By Rubendran Sathupathy
Assoc. Prof. Dr. S. Geetha Subramaniam, Dean of Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at INTI International University has won the National Outstanding Educator Award in the university category as part of the 2022 Private Education Excellence Awards organized by the Koperasi Pendidikan Swasta Malaysia Berhad.
Dr. Geetha said INTI’s Head of Teaching and Learning Centre, Subashini Rajanthran, sent out an email requesting nomination for this award and she recommended some of her fellow lecturers.
“My Head of Program (Dr. Cheng Wan Hee) then suggested my name and I thought why not?” she said. “We submitted it (list of candidates) through the university, and it was shortlisted by our corporate side.”
Afterwards, she received an email asking her to attend an interview. A panel of three professors interviewed her and asked questions about her thoughts on education and the challenges of teaching while being a dean.
“I love teaching and it is my passion. I want to keep a connection with my students and make them know me as an educator, not just as a dean sitting in an office and giving speeches during events” she said.
“The most important thing when I am teaching is the quality of response from my students. It gives me satisfaction if they can not only understand the subject but also take it further by asking questions and analyzing the content. This shows they can synthesize and apply the information,” she added.
Dr. Geetha stressed that teachers must engage students by interacting with them and the topics should apply to current events.
“For example, I incorporated Covid-19 related questions into my exam scripts and assignment questions. Questions are theoretical so there are no right or wrong answers. We have discussed it in class, so it all depends on how they apply their knowledge.
“I asked my students about their thoughts on Covid-19 being a conspiracy when we talked about bioethics. Most of them said no, [it is not] because of the scientific basis, but a few said yes because pharmaceutical companies want to make profits. It was gratifying to hear their thoughts, so I gave marks for justification.”
“The most satisfying feeling as an educator
is watching your students make an
impact in their careers and the world”
She admitted that she was shocked and surprised to win. She did not expect it because the interview was quite fast.
“It was supposed to take 15 minutes but was over in less than 8 minutes. Honestly, I was a bit disappointed because I did not have the opportunity to say a lot. I wanted to share with them (the judges) my evaluation reports and students’ feedback,” she said.
Dr. Geetha believed her experience and connection with her students, not just as a dean but also as a lecturer, gave her an advantage over the other candidates.
“The most satisfying feeling as an educator is watching your students make an impact in their careers and the world, and knowing you had a part to play in their successes. I am grateful to INTI for giving me this opportunity,” she said.
When asked about the reaction from her family and friends, she acknowledged that she had not told many people but her “family and colleagues were very proud and supportive” of her.
“This award shows that I am in the right direction and is a recognition that I am doing the right thing by my students. I am thankful for this affirmation,” she concluded.
The awards ceremony will be held on 24th November at M Resort & Hotel, Bukit Kiara, Kuala Lumpur.