Faculty Spotlight: Tamara Biegas

In Tamara Biegas’ classroom, every student is seen “at their own personal latitude and longitude.” It’s not difficult to imagine the innovative, inspiring environment Tamara offers in her geography courses. Her classic catchphrase emphasizes this very fact: “you’re nowhere without geography.”

Tamara also believes in seeing eye-to-eye with her students through her philosophy “you’re just like them [...] [I] try to give [my] experiences to help break the ice or to show they’re not alone.” She often shares with her students that it took her nine years to get her bachelor’s degree, driving home the point that when things get frustrating or life gets in the way, education will still be there. She tells her students “determination and perseverance are key.” Tamara’s encouragement for education extends to ongoing support of public school educators through trainings, demonstrations, and certifying access to funding of instructional grants. She herself was able to get back on track and recently received her doctorate degree in Geographic Information Science (GIS) after completing her dissertation, Adolescent Overweight and Obesity: A Geographic Inquiry.

Tamara has been developing a new GIS program that is currently under review for approval for fall 2020. The program would earn students an Associate’s degree or certification upon completion, not to mention the understanding of a tool utilized by the local government, Aberdeen Proving Ground, and even the federal government and private business firms in order to move students towards success.

On top of the development of this program, Tamara has worked diligently to modify geography courses to include the latest technology and hands-on learning in order to enrich her classroom. Her greatest educational tool is the very campus she teaches on. She uses the local trails, the surrounding trees and the weather, allowing students to question how these components can relate to their everyday life and to the course. But she also brings personal photographs from her past world travels, encouraging students to “think outside the county, outside the box.”

Overall, she is a supportive teacher and colleague both on campus and in the community, helping with a student’s point-pattern analysis research involving the Bel Air Police Department and multiple students’ presentations at the spring 2018 Hays-Heighe House “Cultures and Diseases Epidemics and the Human Experience” event. The student-lead presentations on campus and within the state advanced the caliber of the upcoming geography program, along with collaborative partnerships fostering a greater appreciation for geography applications beyond the classroom. She, along with two other faculty members for the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission competition, provided guidance and direction leading HCC’s student team to a first-place finish. Regardless of her busy schedule, she has put the community, the College and her students as a top priority, making her a great pick for this month’s faculty spotlight.

For Tamara, HCC has been her “latitude and longitude” for five successful years. She’s just getting started!