Tiffany Hoage and dozens of other new instructors began their University of Wisconsin-Stout teaching careers when classes began the first week of September.
It’s a pretty safe bet that, among the new crop of faculty and academic staff members in the three colleges, no one felt more at home than Hoage.
Hoage graduated from UW-Stout in 2006 with an applied science degree and a minor in math. Many of her former instructors are now her colleagues, and she’s running some of the same classrooms and labs in which she used to sit.
Her career as an undergraduate wasn’t her first experience, however, at UW-Stout. Nine years earlier as a middle-schooler in 1997, the Colfax native spent a week at UW-Stout in the first STEPS for Girls summer program.
That week, she fell in love with science. Each girl made a remote-controlled model airplane and flew it at the end of the week, learning the physics of flight among many other introductory science skills.
“It was an amazing experience. I had an opportunity to explore STEM careers, and the people who taught us were so enthusiastic,” Hoage said. “It greatly influenced my decision to attend UW-Stout.”
When she reached Colfax High School a few years later, she already was headed for a career in science, taking classes in computer aided design and advanced courses in biology, math and chemistry.
The STEPS for Girls experience helped inspire her to consider teaching and pursue science education outreach. Even as a senior at Colfax, she was an assistant math instructor for fifth grade. “My passion is to help people,” Hoage said.
Hoage is believed to be the first STEPS for Girls participant to return to UW-Stout to teach. More than 3,000 girls have participated since that first year when Hoage attended. STEPS completed its 21st year this summer.
“Having Dr. Hoage back on campus is indeed evidence of the success of STEPS in helping sixth-grade girls pursue a future in the STEM fields,” said Chuck Bomar, dean of UW-Stout’s College of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Management. “I hope she is the first of many STEPS graduates to come back to UW-Stout and share their passions for the various STEM fields.”
UW-Stout education and beyond
As a UW-Stout student, Hoage tutored fellow undergraduates for 3½ years in math and science and was a teaching assistant in biology and chemistry. She also led lab tours on campus for Girl Scouts and high school students.
During her Preservice Teaching Internship at Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago, she developed a science curriculum based on her research experience there.
She then earned a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences from Mayo Clinic Graduate School in Rochester, Minn., and taught at Winona (Minn.) State University.
At UW-Stout, Hoage is beginning her career by teaching three sections of Human Biology this fall. Her goals include restarting the zebrafish research lab, which she helped establish as an undergraduate. “Zebrafish is an amazing model for science education outreach and for students to research with,” she said.
“UW-Stout has a very family-like culture. I’m here for the students to empower them to pursue STEM careers and appreciate science,” said Hoage, who also completed a graduate certificate program in instructional design at UW-Stout.
She would like to develop an outreach program with area schools similar to the Integrated Science Education Outreach program. “When I was an InSciEd Out volunteer during graduate school, I enjoyed providing teachers with hands-on opportunities to strengthen their scientific research skills and getting elementary kids excited about science,” she said.
Hoage is enjoying being back at UW-Stout and working with her former professors in the STEMM College. “I very much respected them and still do,” she said.
Bomar taught Hoage as a freshman. “Even as a first-year student, I remember her intensity and focus in the classroom. It was pretty clear there were no projects too big or too complicated for her to succeed,” he said.
In the summers Hoage hopes to get involved with STEPS for Girls, where her career path began 20 years ago.
To learn more about STEPS for Girls, go to the STEPS website. The program’s major sponsors are UW-Stout, 3M, Hampton Family Trust, Xcel and Polaris; learn more on the STEPS Sponsors page.
Top and bottom: Tiffany Hoage, a new biology instructor at UW-Stout, works with students during the first day of fall semester classes, Sept. 6.
Middle: Chuck Bomar