Nicole Reyes

Dr. Nicole Alia Salis Reyes, an associate professor in the College of Education (COE) Department of Educational Administration (EDEA), was awarded a Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Teaching. Each year, the Board of Regents conducts a selection process for faculty members who exhibit an extraordinary level of subject mastery and scholarship, teaching effectiveness and creativity, and personal values that benefit students.

“The Department of Educational Administration is extremely proud of Dr. Salis Reyes, and we are so pleased to have her teaching recognized by others,” said EDEA Chair Chris Lucas. “Her graduate students consistently state that they learn the course materials and achieve the objectives through her impactful and balanced approach of challenge and support. She has received such student recognition of her high-quality teaching nearly every semester for the past eight years.”

Salis Reyes, who has been with the COE since 2016, also serves as the COE Senate Chair and is a scholarship coordinator for the Tinalak Filipino Education Advisory Council. After being nominated, she received letters of support from students and colleagues for the Regents’ award, which underwent a college-level review process followed by a university-wide review.

“To be recognized for teaching through the recommendations of my students is the highest honor,” said Salis Reyes. “I believe that the greatest impacts of my life’s work will be through my students. They are doing the hands-on work of transforming our institutions of higher education to better serve our communities here in Hawaiʻi and beyond for current and future generations.”

As part of her teaching philosophy, Salis Reyes says she adheres to four goals: to prepare her students to examine educational discourses and structures critically; think critically about their own experiences and perspectives in relationship to what they are learning; think about how they can apply the knowledge and experiences that they have gained through their coursework; and organize their ideas and communicate them clearly in different forms.

“I take it as one of my most important kuleana to support and to encourage them as they hone knowledge and skills, which they can apply in doing this work,” said Salis Reyes. “Receiving this recognition helps me to know that I am on the right path in meeting this kuleana. I am humbled to play a small role in my students’ educational journeys.”

As a 1.5-generation college student, Salis Reyes found support through various communities on her campus. This sense of belonging amid new and challenging times led her to begin a career in higher education and student affairs to encourage students, especially those from marginalized backgrounds, to see their assets and know that they belonged in college.

“After several years working one-on-one with undergraduate students as a health professions advisor, I began to consider pursuing a faculty career,” said Salis Reyes. “Ultimately, I chose to become a professor because I wanted to help develop knowledge through engaging in research in our field, particularly as it pertains to issues of Indigeneity and social justice, and I looked forward to working closely with graduate students, through teaching and advising.”


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