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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

TR professor takes care to encourage students

TR computer science professor and Chancellor’s Award winner Tyson McMillan helps student Nancy Valdez.Audrey Werth/The Collegian
TR computer science professor and Chancellor’s Award winner Tyson McMillan helps student Nancy Valdez.

Audrey Werth/The Collegian

By Audrey Werth/ tr news editor

Part one in a five-part series on winners of the Chancellor’s Award for Exemplary Teaching, an annual recognition of professor who impress and inspire their students.

Computer science professor Tyson McMillan, this year’s TR Chancellor’s Award recipient, has worked with the campus since its opening.

McMillan was drawn to teaching from a young age. It wasn’t until he got to college, though, that he realized what he would teach.

“I tell the students, as a first-generation college student, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do,” he said.

TR computer science professor and Chancellor’s Award winner Tyson McMillan helps student Nancy Valdez.Audrey Werth/The Collegian
TR computer science professor and Chancellor’s Award winner Tyson McMillan helps student Nancy Valdez.
Audrey Werth/The Collegian

At first, McMillan thought he would be a psychology major but realized he wasn’t passionate enough about it. He considered teaching secondary mathematics but decided it required more calculus than he wanted to do, but this led him to computer information systems.

“The toughest problem for me is needing information from someone who has information, but they don’t want to share it,” he said. “Four of my five degrees have the word information in them. I’m an information specialist. I have to share.”

McMillan said his undergraduate degree was the most difficult aspect of his education. He had mentors who encouraged him and helped him go on to graduate school.

“When I got to understand that the master’s degree was only 36 hours, I said, ‘Bring it on,’” he said.

McMillan began teaching at Collin College while pursuing a doctorate full time at the University of North Texas. Then in 2009, he jumped at the opportunity to teach computer science full time on TR.

“It means something very special when a student comes through here and I have the opportunity not only to impart knowledge but also to learn from them,” he said.

As a professor, McMillan works to make learning constructive for students of all learning styles, and he takes great care to respond promptly to his student’s questions.

“I wake up early in the morning thinking about lesson plans,” he said. “I’m infamous, if you look at Rate My Professor, for responding to students at 3 o’clock in the morning because I am passionate about making sure they have the information that they need.”

McMillan is curious about his students. He spends one-on-one time with each and goes out of his way to help them beyond what he teaches in class.

Freda Smith, a former student, said he goes above and beyond and makes learning enjoyable.

“In fact,” she said, “I’m back in school now because he went through all of the steps with me to help me get back in school.”

Smith, 55, said she had never met a professor so concerned with the success of his students.

“If you text him at 2 a.m., you will get a response probably by 2:15,” she said.

McMillan said he works to give students the same kind of support his mentors gave him.

He founded the Phi Theta Kappa chapter on TR Campus and worked with the organization for five years.

“I think the most overlooked group in terms of scholarships and everything else are individuals on their way to being Phi Theta Kappa,” he said.

He strongly believes in these students and works to give them the extra push they need to be highly successful, he said.

“Those are some of the best success moments for me as a teacher,” he said, “to see someone who struggled, come back and be victorious.”

Ryan Jones, now a Columbia graduate, worked with McMillan as Phi Theta Kappa president.

Jones said McMillan was a huge influence on him during his time at TCC.

“He encouraged students to think past community college and asked members to identify and vocalize our dreams,” Jones said. “It is without question that he helped mold my aspirations. Had I not encountered Dr. McMillan, I would not be where I am today.”

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