Picture of Fernando Tenjo looking through a microscope (Loan Nguyen, VCU’s Office of Institutional Equity, Effectiveness and Success)

Fernand Tenjo joined VCU in 2003 and is approaching his 20th year here at VCU Biology. He has held various positions since arriving: associate professor of biology, associate chair for the Department of Biology, co-chair of the Men of Color Initiative, and many more. The foundation for student success according to Fernando is the engagement of his students within the classroom.

He has seen students engaged first-hand while teaching beer-making through his “Yeast and Fermentation” class. Students at first struggle with presenting a proposal of what beer they wish to make since they are not confident in their knowledge or skills. Over time students grow in their confidence through experiential learning. “It is impressive,” Tenjo-Fernandez said about the growth he observes in students throughout the semester. “At some point, students can express by themselves what they’ve learned. I can see the enthusiasm that they have when they learn it. They can explain [their work] very well. They can answer questions. That’s when I know that I have made an impact when students are able to clearly communicate what they learned.”

Fernando believes one of the key principles in teaching is keeping it as simple as possible. Students must learn the basics before they move on to more complicated concepts. He’s also learned to be receptive to students’ needs, which informs his work with the Men of Color Initiative. The initiative is dedicated to the enrollment, student success and post-graduation outcomes for Black males and Latinos.

To learn more about Fernando’s journey and his work with MOC Initiative, please read the full story “Fostering student success motivates biology professor Fernando Tenjo-Fernandez as he approaches his 20th year at VCU” by Loan Nguyen.

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