It’s difficult to stand out in an English program with so many outstanding students, but even harder to do so as a minor. Still, that’s exactly what senior Mikaela Gerba has done and why she’s this year’s recipient of the Needler-McGregor Award for Excellence in English.
Gerba, a secondary education major, has impressed many of her professors within Humanities and Communication with her strong work ethic and intelligence. HAC professor Dr. Sarah Young commented on her, “She brings so much passion to the classroom. I wish I could clone her and have a classroom of Mikaelas.”
Students took notice, as well. One commented that, “Mikaela is truly a student who does everything that is expected (even all the readings! All of them!), and never fails to ask for help when she needs it.”
Another student comment noted she, “Lives and breathes education. Her love for teaching and English is contagious; she is truly passionate about it all and that becomes increasingly evident the more one gets to know Mikaela.”
In addition to her performance in the classroom, Gerba serves as tutor in the Writing Center. There she is respected not just by her fellow tutors, but also by students coming in looking for help on an essay. That led to Writing Center Director and HAC professor Dr. Cassandra Bausman naming her this year’s Outstanding Senior Writing Center Tutor, as well.
Gerba isn’t stopping here with her love of English, either. In the fall, she will start at Angola High School as an English teacher, primarily teaching juniors. HAC Department Chair Justin Young said Gerba’s new position certainly resonates with the faculty. “There’s something special about one of our own leaving the nest to go spread the love of literature to even more students. We’re very proud of all that she’s accomplished and will continue to.”
Maryellen Needler-McGregor, for whom the award is named, was a Tri-State University English alum. After graduation, she worked for alumni development and eventually served as an assistant to the university president. HAC emeritus professor Dr. Tom Tierney describes her as one who was “extremely articulate, had excellent manners, and really knew how to treat people.”