facebook twitter Linkedin Email

Reena nets Phi Kappa Phi Love of Learning Award

Ismatara Reena, an adjunct instructor in biology at Lamar University, has been selected to receive the Phi Kappa Phi “Love of Learning Award.”

Ismatara ReeneShe will use the award to help finance a trip to present her dissertation at the Hawaii International Conference on Education in January 2019. Her proposed presentation, “Impact of STEM-specific Programs on Academic Achievement, STEM Retention, and Graduation Rate on Underrepresented ‘At Risk’ Students in STEM Majors: An Correlational Study” reflects the complete work of her dissertation.

“I am honored to represent Lamar University’s College of Education and Human Development and Phi Kappa Phi at this international conference” she said. “I hope my research presentation will … further establish LU’s and PKP’s graduate students as skillful researchers and scholars.”

“We are so proud for Ismatara as her grant is the first ‘Love of Learning Award’ for our chapter at Lamar University and only the second grant next to a recent Study Abroad awarded,” said Teresa Simpson, who is president of LU’s chapter that was founded in 1965. Simpson is special assistant to the dean of the College of Education and Human Development in the areas of student recruitment, retention and success, and is also a clinical instructor of educational leadership.

Simpson said “as a chapter, we are working diligently to provide awareness, development for the various opportunities for our members that include students, faculty and staff of Lamar University as they advance in the ‘Love of Learning’ as to advance our students, professionals and scholar Cardinals.”

Reena serves as the graduate student representative for the LU Phi Kappa Phi chapter and teaches lab courses in general biology and anatomy and physiology, as well as numerous courses in health and kinesiology. She holds a medical degree from Rajshahi Medical College in Bangladesh, as well as master’s degrees in family and consumer science and health promotion, both from Lamar University. She is nearing completion of a doctoral degree in educational leadership from LU as well.

Her academic and professional goals stem from her lifelong desire to become an educator and bring change into the lives of others, she said.

“As I grew up in a developing country where education was not a privilege or a right for women, my dream was change people’s lives through education, particularly who are underprivileged,” she said.

“’There’s nothing more important than education’ was my parents’ most used sentence in my childhood,” she said.

“As an educator, my father overcame all the barriers and sent us to school,” she said. “I am always thankful to my parents for giving me the opportunity to be the first-generation (in our family) to go to college.”

She came to the US in 2000 and began to pursue her passion of becoming an educator in 2006, nearly a decade after completing her medical degree in Bangladesh, because she was inspired to help address limited opportunities underprivileged groups faced. 

When she has completes her Ed.D., she plans to pursue a career as an educator and researcher in higher education to “bring change in my students’ lives especially those who are underserved and underprivileged.”

In particular, she hopes to address the continuing underrepresented of minorities and women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields by evaluating programs that can increase academic achievement, STEM retention and university retention for at-risk students.

Phi Kappa Phi is the nation’s oldest and most selective multidisciplinary honor society that initiates more than 30,000 members a year on 300 campuses in the United States and the Philippines. More than 1.5 million members have joined the society since it was founded in 1897.