Grove City College professor of Biology Dr. Kristina O. Pazehoski ’01 is the 2018 Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK) Professor of the Year.
Pazehoski, who also serves as chair of the Department of Biology, accepted the honor Thursday during a service in Harbison Chapel.
College President Paul J. McNulty ’80 announced the honor and said Pazehoski is an accomplished professor who invests time in and out of the classroom to her students. “She cares about students,” he said, citing a student who nominated her for the award. “She really wants to see students succeed and cares about them as people.”
“I recall one student put succinctly and strikingly: ‘When I leave here and grow up, I want to be just like her,’” McNulty said.
Pazehoski earned her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Duquesne University after graduating from Grove City College in 2001, where she studied under 2016 Professor of the Year Dr. Charles Kriley.
“I’m a Grove City grad myself, so I’m thrilled to follow in the footsteps of several of my own favorite professors who have won this award previously. As a freshman in Dr. Kriley’s gen chem class in the fall of 1997, I never would have imagined that I would someday be the one in front of the classroom at this wonderful institution, let alone be awarded this great honor,” she said.
“I’m grateful to God for leading me to GCC for my collegiate career, and for leading me back again as a professor 10 years after graduating with a degree in biochemistry. This school has been life-giving to me in so many ways,” she said.
Pazehoski, originally from Kane, Pa., talked about how her time as a student at the College prepared her for graduate school and expressed her gratitude to professors who helped her become confident in as both a Christian and a scientist.
“My professors at GCC never shied away from discussing concepts that are often perceived as difficult for someone with faith to reconcile as they pursue a career in science. They presented these discussions with respect and humility, providing a great example for how to engage these ideas with others out in the real world,” she said.
She also met her husband Bob at Grove City College, at a square dance the night before classes started their freshman year. The couple have five children – twins Henry and Jesse, 10, Lucy, 8, Elijah, 4 and Tabitha, 7 months – but Pazehoski still finds time for students outside the classroom. Every Friday night during the spring semester, students have an open invitation to dinner at the Pazehoski home. She also serves as a facilitator with a Campus Ministries women’s discipleship group.
“I see myself in those of you who struggle to gain your footing in the early portions of your time here, and I hope that I have done a good job of expressing to you that I’ve been in that uncomfortable position, that I’m available as a resource to help you through it, and that your identity and worth is not determined by your grades,” she said. “Yet I know there are some of you who I have let fall through the cracks, and for that I am sorry. I’m still a work in progress and I recognize the need for improvement in making myself accessible. I do love working with all of you, and I view myself as privileged to contribute to your academic training, and, maybe to a small extent, your personal growth.”
“God has taught me in these past few years that when I limit myself to my comfort zones, I don’t grow. Taking some bold steps in faith has shown me that the Lord’s sufficiency prevails over my inadequacy, and in the process, He has fostered the formation of relationships with some pretty awesome people that I otherwise would have never known,” she concluded.
The Professor of the Year was initiated in 2000 by the Omicron Delta Kappa campus leadership honorary and is sponsored by the Grove City College Alumni Association. Past winners include: Dr. Scott Powell (2017), Dr. Charles Kriley (2016), Dr. H. Collin Messer (2015), Dr. Constance Nichols (2014), Dr. Paul Kemeny (2013), Dr. Erik Anderson (2012), Dr. Mark Graham (2011), Betsy (Boak ’77) Craig (2010), Dr. Eric Potter (2009), Dr. David Jones (2008), Larry Fleming (2007), Dr. Ralph Carlson ’62 (2006), Dr. James Bibza (2005), Richard Leo (2004), Dr. James Dixon (2003), Dr. Timothy Homan (2002), Dr. John Sparks ’66 (2001) and Dr. Gary Smith ’72 (2000).