Medina Wins NACTA Teaching Award

Daniela Medina, a second-year graduate student at the University of Arkansas, has been awarded the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) graduate student teaching award for her service and outstanding performance in the classroom.

Medina was involved with the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT) during her time as an undergraduate at Texas A&M University and now serves as the graduate student advisor for the ACT chapter at the University of Arkansas. Medina learned about NAFB through her undergraduate advisor, Dr. Deborah Dunsford, and has been a student member ever since. ACT and NAFB are two organizations that have helped Medina become the agricultural communicator she is today.

To win the NACTA teaching award, nominees must apply with a form of nomination from a faculty or staff member. Applicants also must submit his/her personal teaching philosophy, current teaching responsibilities, and letters of recommendation from students.

Out of hundreds of applications, only roughly 30 awards are given. This year, the University of Arkansas brought home two graduate student teaching awards from the 2022 NACTA Annual Conference. Hannah Chambers, also a second-year graduate student, was recognized for her exemplary performance as a teaching assistant.

While Medina’s graduate assistantship is based in the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food & Life Sciences Dean’s Office, she also has had ample opportunities to assist various professors in their classrooms. She works on the communications team in the Dean’s Office, so she wanted to be able to translate her practical knowledge to undergraduate agricultural communications students.

“I expressed with my advisors that if it was possible, I would like to have classroom teaching experience on top of my current assistantship. If I could teach the material I learned during my undergraduate and graduate studies, I knew I would have a better understanding of communications skills,” Medina said.

Medina has a strong passion for communication and hopes to spread that love to her students. The NACTA graduate teaching award has inspired her future career.

“To be recognized with the NACTA Graduate Assistant teaching award inspires me to strive to continue to foster positive relationships with my students. It means a lot, but I want to continue improving upon this so I can be the best I can be for my students. The graduate assistants who mentored me during my undergraduate career have and continue to make an impact on me. They are also recipients of this award, and to be recognized like them is an honor and one that I do not hold lightly,” Medina said.