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Special Spotlight Insert

Giesler gives back

By Samantha Beres

Eighteen years ago Maryjane Giesler started teaching a late afternoon class at UNM-Los Alamos. She squeezed it into an incredibly hectic schedule. At the time her four children, three of whom are triplets, were in junior high and all were involved in sports.

“I would run from a JV (Junior Varsity) basketball game to the swimming pool to watch my son for his four second race. Then I would run back to the basketball game,” Giesler says. “One time we went to two track meets and two baseball games in one day.”

When she describes her children Giesler exudes her usual high energy, probably the same energy that helped her get through an English master's program at Michigan State in nine months.

“I told them I had enough money for nine months and you could do that back then,” she says. “I was up all night, and reading like a Shakespeare play a night.”

Even though she doesn’t pull all-nighters anymore, or run from sports event to another, Giesler still maintains a crazy schedule. As her four athletes grew up and went on to have successful careers, she took on more and more at UNM-LA.

“When my kids graduated from high school I felt like I should pay my dues, so I taught late night classes. Other people had done it when I was busy with the kids,” says Giesler.

It was gradual, but she went from one class to two, then became core faculty and took on three classes. Now, she not only teaches a full load but is also curriculum coordinator for the Communications Department and advisor to the Beta Zeta Chi chapter of the international honor society, Phi Theta Kappa (PTK).

This year, her fourth as PTK’s advisor, she received the Distinguished Advisor award and the Paragon award for outstanding advisors at the International Convention. She also received the Horizon award for new advisors in 2000.

As Phi Theta Kappa advisor she established an honor’s study class.

“She took the lead in making sure the class would be available to UNM-LA students for honor’s credit at main campus,” says Heather Nordquist, vice president of Phi Theta Kappa. “Our group has improved tremendously over the past couple of years under her tutelage. Maryjane’s enthusiasm is contagious.”

Her enthusiasm clearly inspires students. Last year, one of Giesler’s former students emailed to say she was finishing her Ph.D.

“She wanted to say thank you because she had failed English 101 and then she took it with me. She said if she had failed it again she may have just said to heck with it,” Giesler says. “We don’t educate thousands of students here, but we see great results.”