Dr. Stephanie Luster-Teasley is the magic that happens when passion and purpose collide. The UNC Board of Governors recently recognized Luster-Teasley for her outstanding dedication and service to teaching with the prestigious “2013 Excellence in Teaching Award.”

The associate professor in the department of civil, architectural and environmental engineering and the department of chemical, biological and bioengineering has spent nine years at North Carolina A&T State University engaging students and molding what she calls, “diamonds in the ruff” for success.

Through her undergraduate mentoring program, “Engage to be Engineers,” Luster-Teasley provides students with the tools and resources that will give them the competitive edge they need to be successful. The program is a community of support that assists students from a variety of backgrounds including first generation students and students with children.

It is Luster-Teasley’s relatable nature that sets her apart as a professor and allows her to assess the core needs of her students. She is an alumna of N.C.  A&T and teaches in the same labs she once studied in at the university. She remembers the difficulties of being a graduate student while raising her children.

With a comprehensive summer and academic school year program for middle school girls, Luster-Teasley is channeling her energy into inspiring girls to excel in the male dominated STEM field.

“A lot of times middle school is when the boys start telling girls that it is not cool to be good at math or science,” she says.

 Her goal is to erase those assumptions and self-esteem related barriers and provide role-models who prove that girls can be engineers.

Among her students and mentees, Luster-Teasley promotes a positive work-life balance. “I can have the family and I can have the career,” she says as she explains her family’s contributions to her career. “This award is as much my family’s award in celebration of what we do as a family.”  Luster-Teasley plans to reward her husband and sons with a vacation for the first time since she’s been at A&T.    

An African American woman, Luster-Teasley, represents two critical minorities in her profession. According to statistics, she has managed a career of beating odds and exceeding expectations.

 “I think what I’ve done shows that if you genuinely care about the kids you can get them to excel,” she said.

Luster-Teasley will continue to uplift and inspire her students because she can admit that at one time like most of them, “she was a diamond in the ruff.”