By Jessica Tanner
“I was really surprised to be honest,” says associate teaching professor Dr. Sabrina Jarvis after receiving this year’s DAISY Award Faculty Award. She was nominated by a student to whom she had shown kindness and care. Living by life philosophies taught to her by her father has opened doors to connecting with others and blessed many lives.
Dr. Jarvis worked as a family nurse practitioner in Veterans Administration Hospitals. It was in her clinical practice she not only found fulfillment in nursing but was also introduced to teaching. However, she reports, “It was quite the learning process,” as she was shy and unfamiliar with giving presentations. Thankfully, she had a mentor, one who could teach her about presentations tap on a projector if she was going overtime. “As you go along, you learn,” Dr. Jarvis says. “I don’t think you spring up being a full-blown teacher; you have to learn the craft.”
Those early experiences prepared Dr. Jarvis to teach at BYU, as she has for the past twelve years. For her the craft of teaching is not just in planning lessons or grading projects; it is about the relationships she builds with her students. She lives life by a philosophy her father taught her: “In every encounter during your day, it’s usually not neutral; it’s either going to be positive or not.” Those encounters are often small, such as a smile or asking someone how their day is going. Dr. Jarvis is also a firm believer in communication. “I also don’t believe in ESP—that if we don’t ask, we don’t know.”
“We go past a lot of people and how much connection you make is up to you,” says Dr. Jarvis. She makes a habit of talking with her students after class and strives to learn a new name every day. These simple, trust-building acts have paved the way for opportunities to give of herself. “You don’t realize you’ve made an impact in the moment because you’re just trying to help someone and you learn from them,” Dr. Jarvis says.
One student who nominated Dr. Jarvis for the award wrote, “I nominated her as I was impressed with how supportive and positive she was as she helped me during a project. She created an environment where I felt important and could turn to her for help if needed. I knew I had an advocate who wanted to see me excel. During the semester, she followed-up and showed genuine care for me. My understanding of the Healer’s Art has been expanded and deepened thanks to the example of Sabrina Jarvis.”
Dr. Jarvis was touched by the award but the real reward was in the relationship. Of the student’s letter, she said, “It really just touched my heart. You don’t think you’re having that impact on a person, and for her to go to the time and effort and the beautiful words she wrote…that to me was the award.” For Dr. Jarvis it has always been about making connections. “You helped them but the gift is you get to know that person. They’re part of your life, and that to me is what it’s all about.”