The daughter and granddaughter of teachers, Diya Abdo knew her calling from an early age.
She would teach. What’s more, she knew how she would teach.
At 13, when she visited a college classroom with a cousin in Jordan, she didn’t like the way the room was set up. The professor literally spoke down to students from an elevated podium. Desks were bolted to the floor in precise rank and file.
“I knew there was something really, really wrong with that picture,” says Diya. “I thought, I want to do this differently. And that was that.”
The associate professor of English does do it differently. She and her students sit in a circle, and she listens more than she lectures. She’s not afraid to engage her students in and out of class.
Her approach works. She has received the 2010 Dick Dyer Award for Advising, a 2012 Stewart Award for Teaching and the 2013 Board of Visitors Award for Advising.
“I always knew the kind of teacher I wanted to be: friendly, accessible, more of a facilitator than a lecturer,” she says.
That style is embraced at Guilford.
After completing graduate school, Diya taught at several institutions in Jordan, but they weren’t the right fit. When she saw the advertisement for a job at Guilford and investigated the College’s website, something clicked, just like it did when she was 13 years old.
“I found a job description,” she recalls, “and the job description was just Diya. I knew this was the place for me.”
Diya’s dedication has benefited countless students since she joined the Guilford faculty in 2008. One of those students is Paula Wilder, who was a senior during Diya’s first year at the College.
Although Diya wasn’t Paula’s primary adviser, the two stayed in touch after Paula graduated. Paula, who has completed coursework for a master’s, began teaching at a local community college. She mentioned to Diya that she wasn’t receiving feedback about her teaching.
“Diya immediately volunteered and scheduled a day to observe me for two hours during a time that she would normally be at home with her family,” Paula says.
“The willingness she has to do this doesn’t surprise me, because this demonstrates her commitment to always go above and beyond for both her present and former students.”