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Innovation in the Field

Meet the Teacher: Jean DeSaix, Biology

Jean DeSaix left her hometown of Williamston, N.C., years ago. But it never left her. DeSaix, a UNC biology master lecturer, understands those university students from small towns and rural areas. Many students are overwhelmed by what seems at first to be an enormous campus.

DeSaix has always been an advocate for these students. “People born in rural counties are just as smart as those born in Greensboro,” she quipped. “But some arrive at UNC not as confident or not aware of how smart they are.” She sees a dual role with her students: helping those who are already on the fast track but also focusing on the diamonds in the rough. “Those students are special to me,” she said.

A Mentor and a Scholar
DeSaix arrived in Chapel Hill in 1967 for graduate school. One of two female students in the zoology program, she was occasionally asked to serve cookies and punch during special events. Nonplussed, she earned a master’s in zoology and a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from UNC.

DeSaix has taught about 800 students in each of her nearly 40 years at Carolina. But she also chose a role that extends her reach beyond the biology lecture hall. DeSaix also serves as director of the Health Professions Advising Office, faculty adviser for UNC’s Habitat for Humanity program, and, along with her husband Peter, adviser to the Episcopal Campus Ministry.

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