2019 Outstanding TA Award: Brett Keegan

April 29, 2019
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Congratulations to Brett Keegan, doctoral candidate in the Composition and Cultural Rhetoric program, for being awarded a 2019 Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award. Selection for the Outstanding TA award is made by a university-wide committee of faculty recognized for their teaching excellence, and is given to approximately the top 4% of all TAs campus wide.

In response to receiving this award, Brett says, "I feel honored to receive this reward during my time here at Syracuse. I have learned a great deal about pedagogy in the classroom, through mentors, and through coursework and community functions with faculty and peers. In an increasingly ‘post-truth’ world, rhetoric, literacy, and other skills that we work with in the classroom are increasingly important. I feel privileged to have worked with students here in Syracuse—learning from them as well—and l look forward to continuing this work."

The following are excerpts from letters nominating Brett for this award:

"In addition to supporting students’ individual needs and goals, Brett fosters a sense of collective purpose in his courses by encouraging engagement with the diversity of perspectives, experiences, resources, and rhetorical strategies present in every class. He accomplishes this exchange, in large part, through carefully designed courses, assignments and daily activities. Through my engagement with Brett’s teaching, I’ve been consistently impressed by his ability to balance the, often, competing demands of academic life in ways that make his students feel as though they are always receiving his full attention and best effort. Across his course evaluations, Brett is consistently recognized for his responsiveness and availability to students."—Brice Nordquist, Assistant Professor of Writing & Rhetoric, Graduate Director

"In each of his courses, he has developed a curriculum informed by commitment and dedication to student success, and he has repeatedly proven himself to be sensitive to the diverse needs of his students. ‘Since students have different goals, learning styles, and abilities in the composition classroom,’ he writes in his teaching statement, ‘I want to open a space where they can grapple with individual concept formation and learning objectives, encouraging them to take ownership of their writing tasks, situations, goals, and voices.’ This sensitivity towards student agency truly distinguishes Brett; students particularly comment on how much they appreciate him and the flexibility he offers them."—Patrick W. Berry, Chair, Writing Studies, Rhetoric, and Composition, Associate Professor of Writing and Rhetoric

"When I first observed Brett’s teaching, I was struck both by his rapport with students and the degree to which his teaching style is aligned with how he conducts himself in other professional settings. Brett had years of experience teaching prior to coming to graduate school at Syracuse, and I think that this contributed to his calm, confident demeanor in the classroom . . . . Brett is a creative and ethically conscientious teacher-scholar, and his teaching is worthy of recognition."—Tony Scott, Associate Professor of Writing and Rhetoric

"He encouraged so much participation, and there were lots of awesome discussions and relatable articles that we read in class. One memory I have from that class is writing about YouTube and how it uses its platform to control what you watch. It was one of the most interesting topics that I wrote about, and he gave me awesome feedback. I can say that this was my favorite class of my Freshman year. I became more open with people in the class and I was also able to form a relationship with Brett as well."—Tyler Crouch, SU student

"From the moment I entered his class I saw him laughing and smiling with other students. This energy kept the class alive even throughout Syracuse’s bleakest days. Mr. Keegan always kept the class entertained through showing his extensive knowledge of Digital Writing while geeking out about video games, Star Wars, videos on YouTube that were hilarious, and more. This shows personality and willingness to open up to his students who were very receptive and entertained by his vibrant attitude."—Brianna Johannes, SU student

"I found that Brett’s class offered excellent preparation for my writing in college. As an international relations major, most of my coursework involves essay writing and revision, and the ability to think critically about others’ work and structure my reading and watching habits has helped me greatly. I credit much of my writing success to Brett’s class and his approach to writing classes. He’s the finest TA I’ve had in my time at Syracuse and one of my best teachers, and I can think of no better candidate for the Outstanding TA Award."—Sebastian Burns, SU student