Skip to Content

South Carolina Honors College

SCHC Professor of the Year Award

Below are the names and nominations submitted for the 2022 SCHC Professor of the Year. Please select one person below for this recognition.  The Professor of the Year recognizes an individual who has taught a class in the South Carolina Honors College, facilitated conversation amongst Honors students in the class and has influenced the lives and careers of  Honors students. 

Dr. Kara Brown 

Dr. Brown was my thesis director for SCHC 499 and she also taught me in a number of education courses throughout my college career. She was extremely flexible and generous with her time, even allowing me to meet with her during her summer holidays when my project extended beyond a year. She brought invaluable background knowledge and perspectives to my project. Dr. Brown gave me specific feedback and ultimately pushed me and supported me in achieving my vision of an international study, even amid a global pandemic. She embodies dedication and lifelong learning, and has inspired me to keep research at the heart of my career as an educator so that I too can continue to improve my craft and gain a greater, more holistic understanding of my passion. I truly could not have accomplished one of the most defining moments of my Honors College career without her support and input. I look forward to learning about the research she continues to conduct internationally, and I will always keep in mind the lessons she has taught me.

Joel Collins, J.D.

I have never met a professor so dedicated to his students and the good of his class. I feel that he has prepared me to be a better lawyer and a better person post-graduation. It has been an honor to learn from him. 

Dr. Andrew Berns 

Dr. Berns is a phenomenal professor who really dived deep into the content of the class. Actively interacted with students in a way that facilitated deeper conversations and thought about the subject matter. The topics brought up in class seriously influenced my worldview and made me think a lot deeper about so many things. I can genuinely say that the class changed the way I viewed the world and history in general. He taught a subject that I disliked my entire life, in a way that had me engaged and interested. Overall, an amazing professor, excellent teaching style, and great guy who cares about his students. 

Dr. Woody Holton 

As a high schooler, I read Holton's book, Abigail Adams, and wanted to study women's history. However, I didn't know where to start. I emailed Holton, and he generously provided guidance. He also suggested investigating the SCHC. Without his encouragement, I wouldn't be here. He later recommended I pursue a BARSC degree. He helped me apply for grants and write peer-reviewed journal submissions. He's directing my Honors thesis, and thanks to his encouragement, I will continue my research as a UofSC MA student. My story's just one example of how Holton shapes Honors students' lives. He challenges students to fulfill ambitious academic goals and explains how to accomplish them. To make original research less daunting, he tells students to "contrast apparent twins." Take two similar sources; find unapparent differences; then ask what factors account for them. Several Honors students have turned their "contrasting twins" into senior theses. One even became a history major after the assignment. Holton also supports students beyond the classroom. He advises Exploration Grants; creates writing guides that challenge students to develop strong voices; and supports students' right to have difficult conversations by opposing book bans. He is an indefatigable advocate for the SCHC and his students.  

Dr. Courtney Lewis 

Dr. Lewis is one of the most influential professors I've had the pleasure of learning from in my four years at UofSC. She is a phenomenal teacher who genuinely cares about each one of her students. Her teaching style is engaging and accommodating for all types of learners. Dr. Lewis used her impressive background to share her passions with us, and her obvious enthusiasm for the subjects was infectious. My class from Spring 2021 still communicates on topics we see in the media regarding Native Americans and comics. 

Dr. Kathryn Luchok 

I had never felt more empowered as a student and a woman as I have in the class that Dr. Luchok facilitated in her Honors section of Global Women’s Health. In this class, Dr. L entrusted her students to lead discussions every day and contribute each of our unique inputs from our wide disciplinary make up. Despite her faith in each of us to be leaders in the classroom, Dr. L did not fail to contribute her mastery on the subject to correct or expand upon our conversations. She changes the lives of every student she teaches and mentors. Dr. L has gone through tons of personal hardships this past semester with the unexpected passing of her husband, however she continues to show up every day to class and persist for her students. She provides unwavering support, advice, and fosters important discussions about the world. Her fundamental and original love for empowerment through teaching that she so clearly exhibits, is what qualifies her for this award.  

Dr. Josef Olmert 

Professor Olmert has offered our class a lifetime of wisdom and personal experiences studying and living in the Middle East. He consistently offers thought provoking insight during our class discussions, which have furthered my understanding of global politics far beyond anything achieved through prior schooling or independent research. Furthermore, his flexibility in his midterm policy (allowing students to choose a topic of choice regarding middle eastern politics) resulted in what I would consider to be the most engaging and invaluable paper of my entire academic career. Additionally, his personal experiences as an advisor to the Israeli government and public scholar of the region cited by major news organizations, make his contributions to the Honors College and Department of Political Science truly irreplaceable. I feel that his section of this course is easily among the most valuable electives offered by the Honors College and serves as exactly what an Honors elective should be: a thought-provoking class in an otherwise foreign subject by a distinguished professor teaching purely out of love for education. Professor Olmert's depth of knowledge and skill at teaching has made me second guess my major with only one course, and I only wish I had more time here to take more courses offered by him. 

Dr. Jason Stewart 

Dr. Stewart deserves the SCHC Professor of the Year Award because the quality of his contribution to and his impact on the generations of students at UofSC who have been under his guidance is a fortuitous rarity. Dr. Stewart embodies the ultimate goal of any educator: to inspire and improve the welfare of his students. As I was welcomed into the lab and taken under Dr. Stewart's mentorship, he told me one of the most important lessons I would come to learn: "Failure is what science is all about." It was through countless broken coverslips and botched experiments that Dr. Stewart taught me that growth as a researcher, but more importantly as an individual, is learning how to not fear, but to cordially welcome failure and what we can learn from it. Dr. Stewart has encouraged us to hold up the integrity of science and of ourselves through honesty; to welcome our failures as a source of growth; to challenge ourselves beyond the realms of our perceived academic capabilities. It is a rarity to find an educator as genuinely invested in the welfare and academic success of his students as Dr. Stewart is. I can assuredly say that upon my graduation in May, I leave UofSC confident in myself and my capabilities not only as a student, but as an individual as well. One educator can be so lucky as to ever mentor someone into achieving that feat.  

Dr. Paula Vasquez 

In addition to being an excellent professor, advisor, primary research investigator, going above and beyond in helping me earn acceptance in graduate school at MIT, Paula Vasquez truly embodies the spirit of the honors college in the classroom where she challenges student to grow beyond their specific limits and challenges the norms of the daily conversations in all facets of life. Her instruction in this mathematical modeling class taught several students from various backgrounds the essence of differential equations, the importance of coding in that pursuit, and the rationale necessary to interpret and appropriately weigh "objective" studies and models. This dedication to the growth of her students was shown clearly in her approach, her conversations with us, and her invitations to us for us as students to challenge her teachings and to start a meaningful dialogue.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.