August 2013—Dr. Debra Rose Wilson ’06, a contributing faculty member in the School of Psychology, a PhD in Psychology graduate, and a 2012 Scholar of Change, was honored with Walden University’s 2013 Presidential Award for Faculty Excellence at a ceremony in Minneapolis. Dr. Wilson received this award in recognition of her personalized instruction, welcoming style, and push for excellence.

“Dr. Wilson fills a unique niche in distance education,” wrote Dana Marie Dillard, a Ph.D. in Psychology student who nominated Dr. Wilson for the award. “She creates an environment in which her students feel valued, challenged, and capable of achieving more.”

Dr. Wilson makes a point to reach out to all of her students in class. Not only does she engage students in frequent discussions in the classroom, she also offers publishing opportunities and makes a point to deepen connections when she attends residencies.

“I find if you love the material you’re teaching, you’re passionate about it, and you point out opportunities in classes, at residencies, and in your feedback for research or careers to students, it’s a fuller learning experience for them,” she explains. “I think it’s my job to enrich our students.”

Cultivating Scholar-Practitioners
Although the contributing faculty member teaches in the School of Psychology, her work is enriched by her background in nursing, where she gained expertise in public health, obstetrics, epidemiology, breast-feeding trends, wellness, disease prevention, and nursing education.

Through her career as a faculty member, she blends her professional experience with psychology. As a tenured professor at Middle Tennessee State University, she teaches courses at a graduate level in holistic nursing, biopsychology, stress and coping, and complementary and alternative therapies as well as other courses in both the psychology and nursing schools.

Dr. Wilson also makes a point to align her volunteer work with her duties as a faculty member; she edits the International Journal of Childbirth Education, reviewing and editing submissions for practitioners who care for the childbearing family. What she finds most fulfilling, though, is inviting her students to edit and publish for the journal.

“I encourage my students to submit,” she says. Although they won’t all make it through the peer-review process, many do, which means they are actively putting their research into practice. “It’s so nice to offer opportunities to our scholars and watch them grow,” she continues.

Dr. Wilson also makes a point to exercise her muscles as a scholar-practitioner. She has a private practice as an advanced holistic nurse to provide grief counseling, hypnosis, and lactation consulting. The latter, she says, reminds her of the importance of all of her work. “I empower mothers to breast-feed by building up their confidence,” she explains.

“I get to make an even bigger ripple at Walden,” she continues. “When you teach, you send out a ripple. I change my students each time we interact. Being mindful of that influence and watching the ripple of change they send out to everyone they touch in their careers is my purpose in life.”

About the Award
The Presidential Award for Faculty Excellence is selected by the university president from the elite pool of Faculty Excellence Award honorees. This faculty member demonstrates unmatched dedication to the university, its mission, and its vision and exemplifies the Walden educator’s role in empowering students to advance positive social change in their communities.

Read more about the Presidential Award for Faculty Excellence.

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