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News: Tooktook Thongthiraj Receives Risser Award For Outstanding Teaching


Pasadena City College has awarded Tooktook Thongthiraj with the 35th Annual Risser Award for her exceptional work as an associate professor in the English Division.

“When Dr. Rocha read out my name as the winner of the Risser Award, I was stunned and overwhelmed,” Thongthiraj said. “I had to hold back my tears because PCC has so many fine faculty members who make a difference in thousands of students' lives. To be recognized by my colleagues, at the college where my parents and sisters began their higher education, is a dream come true.”

The award is presented each year to honor top college faculty at the college. Students and staff nominate candidates for the Risser Awards. It is given for quality of instruction, inspiration to students, fair and understandable evaluation, and grading.

“Tooktook” or Dr. T, as she is affectionately know as, connects with her classes by using pop culture in English to help students read, think, and write critically.

One student writes, “For the first time I have actually gone to a professor’s office and discussed the material which was presented during class time out of my very own free will. I was never forced to visit her on any occasion, I was just simply fascinated by the material which we were covering in class.”

The environment she creates encourages her students to express ideas and engage in discussion.

In 2011, Thongthiraj was the recipient of the Board of Trustees/Academic Senate Faculty Distinguished Lecturer Award for Outstanding Service to Student and Excellence in Creative and Innovative Teaching. 

“When a student shares a new insight into the material, I marvel at how I never get bored teaching the same text because students always come up with new interpretations,” Thongthiraj said. “In my classes, I set high expectations for my students. I also have to make my classes fun if I want my students to stay motivated and engaged. ”

The Risser Award, named after former social sciences instructor and trustee of the college Ray Risser, is PCC’s highest honor and is given annually to a faculty member and a non-teaching staff member in recognition of their outstanding efforts on behalf of students. 

For more information about the Risser Award, Contact the PCC Foundation at (626) 585-7065.

Release Date: 06/21/2012
Contact: Juan F. Gutierrez , Director, Public Relations
Phone: (626) 585-7315