African American Studies

University of Mississippi

Ethel Young-Minor, Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher

April 11, 2012 | By Dane Moreton, The Daily Mississippian

Ethel Young-Minor, associate professor of English and African American studies

Ethel Young-Minor, associate professor of English and African American studies | Photo by Alex Edwards/The Daily Mississippian

Ethel Young-Minor, associate professor of English and African American Studies at the University of Mississippi, was the recipient of the Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher Award, the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a current faculty member.

DM: How did it feel to be named the teacher of the year?
Ethel Young-Minor: Being named the Elsie Hood Teacher of the Year for 2011 was an incredible honor. There are a lot of amazing professors at UM who change students’ lives and make their marks in diverse disciplines. I can’t imagine how the committee can choose to honor one. I am thankful that my students thought enough of me to write letters over the years and more thankful that the committee saw something meaningful and valuable about the work I carry out in the classroom.

DM: What did/does it mean to you?
EYM: As a professor, it was especially nice to feel that my work is honored and respected by my peers. I am still surprised by how much it means to other people. It will always have positive meaning in my life. It is the one award on campus that seems impossible to earn, so I am humbled to be included in the list of prestigious recipients who preceded me.

DM: Are there any perks to receiving the award?
EYM: Yes, I received a monetary award from the university and my name was placed on a plaque in the UM library. I am thankful that my children and grandchildren will be able to walk past that plaque and remember that my life had meaning to people who came through UM.

DM: Why did you begin teaching?
EYM: Teaching is one of the most amazing ways to stay in contact with younger generations. I am passionate about literature and love having the opportunity to help other people see how literature can enhance their lives. I also love teaching writing because it empowers students. They gain skills that can help them advance in many skills when they sharpen their ability to articulate ideas, communicate with diverse audiences and sustain logical arguments.

DM: Will you be speaking during convocation? If so, what is the basic idea you would like to impress upon your audience?
EYM: I am speaking at convocation and would like to remind students that they are gifted with certain skill sets so that they can enhance the lives of other people. I hope to remind them of the importance of servant leadership, community action and continued personal growth.