I'm a Husker: Marianna Burks

Photo Credit: Marianna Burks
Wed, 09/29/2021 - 15:48

Marianna is making science accessible to all students.

"I tell my students, whatever you experienced in biology or science before you have taken my course...throw it out the window," Marianna said. "We are going to reset all of the experiences that you may have had if they were negative in science and biology."

As an instructor for BIOS 101 and LIFE 120, she's dedicated to helping students overcome their struggles in science and realize their capacity for success in the subject.

"I can have students that are straight-A students that say, 'Mrs. Burks, I don't think I'm good at science.' And I'm like, 'What do you mean you're not good at science? You're doing great. But, in terms of if they feel fulfilled in their ability to do science, that's very different from a student's ability to be successful just in college."

To help her students feel empowered by their abilities, Marianna takes on the role of both instructor and mentor. She forms personal connections, shows them the tools they need to succeed, and cheers them on even after the semester is over.

"I enjoy the relationships we develop during our time in the semester, and the other thing is that those students always come back to me."

Her teaching method is also the driving force behind the research she is doing for her dissertation, titled, "An Assessment of the Relationships Critical in Developing Science Self-Efficacy in First-Generation Undergraduate College Students."

Marianna's impact is clear — and the cards she proudly displays in her office from former students prove that her empathy and enthusiasm-led teaching style is effective.

"My passion every day has been to educate the students and serve them...what has been rewarding about what I do is even just the thank-you's that I get." Marianna said. "I have hundreds of thank-you cards...that has also been the reward, to see their journeys, to watch their journeys and to know that I was a part of influencing their journey."

• • 

Marianna Burks is a science learning specialist, biology instructor and educational sciences PhD student from Baton Rouge, LA.

Written by University Communication, added by CAS MarComm.