The refreshing perspective of students who are new every four years offers a continual reminder of the joy of nursing for ACU’s 2023 Teacher of the Year. That freshness is what drew her to a career in higher education, and she says getting to walk alongside young adults during their college years inspires her own life.
Dr. Pricilla (Harris ’98) Wyatt is an assistant professor in the School of Nursing and also the RN-BSN track manager for ACU Dallas. Her mother was a senior living nurse, and Wyatt grew up around the residents and developed an affection for the aging population and admiration for her mother’s work. After graduating from ACU, she spent 16 years in the nursing field as a staff nurse for cardiac acute care and charge nurse at Hendrick Health System in Abilene. The opportunity to teach came at just the right time as she began to experience burnout from the daily work of hospital nursing.
“Having someone remind me that this is new knowledge, to see that lightbulb come on as a student develops a new passion for nursing – I really wanted to share my experiences and be involved in nursing from a different perspective,” Wyatt said.
Her responsibilities include teaching junior- and senior-level courses and overseeing clinical practicums, but it’s not just in the hallways and classrooms of Zona Luce that Wyatt connects with the campus community; she also is a sponsor for Ko Jo Kai sorority and a member of the Faculty Senate and has recently served on the University Scholars committe and the suspension appeals committee.
That level of engagement is the result of a philosophy of teaching that approaches students and education holistically.
“I think you have to meet the student where they are, know what type of learner they are, and not see them as a number in the seat,” Wyatt said. “They are all worthy of a quality education, and they deserve to be there and to be helped to the finish line.”
She focuses on having an open office door as well as meeting students where they are – in coffee shops, at campus events – and inviting them to her house.
“I encourage them to keep social activities in their life, to be well rounded, and also to be aware of their stress level, mental health and time management,” she said. “I’ll counsel them on if they should do Sing Song and what their load is and how to find balance. I try to see them as people with struggles in life just like me. That I get to minister to them and mentor them and be a positive light really puts in perspective why I’m here.”
If the nominations for Teacher of the Year are any indication, Wyatt’s philosophy is hitting home. Students said:
- “[She] makes every class interesting. She engages the class through a variety of teaching methods and activities. She empowers us to seek learning opportunities in all we do. She has taught me that nursing is beyond just taking care of someone’s medical needs. She has taught us how to care for patients’ emotional, psychological, and spiritual needs. She has shown us how Christian service is interwoven into the nursing profession.”
- “[She] goes above and beyond to help connect class and real life. Not only is she an amazing teacher, she actually cares about your future.… She engages with her students outside of class and still has connections with past students because of the impact she has made on them. I just love her so much.”
Learn more about ACU’s School of Nursing.