The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

SE teacher helps students discover dream job fields

By Marley Malenfant/feature editor

Part one in a five-part series on winners of the Chancellor’s Award for Exemplary Teaching, an annual recognition of professors who impress and inspire their students. After teaching 13 years at TCC, SE associate professor of sociology Sharon Wettengel has earned a Chancellor’s Award for Exemplary Teaching.

Before teaching, Wettengel’s first career was in medical social work. Her career in social work led to her first teaching job at Tarleton State University.

While she enjoyed her job at the university, she didn’t want to stay there long-term.

“I worked 30 years in social work and then was given an opportunity to teach,” she said. “It was very far away. I liked the class but didn’t like the drive. So then I was given an opportunity to work as an adjunct at NW Campus.”

When Wettengel was hired at TCC, she began to teach sociology along with social work. She said her lectures are discussion-driven. She wants her students to push the class.

“I think other instructors might be more of a lecture style,” she said. “What they’re [students] able to do is take the course content we learn in class and then apply that to their service learning experience. And that’s when the light bulbs come on and they go, ‘Wow, I remember talking about this in class.’”

Wettengel said many of her lectures are focused on poverty, gender expectations, family, health care and education. She said most of her classes are based on her experience as a social worker. She tells her students about the benefits of being a social worker.

“There is such a wide range of opportunities,” she said. “They can work at prisons. They can work at schools. My experience was health care. I worked with cancer patients. A lot of it was helping with quality-of-life issues and helping families cope.”

Wettengel is quick to remind her students who go into social work that the job can be depressing. She said a social worker’s job is to make a difference in people’s lives no matter how the person’s current life is.

“A young man was in a car accident off 360 highway,” she said. “I was called in to be with the family, and they were hovered around him. I thought how important it would be for the wife to have the chance to be with him. I brought the family with me in the suite. She [the wife] needed that closure.

“That’s one of the things I try to teach my students. You have to think, ‘What might I want in a situation like that?’”

SE student Rebekah Bondurant took Wettengel’s sociology and marriage and family courses. She said she enjoys the classes because Wettengel is willing to share her experience as a social worker.

“Everyone gets a say so in her class,” she said. “It’s not all about her. She cares what her students have to say the most.”

After reading positive comments on the website Rate My Professor, SE student Simone Roque said she had to sign up for a class.

“She’s really down to earth,” she said. “She’s very family-oriented.”

2009 Chancellor’s Award winner Ernest Gines said the award is a reflection of what students do in the classroom as well as out.

“It’s building confidence in the students in the classroom, so they’ll use it outside.”

Wettengel said many of her students subconsciously want to be social workers. She said her job isn’t just teaching but also putting her students in the right career path.

“I will frequently have students say, ‘I want to major in psychology or sociology,’” she said. “And I’ll say, ‘Tell me what you really want to do. Describe your dream job.’ And so often what they’re really describing is a social work position. I’ll help them work through which one might be better for them. Really, it’s rewarding to know they’ve found the direction they have been looking for.”

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