An extraordinary teacher, Cresa Pugh is committed to teaching with innovation and excellence. Cresa’s skills as an instructor were first put to the test in her third graduate year when she was given her first teaching assignment—a course called “Refugees in Global Perspective”—a difficult class to teach due to the sensitive and violent nature of its content. Moreover, the enrollment often comprises international, first-generation students who have had personal experiences as refugees. It did not get any less daunting for Cresa when 44 students enrolled in the course, but not only did she accept the challenge, she also taught two mammoth sections of the course with 22 students each. “Yet despite the over-large classes, the difficult topics, the ‘hot moments’ she encountered, and the difficulties often faced by members of minoritized racial groups, Cresa always earns a 4.8 or higher on her teaching evaluations,” says Jocelyn S. Viterna, professor of sociology and director of undergraduate studies in sociology.

It is one of Cresa’s teaching priorities to make sure all her students feel comfortable participating in class. “She is a natural-born communicator who knows how to mobilize her intelligence and charisma to give students memorable experiences that stay with them for life,” says Dr. Danilo Mandic. Cresa has always found a way to decrease stress and motivate students to engage in discussions. One of her students says, “She made the class environment so relaxed and low-stress. As a shy person, even I felt comfortable speaking up, especially toward the end of the semester.” Cresa’s caring nature never goes unnoticed by her students and the faculty she’s worked with.

As Professor Viterna puts it, “Cresa has a true talent for converting a section into a community.” Cresa is credited as having a remarkable ability to skillfully teach challenging course topics while simultaneously encouraging inventiveness and fun in the classroom. One student wrote, “Cresa was an incredibly fun section leader, making sure that we covered the concepts but also finding creative ways to keep things light even when we were going over some dense material.”

Cresa’s teaching style has had an unparalleled effect on her students, as she diligently prepared each for academic success. She’s a talented educator who is dedicated to her craft. The Department of Sociology “cannot imagine a worthier candidate” for this award, Professor Viterna writes.

Cresa, The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences is pleased to present you with the Derek C. Bok Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching of Undergraduates. Congratulations!

Read more about the 2020 Bok Awards

Cresa Pugh: 2020 Derek C. Bok Award Citation