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York College physics professor wins Outstanding Student Advisor award

Dr. Inci Ruzybayev, Professor of Physics

Dr. Inci Ruzybayev remembers putting her whole heart and soul into helping her students succeed during her first year as a physics professor at York College of Pennsylvania.

She found it challenging, rewarding, and, at times, overwhelming.

“I was so glad I survived it,” she says, laughing. “I got really sick right after the final exam.”

Today, Dr. Ruzybayev feels a lot more comfortable in her role, and after finishing her third year at the college, she’s being recognized for the work she’s done to help her students.

She recently won the Outstanding Student Advisor award, which is given to just one faculty member each year. It’s student-nominated, and the winner is selected by the Student Senate.

“I was totally surprised,” she says. “It’s coming from the students. Nothing else can top that.”

Helping her help students

Dr. Ruzybayev was one of 20 nominees being considered for the award.

The funny thing is, she says, is that she’s worked really hard at being the kind of student advisor she has become, she says.

She credits the college student policy handbook and website, as well as her colleagues in the Engineering department and throughout York College for helping her: answering all of her questions and offering trainings to help her really make the most of her role as an advisor.

All of those resources, she says, helped her get the answers she needed to help her students who had been asking her so many questions early on that she didn’t yet know.

Getting to know her students

One of her favorite tools she uses to work with students is her own Moodle page, an online document that includes everything her students need to know. She lets them know very early on about that resource so they can stay on top of their semester, her hours and other important details.

All of her advisees are also students in her classes, so she really tries to get to know them.

“They see me three times a week, so there’s no escaping me,” she says.

But what she’s most passionate about is helping her students – most of whom are freshmen – master the basics of time management and study skills during their first semester.

“In engineering, the second semester workload is so much heavier than the rest of the year,” she says. “I warn my students about this. I help them become aware of the bigger picture so they can improve their skills now.”

Going the extra mile

It's not uncommon for many of her students to face challenges that first semester as they acclimate themselves to college life.

“That is actually so normal, I tell them,” she says.

But when she sees her students grow and develop and start to really soar, that is when she feels most proud.

She said going this extra mile for her students means everything to her.

“I really care about them,” she says. “Sometimes I wonder if I care too much. I take things personally. I feel like I overdo it sometimes. But, I think I’m doing the right thing.”

‘I really love my job’

As she heads into her fourth year of teaching Introductory Physics for Engineering students, she is still busy trying to perfect her courses and get them just right.

 She created a support group for Women in Science and Engineering (WISE). This Fall the group will help organize the Tech Tinkers program, which works with school-age students around York County on coding and tinkering.

She’s also is an advisor for a new STEM Learning Community that begins this fall at York College, and will be advising 20 college students in a residential learning program that will be a four-year process. During that experience, she’ll be following how the students change from their freshman year to their senior year.

“I do volunteer for so many things,” she says. “But I really love my job, so it’s all good.”