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Students choose their teacher of the year

By Alyssa DeLio
CCC Journalism Program

Professor Jaime Vona of the Psychology Department received the Teaching Excellence Award of the Year against all three of the county’s competing science departments. She received 140 nominations by Camden County College’s students. Usually teachers get nominated by staff, not students. This was one of the first times students nominated a teacher.

Vona prides herself as being “Phila born and raised.” She lived in the same house in Philadelphia until she got married at age 26 to her longtime friend Ryan Vona.

“More than 90 percent of the people on our block were also born and raised there and still reside there today. When I got married to Ryan on Nov. 27, 2004, we moved into a home five minutes away from both of our parents,” laughed Vona. “We attended the same nursery, pre-k, kindergarten, grade school and high school.”

However, although Vona and her husband have known each other since infancy, they did not start dating until her senior year of college. Now, they have two daughters, Gianna, age 8, and Ava, age 3. Her husband is a union iron worker and, as Vona describes, is “an awesome husband and father. He has been so good to me.”

Vona was accepted into the Philadelphia College of Textile and Science with a partial academic scholarship. She started in its Physician Assistance Program, and two years later found she was passionate about psychology and changed her major.

“I first took a psych class as part of my core requirements, but then quickly fell in love with it,” she said.

Because she had so many science classes under her belt, she was able to switch over without putting herself behind too much. Vona graduated in December 2000 with a bachelor of science degree in psychology and human behavior and a minor in science.

Vona went on to be a full-time graduate student in 2004 and graduated with a master of science degree in counseling psychology and human behavior, while also completing a specialization in marriage and family therapy.

“I loved school and took it very seriously. I graduated with honors in both schools, but with my master’s program I managed to pull off highest honors (summa cum laude),” she said.

Vona plans to go back to complete the little bit of schooling she has left to get her doctorate.

Vona said she finds she is most interested in the forensic and criminal profiling branch of psychology, because she is fascinated in “why people do the things they do.”

She usually teaches three classes each semester: Abnormal Psychology, Child Development and Introduction to Psychology. She works part-time at Camden County College along with her job as a family counselor.

“My students are my driving force to do what I do. I love helping others and making an influence, I want to give you as many tools as I can so you can succeed,” said Vona. “New things come out every day, let alone every year, and if I ever don’t know something, we’ll learn it together. I never brush anything off. I’m very open to learning new things with my class.”

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