Notre Dame Mathematics Doctoral Student, Patrick Heslin, Wins 2021 MAGS Excellence in Teaching Award

Author: Amanda Nowak

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Patrick Heslin, a 5th-year Ph.D. student in the University of Notre Dame’s Department of Mathematics, has won the 2021 MAGS Excellence in Teaching Award.  The Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools (MAGS) selects one doctoral and one master’s student each year from a distinguished and competitive field of students nominated by graduate deans from more than 175 universities in a 14-state region of the United States.  Winners are selected based on their commitment to and successes in effective pedagogy. 

Heslin embodies the MAGS mission as he has taught in both Ireland and the United States, spanning eleven semesters. He emphasizes the importance of building trust in the classroom and uses his passion and enthusiasm to gain engagement and motivation from his students.  Heslin strives to make mathematics both accessible and relevant to the lives of all students regardless of their college major or disciplinary background.  “Meaningful engagement” is what Heslin describes as central to his approach in teaching.  Heslin is grateful for the students he has worked with; he remarked, “a huge part of any success I have had here is down to the students. Their willingness to engage and try their best every day makes my job easy. I have taught around 400 students at ND and I can honestly say it's been an absolute pleasure.” He also mentioned the mentors he has had while at Notre Dame; “a very special thank you has to go to my good friend and mentor, Prof. Annette Pilkington, who has helped so many graduate students like me. We’re very lucky to have her!”

As part of the MAGs application process, Heslin worked extensively with the Graduate School’s Office of Grants and Fellowships, meeting regularly with current consultants to develop and polish his application materials.  The office’s program director, Samantha Lee, was “impressed by his passion and genuine enthusiasm to teach others math.”  In addition, Heslin was supported by Notre Dame’s Kaneb Center for Teaching and Learning where he gained additional experience in communicating the importance of his work and his pedagogical philosophy for award reviewers. 

Heslin was presented with his MAGS Excellence in Teaching Award at MAGS 77th Annual Meeting on Wednesday, March 24th, 2021.