UTSA Professor Honored for Commitment to Students and Other Faculties | UTSA Today | UTSA – Advice Eating

“Professor Abdo’s commitment to the classroom and her students is unparalleled,” she said Debra Pena, Director and Assistant Professor of the Writing Program at University College. “Serving students, helping them achieve their goals, and ensuring that each student receives exemplary instruction is at the heart of all of Professor Abdo’s courses, committee activities, and her commitment to the community.”

For Abdo, learning was a lifelong endeavor. Even as a child, she enjoyed everyday school life and enjoyed trips to the city library to browse through the stacks of books. Abdo now shares this love of learning in her own classroom, educating countless students throughout her 49-year teaching career.

“I teach because I love to learn,” said Abdo. “A student once asked me why I use the phrase ‘go to school’ instead of ‘go to work’ when referring to teaching at UTSA. The reason is simple: I learn every time I’m with students.”

A San Antonio native, he has impacted the lives of students at UTSA and other schools across the city. After earning her bachelor’s degree in English from St. Mary’s University, she spent nearly a decade teaching secondary education at various schools in San Antonio.

During this time, she also completed a Masters in English from UTSA. She officially transitioned from student to UTSA faculty member in 1980 after teaching for three years at San Antonio College. Abdo is now one of UTSA’s longest-serving faculty members, and she still finds joy in each class she teaches after nearly five decades of teaching.

“I still look forward to meeting with my students — even if the meeting has to take place via Zoom,” said Abdo. “After 49 years in this profession, I am still passionate about teaching. It continues to bring me joy and inspiration.”

A major highlight of Abdo’s time at UTSA was her work developing new courses for both the Writing Program and Honors College. With an emphasis on the Classroom to Career model, she aims to provide her students with experiential learning environments where they can acquire real-world, transferable knowledge.

For example, in her Writing for Pre-Law course, she helps students improve their logical thinking and analytical reasoning skills while learning to write in the clear and concise style common in the legal field. Abdo also brings to her class the practical knowledge gained from her 2019 Master of Jurisprudence at Texas A&M School of Law.

Abdo’s commitment to experiential learning is part of a larger UTSA initiative to implement programs that enable students to gain a better understanding of the marketable skills they need to be successful in the workplace. These opportunities are especially important for linking success in the classroom to life after graduation, especially for historically underserved populations.

“Your legal writing course was formative for my development as a student and as a writer,” wrote a former law student who is now studying law. “I’m one of many students who have felt the impact of her teaching and can directly attribute my journey to her.”

As a former journalist and technical writing specialist for her own consulting group, Abdo also brings her unique personal experience to construct engaging lessons that are more comprehensive than what could be found in a textbook alone.

Abdo’s innovative course design includes her “Cook. Meal. To write. Repeat.” Class, a course of the Writing Program offered in partnership with Honors College, is one of the most popular courses she has developed. It allows students to create their own cookbook while exploring the historical and cultural aspects of cooking Students also learn the writing, design, and collaborative work that goes into publishing a cookbook.

“Her reputation, like all students, was well known to me because she was an indispensable professor,” wrote another former student. “Her teaching method is proving to be both effective and invigorating, and her mentorship has been invaluable.”

Abdo was also chief adviser to the independent newspaper UTSA, The Paisano, since 40 years. She gives students an insight into journalism by introducing them to newswriting, design, accounting, marketing, social media, and the many other elements that go into creating a news publication. Some of her former students have taken these skills with them since graduating and started careers in journalism at media companies like this Los Angeles Times and National Geographic.

“Diane has had a profound, transformative impact on hundreds of UTSA students, both inside and outside of the classroom,” she said Heather Shipley, UTSA Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Dean of University College. “She is among the most distinguished faculty in the university for her ability to engage with and inspire students and her commitment to higher education.”

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