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DOWNTOWN | GSU Professor receives $25,000 award for 'inspiring' students | Education

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DOWNTOWN | GSU Professor receives $25,000 award for 'inspiring' students

ATLANTA -- Great professors don't teach -- they inspire.

That's what a college student wrote about his Georgia State University professor -- a professor who is so inspiring, she just received a $25,000 award that honors professors based on what their students have gone on to accomplish after graduation because of those professors.

The GSU professor, Dr. Layli Phillips Maparyan, dares her students to think big.

"I was totally thrilled, because this is the first teaching award that I've ever received, so it was very exciting," Dr. Maparyan said Monday. "I came into teaching with a passion for giving people the information and ideas that would motivate them and inspire them to change the world around them, so the fact that there's actually an award that recognizes this kind of teaching was just very heart warming.

For twenty years, this professor of women's studies has been telling her students they can change the world.

And Saturday night in Atlanta, surrounded by many of her students, Dr. Maparyan was one of only 15 professors from across the country this year to receive the $25,000 Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award because of what her students have accomplished since graduation.

Her students are now teachers and educators and entrepreneurs and social workers, and they are the ones who nominated her.

Their nominating letters are stories of aimless exploration and youthful indecision turned into life-long commitment and conviction, and dreams fulfilled, all because of one college professor who changed their lives, empowering them to "change the world."

"Layli has helped me to understand that if I could follow my own heart, I could change the world."

"She transformed me into an agent of change."

"I draw upon her role modeling to challenge, inspire and motivate my students to make a difference in their world."

"To this day, I still use her resources and ideas in the creation and maintenance of my school."

"More than a professor, she represents a mentor, friend and sister."

"She equips students with a critical way of thinking that leads to doing."

"Great professors don't teach, they inspire. Their students don't just learn, but can imagine. There has been no great idea without a great mind, and no great mind without a great teacher, and Dr. Layli Phillips Maparyan is one of those teachers."

Maparyan (mu-PY-un, "the 'r' is silent, it sort of rhymes with papaya," she says with a smile) learned about the award just before Christmas.

"I'm a professor who cares deeply about students' own self-actualization. I want them to recognize their purpose for being on earth. I want them to live out their mission and not feel hindered. It begins with just recognizing the student as a person. You know, often education has become very bureaucratic and impersonal. And when you sit a student down and you say, 'what do you really want to do, here's what I see as your talents, here's something special that I see about you,'.... To me it sort of begins with that sort of a process of recognizing them as an individual with beautiful traits and qualities, and wonderful talents and gifts. If you start there, it can only go well from that point forward."

She mentors her students not only before graduation, but often years after graduation.

She expects them to think big -- never settle.

"I'm just so proud of my students for the creativity that they've shown in changing the world around them."

According to Georgia State University, "The Gail McKnight Beckman Trust was founded in 2008 under the will of Gail McKnight Beckman in honor of her mother, Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman. Since its inception, the Beckman Trust has donated more than $150,000. The trust is administered by Wells Fargo." 

LINK:  Georgia State University announcement of award

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