By Ryan Girves
LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 18, 2023) — Weiss Mehrabi, a doctoral candidate and teaching assistant in the College of Arts & Sciences, is one of 10 winners to receive the University of Kentucky’s 2022-23 Outstanding Teaching Awards.
These awards identify and recognize individuals who demonstrate special dedication to student achievement and who are successful in their teaching. Recipients were selected via nomination and reviewed by a selection committee based in the UK Provost’s Office for Faculty Advancement and the Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching.
"I’m incredibly surprised, humbled and immensely grateful for this prestigious recognition," Weiss said. "Becoming an educator and scholar has always been my aspiration. Teaching forms the core of my professional identity because I firmly believe in the transformative power of education. My own life story serves as a testament to this belief. I grew up in a remote village in war-torn Afghanistan, where schools were nonexistent most of the time. Through education, I managed to overcome the physical and psychological scars of war and emerge as a successful educator and scholar. Moreover, I witnessed firsthand how the absence of educational opportunities contributed to the disintegration of the social, political and economic fabric of my home country.
"These experiences have reinforced my determination, resilience and unwavering belief in the provision of quality education and learning opportunities for all individuals, irrespective of their ethnic, racial, sexual, gender, class, religious, or other social identities, as well as their place of origin. I’m committed to creating a safe, inclusive and equitable environment for education."
Mehrabi is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate specializing in international relations and policy. He serves as the primary instructor of political science courses in international relations, comparative politics, American government, Model United Nations and research methods.
His research is focused on international security, especially international military coalitions. His dissertation, “Coalition of the Ending: Why States Withdraw from Military Coalitions,” explored the causes and conditions under which states withdraw their support for an ongoing military coalition operation resulting in prematurely abandoning their partners. Additional research interests include post-conflict state and nation-building, state formation and secessionist movements, politics of international recognition, and the impact of international migration and cross-border ties on political behavior and attitudes.
"Working with UK students has been an incredibly fulfilling experience, providing me with invaluable knowledge and expertise and most importantly I learned a lot from my students," he said. "It is one thing to find fulfillment and purpose in the work itself, but it is a different level of satisfaction to know that your colleagues, superiors, and, most importantly, students value and appreciate your contributions. I’m deeply touched that the people in this institution, who have already given me so much, hold me in such high regard and appreciate the work that I do. It means the world to me,"
This year’s Outstanding Teaching Awards were given to four faculty, three lecturers and three graduate teaching assistants. Each winner received an award certificate, a commemorative engraved gift, and a cash award in recognition of their teaching excellence.
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In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.