By Cheryl Jones
University News Service
June 18, 2007
Mary Brennan and Jennifer A. Beck have been honored with the 2007 Mariel M. Muir Excellence in Mentoring Award at Texas State University-San Marcos.
The Mariel M. Muir Excellence in Mentoring Award, named after the former dean of the College of Science, is given to those who demonstrate their commitment to assisting hopeful professionals. Their time, effort and advice builds the foundation for future leaders and their passion for their work does not go unnoticed.
Texas State President Denise M. Trauth and a board of advisors decide the recipients. The award is given annually to a faculty member and a staff member, along with a letter from the President Trauth, a plaque and a check for $2,500.
Cincinnati native Mary Brennan is the associate professor and graduate advisor for the history department. Her specialty is in post-1945 U.S. history and U.S. diplomatic history. She will have taught for 17 years this coming September. She resides outside of San Marcos with her husband and five-year-old daughter.
For Brennan one of the more important aspects of teaching is getting students to question information and come up with their own conclusions. It’s the process of getting the information that makes Brennan’s outlook so unique.
“I never planned to go into history, I was an English person but by great luck my advisor put me into a history class that he shouldn’t have put me into and it was wonderful,” Brennan said.
Although she never planned to be in Texas or to be a professor, it seems to have all worked out for the best.
“I’ve been so fortunate to have so many people mentor me. I never thought of myself as a great scholar because compared to the other people in this department, I’m not. I work hard at it and I do a good job with what I do but I’m no great scholar.”
The Mairel M. Muir award was a great honor for the history professor it reaffirmed what she felt were her strong points.
“I’m very gratified by this, because what I do best is talking to people and listening to people. I think that is really a big part of it and sometimes you just have to listen,” she said. “I feel good about the fact that it seems like people think I do that well, that I listen to them, and that is very important to me.”
Being an advisor helps students figure out what they need to do in order to succeed and for Brennan it’s all about the students.
“It’s about how I can make them feel that we want them, like we want them to be here and that they are a part of something. I try to deal with people as individuals and to see what they need and how I can help them,” Brennan said. “It’s nice to be recognized for helping people.”
JENNIFER A. BECK
Jennifer A. Beck is the director of Retention Management and Planning. She has been working for Texas State University 11 years this August and focuses most of her time and effort on students. She is originally from the Austin area and now resides in Austin with her husband, whom she met at Texas State. She enjoys the outdoors and is currently working towards a doctorate in the adult education program at Texas State.
For Beck, working with students on a college campus was always a career path. She has had much experience in many different areas of campus life and likes to get involved.
“I really enjoy the college campus. I love the fact that there’s always research going on and that there is always something new. It is full of life,” she said.
Although her schedule is packed, she makes an effort to be available to anyone.
“I’m here to watch you be successful and to support you with the willingness to listen. That ability to listen, to care and to really want to see everybody succeed is why I am on a college campus,” Beck said. “I can relate to so many different people. I come from a large family and we all are very different and everybody has a fascinating story.”
For most students that come through her office, her advice is given from the heart and her ability to relate to most students makes her sought out by many.
“Life is not about a straight road, it is about a journey and a path that is windy and around the bend,” Beck said. “It may be something you never expect but it may be the best thing that ever happened to you.
“I was kind of taken back by receiving the award. It’s a huge honor,” she said. “I thought back to all the students I have mentored. The fact that I still know is very exciting because that is what this award is all about. It’s an affirmation to a commitment to students.”