For Dr. Susan Kraus, associate professor of psychology at Fort Lewis College and recipient of the 2013 Alice Admire Outstanding Teaching Award, began, in part, by getting criticized while earning her graduate degrees from the University of Colorado-Boulder.
Dr. Susan Kraus
“As a graduate student, I was chastised for spending too much time mentoring my students, and was pushed to prioritize research,” she recalls. “While I love research, and have not neglected that part of my career, teaching always will be my highest priority.”
Her commitment to teaching drove her to find a place to spend her career that truly valued teaching above all else. After earning her Ph.D. in social psychology, she and her husband searched for the right institution that fit their priorities. For Dr. Kraus, she found what she was looking for at FLC.
Her aim as a teacher of psychology is to both help her students lead more fulfilling and informed lives, while showing them how to make the world around them a better place.
“I believe that the study of psychology is of great benefit to society,” she says. “Students who understand human behavior and diversity are well equipped to be leaders, scientists and engaged citizens. Building compassion and understanding toward one’s self and others is crucial to leading a fulfilling life in service to others.”
Her excellence in teaching shows in the growth of her students over the course of their time in her classroom. Her goals as an educator echo the goals of Fort Lewis College as a liberal arts institution, that being creating graduates who are self-sufficient, independent and thoughtful, and who will thirst for knowledge all their lives.
“The highest compliment to my teaching is students who think more critically after taking my classes,” she says. “When they complain that they no longer believe most of what they read, I know I have done my job. When they value their own research, and quality research of others, I know I have lit a spark that will lead to life-long learning.”
“All these things tell me I have chosen the right path and am making a difference.”