, a cell biologist and Alverno biology professor, has always wanted to be a teacher. She’s passionate about empowering women to succeed and to lead with confidence in a field where they remain under-represented. And she is thrilled to introduce students to the sense of exploration and wonder that goes hand in hand with the sciences.

“I love helping students discover things. I like when they get excited about something they haven’t ever seen before, and then they want to learn more,” she says. “That motivates me to keep digging deeper for things that they can discover.”

What is your favorite thing about teaching at Alverno?

The way that I get to interact with the students. I love teaching here because students have multiple opportunities to showcase what they know and how they know it. They’re so creative in how they do that. Students learn from each other in these different ways and have opportunities to be able to express what they know in different ways. It’s really powerful.

What do you want students to have gained when they leave your classroom?

Curiosity. That’s what we do as scientists — we ask questions and then go through a process to answer those questions. I want them to experience that sense of discovery and of striving for something more.

Science is everywhere. It’s really important for students to be good scientific citizens, for them to be literate in science. When I say literate in science, I don’t mean only knowing the facts of science, but understanding the scientific process, understanding what the data means and reading the data very carefully so you aren’t fooled by people who are trying to fool you. It’s teaching our students to be analytical about science and how it impacts their everyday life.

What have you learned from Alverno students?

The biggest thing that comes to mind is just how to overcome adversity. The persistence and grit that it takes to be successful. Our students are so motivated to get to where they want to go. They’re brave and they try new things, and it makes me want to tell all of my students: ‘Look, you can do this, too. You’re all in this together. Let’s move forward together.’ Their persistence helps them get where they want to go. It’s really amazing, and I’m so proud of them.

 

This article will appear in the fall/winter 2020 issue of Alverno Magazine.

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