Tamara Randall (CWR ’96; GRS ’00, public health nutrition) is often described as someone who “makes a lot of friends on airplanes.” That natural approachability and welcoming personality extends to the classroom, where she is known for creating meaningful relationships with her students.
Students who nominated Randall for the 2022 Jackson Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Mentoring described her approach to teaching and mentoring as one built on trust, honesty and transparency. And it’s for this approach as an instructor of nutrition that Randall will be recognized with the Jackson Award at commencement ceremonies Sunday, May 15.
In the words of one of Randall’s student nominators: “Her philosophy of being honest and ‘keeping it real’ is one that I believe all undergraduate mentors should have, and her mentees trust and depend on her to help guide them through difficult decisions in their lives.”
Because of her honesty, students seek out her counsel to help determine if their post-graduation goals are realistic and attainable, including if they should begin the competitive and stressful process of applying to medical school or if they need to consider other options. Randall provides crucial guidance to students as they begin the application process—administering practice interviews, reading and critiquing lengthy applications, and sharing her knowledge about the process.
As an advocate for her students, she encourages them to push themselves to take more challenging coursework when they are ready.
“She suggested I take graduate-level courses and reached out to the professors on my behalf to tell them that I was academically strong enough to handle graduate coursework—going beyond in that situation to make sure I got out of my education what I was looking for, which I greatly appreciate,” said one student who nominated Randall.
When asked about being recognized as an outstanding mentor, Randall, who also is director of the university’s Master of Science in Public Health Nutrition Dietetic Internship, responded: “It’s humbling to know that I am able to connect with students in a way that is meaningful to them and sparks their desire to learn more about the material we are discussing. My favorite part of my job is hearing updates from former students about their career accomplishments and knowing that I may have, in some small way, have helped them get there.”
About the award
The Jackson Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Mentoring recognizes the positive impact Case Western Reserve University faculty and staff have on the lives of students. It was established by J. Bruce Jackson (ADL ’52), in honor of Dean Carl F. Wittke, who served as an advisor, mentor, and friend to Jackson when he was an undergraduate student at Western Reserve University.
The Jackson Award celebrates faculty and staff who have guided a student in their academic and career paths; fostered the student’s long-term personal development; challenged the student to reflect, explore and grow as an individual; and supported and/or facilitated the student’s goals and life choices.