Professor Named Hullabaloo U Instructor of the Year
Out of 72 nominees, Catharina Laporte was selected as Texas A&M University’s first Hullabaloo U Instructor of the Year.
By Rachel Knight ‘18
Catharina Laporte, instructional associate professor and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Anthropology, is Texas A&M University’s first Hullabaloo U Instructor of the Year.
Laporte was selected out of 119 nominations for 72 individual instructors campus-wide. The award recognizes Laporte’s dedication to supporting the success of her students. She credits her own experiences as an undergraduate with fueling her drive to help others succeed.
“I was a first-year, first generation, diverse student myself,” Laporte shared. “I remember what it was like to feel lost, confused, frustrated, different and alone in a sea of faces.”
Laporte explained the most important factor in a successful undergraduate experience is having a sense of belonging. Her desire to help all students feel welcome at Texas A&M makes her a more effective instructor and a beloved mentor.
“You have earned your place and have a right to be here, but sometimes you don’t feel that way,” Laporte said. “Hullabaloo U and other programs like it give you that sense of belonging. It is a safe place where you can be yourself, find your peeps, learn about all the amazing resources and opportunities this university provides. Many of my students find it akin to ‘coming home’ every week to check in with people who care.”
One of the students who anonymously nominated Laporte for the Hullabaloo U Instructor of the year award said Laporte’s kind spirit and caring inquires into her students needs made all the difference in their first year at Texas A&M.
“To know an instructor who cares that much about my success makes me feel like she is another mother, a school mother,” the student confided. “She encourages us to explore our thoughts and interactively values everyone’s opinion. The kind and gentle smile she has makes you want to confide in her and tell her your worries. She has reached out to so many people including people from the Academic Success Center, the Career Center, the libraries, the Money Education Center and given us books to read that help us think about our future. The future of being further educated and our callings.”
While her students say they gain invaluable support from Laporte, she said they’re not the only ones who benefit from the student-teacher bond formed in her Hullabaloo U class.
“It gives me a great sense of purpose, as well as a reality check,” Laporte said. “Many of our students have to deal with huge life-changing hurdles on their road to graduation: parents and sibling dying; identity crises, homelessness and food insecurity, harassment, mental illness, as well as dealing with debilitating bureaucracy — often as professors we are oblivious to these struggles. My involvement with these students has grounded me in reality (a reality that I am often sheltered from because of my status now).”
Hullabaloo U instructors are volunteers from across campus. They include both faculty and staff in all departments and colleges university wide. To be chosen as the first Hullabaloo U Instructor of the Year in university history is no small honor, but then again Laporte’s dedication to her students is no small feat.
“It makes me especially proud to be chosen from such a large number of extremely worthy and dedicated nominees,” Laporte shared. “I was involved in the original planning committee for Hullabaloo U. It is wonderful to see the program grow, achieve success and have a positive impact.”