Congratulations to the awardees!
Rain could not keep people away from the Experiential Learning Excellence Awards & Inspiration Brunch that took place on October 5th. The event recognized the accomplishments of Experiential Learning Initiative Course Developers and Ambassadors, provided attendees with opportunities to learn about next steps for experiential learning at the University of Texas at Austin, and honored the 2023 ELE Award winners. Those present were able to develop new professional connections and reconnect with UT faculty and staff involved in experiential learning.
About the ELE Awards
The ELE Awards are directly connected to recommendations made to UT-Austin by the 2018 Experiential Learning Working Group. The awards are based on student nominations and focus on recognizing individuals who exemplify excellence in experiential learning and who create environments in which all students feel able to bring their whole selves to their unique Longhorn Learning Experience. This year, 47 members of the UT community were nominated, across most Colleges and Schools; several academic-support units were also represented.
For the second year, the Experiential Learning Excellence Awards and Inspiration Brunch was held at the Kendra Scott Center in the Doty Fine Arts Building. The Kendra Scott Center is a student-focused space designed as a hub for creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship.
Brandelyn Flunder currently serves as the Director for the Multicultural Engagement Center and has 16+ years of higher education. Brandelyn graduated from the University of Texas in 2007 with a Bachelor of Arts in History and in 2013 with a Master of Education from the Program in Higher Education Leadership with a concentration in college and university student personnel administration. Specific interests within higher education and student affairs include college access, drop-prevention, pre-college youth growth and development, and mentoring. She currently serves as a staff advisor for the Black Student Alliance and Black Graduate Student Association, as lead facilitator for the MEC’s Leadership as Activism course, lead coordinator for the MEC’s Cultural Immersion Experiences, and chair of the Black Graduation Planning Committee.
Christopher Aarons is an Assistant Professor of Instruction in the Department of Marketing at The University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business. He teaches courses on critical problem solving and decision making, dynamic communication, delegation and accountability, and the fundamentals of negotiation. Chris’s courses are designed to be used immediately, in student’s internships, jobs or in the hiring process. His goal is to prepare every student to walk away with the ideas and insights needed to immediately make strides in whatever their chosen career is or will be. Chris was a 2023 Master of Science in Marketing Instructor of The Year, and awardee of the 2022 Hank and Mary Harkins Foundation Award for Effective Teaching in Undergraduate Classes and received the CBA Foundation Award for Innovation in Teaching in 2021.
"I am in my third year as an assistant professor of practice within the Freshman Research Initiative. My bio-prospecting lab is made up of a team of ~50 undergraduates who train to learn basic wet lab skills and concepts, and apply their training to pursue novel research questions around topics such as plant response to heavy metals or the search for plastic-degrading microbes/enzymes."