By Mallory Dunkley
Instructorship in today’s ever-changing social climate is exhilarating. Educators now find themselves faced with flourishing asynchronous classrooms as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite unforeseen adversities, there are increased opportunities to reach a diverse base of learners on a global scale. For Gregory Becoat, a member of the online associate faculty at University of Phoenix (UOPX), this is familiar terrain. His career in academia spans two decades and encompasses a soulful blend of professional enrichment and a drive for student achievement.
Although Becoat currently teaches general biology and environmental science courses at UOPX, his academic journey began in Hempstead, Long Island, where he quickly became attracted to the arts and sciences as a child. He went on to attend some of the most esteemed institutions of higher learning, including Howard University and the University of Maryland, College Park, where he earned undergraduate and graduate degrees. In 2008, he earned his Master of Public Health from The George Washington University.
In addition to a strong work ethic, Becoat believes in working to benefit the greater community. He has enjoyed a successful career in gospel music and performed with renowned gospel artists. Becoat’s musical talents garnered him featured guest status on the "Bobby Jones Gospel Show," a broadcast dedicated to spotlighting the gifts of emerging gospel vocalists. "I have a raspy tenor, enabling me to make a rich impression on my audience," Becoat says. He is also an active member of the praise and worship team at the Effectual Praise and Worship Center in New Jersey.
While the arts inform his musical endeavors, the sciences inspire his career. Long-standing ecological issues, in fact, form the framework of Becoat’s intellectual pursuits. Not only does Becoat provide exemplary online instruction, but he also conducts research studies at the Environmental Protection Agency, in the heart of Washington, D.C.
"I am deeply involved in exploring the impacts of emissions on quality of life," Becoat explains. "I enjoy discovering new methods for reducing my carbon footprint."
Within his classes, Becoat alludes to real-life situations to draw students into more robust, relatable discussions. He recently touched upon the Clean Water Act, for example, and its impact on the Flint, Michigan, water crisis.
His curriculum also features comprehensive analyses of air pollution in Birmingham, Alabama, circa the 1960s. "As an African American male, I like to look at survey statistics whilst connecting issues impacting my community," he says. "There are no trick questions, just opportunities to engage." Becoat also delves into worldwide environmental challenges, often querying students on their thoughts and perceptions. His discussions are often active, prompting learners to think outside of social norms.
In collegiate-level courses, educators ruminate on the importance of "grit" with their students as it inspires perseverance through life’s many obstacles. The coronavirus pandemic relates to this as it has forced people to discover the strongest parts of themselves. Social isolation has brought forth a deeper sense of universal consciousness, too, as evidenced by Becoat, who displays attentiveness to his students' needs.
He begins early mornings with check-ins to address questions and concerns in class. "When I sign a contract to teach a course, I will fully apply and commit myself," he states.
His personable approach to teaching reflects a genuine passion for success. Becoat remains apprised of his students’ progress long after class ends, often providing written recommendations for employment and scholarly opportunities. He says he makes expectations clear at the onset of each course and rarely encounters any tone or disrespect issues.
He describes his pedagogical practices as "well balanced," applying an empathetic approach to instruction intermingled with self-directed learning. "In assigned group work, I will not monitor too heavily. I want learners to rationalize and solve problems before seeking my intervention," he explains. When learners encounter stumbling blocks in their studies, Becoat provides individualized conferences, focusing on working through issues based upon each student's unique circumstances.
Becoat resides in New Jersey with his wife, Xiomara, and their three daughters. He says he maintains a healthy work-life balance, cherishing quiet moments to pray and reflect with his family. Becoat draws inspiration from Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, a nonfiction bestseller that teaches the art of cultivating success in the most unanticipated places.
He cannot envision any other calling; his profession and vibrant skill set are in solid alignment. "If you love what you do, it makes life easier," he states with conviction. Becoat is transforming student lives, one soul at a time.
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