2010 Mrs. A.B. 'Dolly' Cohen Award for Excellence in Teaching: Tracey Hawkins
Tracey Hawkins has always valued putting her accounting students first. Her dedication to that goal has helped make her one of UC Clermont's favorite faculty members.
Date: 5/4/2010 12:00:00 AM
By: Mae Hanna
Phone: (513) 732-5332
Photos By: Dottie Stover
Leaving the corporate world in 1992 for a teaching position may have seemed like an odd choice for an accountant, but for Tracey Hawkins, a 2010 winner of the A.B. “Dolly” Cohen Award for Excellence in Teaching, it was a calling she knew she was meant to fulfill.
Hawkins, a professor of accounting, recalls leaving the ‘real world’ to begin her second career as an educator. “The call to the classroom was too strong and so I left the corporate world for higher education,” said Hawkins.
Her goal is to engage her students as “inquisitive, active learners. I want them to love learning and embrace the idea of lifelong learning. I am kidding myself if I thought I could make all of my student love accounting. That is never going to happen, no matter how hard I try. However, I want my students to be able to understand ‘the language of business’ so that they can become more effective business people. I want their learning to be meaningful and relevant in their everyday lives.”
“How I teach has evolved over the past 18 years, but my philosophy of teaching has remained the same: the student comes first,” said Hawkins, who is sensitive to the non-traditional student environment that is a norm at UC Clermont College. “Many of our students are non-traditional age and/or first-generation college students, working full-time jobs and have families. This can make the learning environment especially challenging,” said Hawkins.
Hawkins’ passion for teaching has resonated with her students. Students in Hawkins’ class are able to engage, learn and understand in ways that they did not believe was possible on the first day of class. Her relaxed manner and confidence in her students’ abilities instills a sense of success that has become her hallmark.
“Tracey’s real life experience in accounting really made a difference. Tracey would explain the materials in such a way that everyone understood the concepts and always would take time to answer the questions. No matter how ‘stupid’ they were. So when I say I would not be where I am if it wasn’t for Tracey, I really mean it,” said John Harrell, assistant vice president, corporate accounting manager for Fifth Third Bank.
Her connection to her students doesn’t stop when the class is complete. One student wrote that she struggled in understanding an accounting concept that her NKU professor taught. Hawkins met with her former student, helping her after she left UC Clermont College. “She went above and beyond for me, as I know she did for every one of her students,” said Kari Spear. “My dad talked to Tracey at my graduation party to personally thank her for being a wonderful person and teacher.”
Her colleagues have taken note as well. “It is clear to me that the respect that she shows to students is being reciprocated, as they have nominated her while she is on sabbatical!” said Business Information Technology Professor Sue Trakas.
Hawkins uses her talents to volunteer in the local community. She established an IRS-sponsored Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) on campus in 1997. The VITA Program offers free tax help to low- to moderate-income people who cannot prepare their own tax returns and is dedicated to assisting the community in tax services. She assists students and community members and has quite the following each year. The long line outside Hawkins’ door during tax season is a familiar sight. Just this tax season alone, she assisted 230 people with their taxes.
In student evaluations over the last three years, Hawkins has rated an overall 4.9 average on a scale of 5. Her students praise her ability to explain complicated accounting and finance material in ways that make sense.
Student comments include:
“She keeps her class interesting by giving projects that are realistic. There is a high turnout every class. She doesn’t make it mandatory but makes class enjoyable. Time goes by fast in her class. She works with the students until everyone understands. She wants us to have a true understanding of accounting that we will take with us.” “Very helpful in a hard subject – accounting. Always has a smile on her face and is very positive. Great teacher all the way around. “
“Tracey made accounting fun and really made me want to become an accountant when I graduated. “
“When dealing with such subjects, it can be really hard to get the students involved in class, but showing it in a perspective to which the students can say – ‘hey I should really pay attention and I can use this – outside of class,’ shows a real dynamic for her teaching. “
Hawkins says of her choice to switch career paths: “I am thankful for the valuable experience I garnered and I hope that I can give my student the fire to be successful as well.”
Hawkins earned the Excellence in Teaching Award at Clermont College (2004). Additionally she has been nominated consistently by students for the Excellence in Teaching Award and Student/Faculty Relations Award at UC Clermont College over the last 15 years.
She earned her master of accountancy from the University of Arizona, masters of business administration and bachelor of science in business administration from the University of Tulsa.
“I am deeply humbled by the honor of being nominated by the students who are the core of my daily purpose in education,” said Hawkins.