Dodge City resident Rekala Tuxhorn was recently named Faculty Member of the Year at Fort Hays State University for Health and Behavioral Sciences.

Tuxhorn graduated from Minneola High School in 2003 and received her associate of arts degree from Dodge City Community College in 2004.

She then received a bachelors degree from Fort Hays in social work in 2007 then went on to Wichita State receiving her advanced generalists masters degree in social work.

She graduated Fort Hays Cum Laude and Beta Delta Chapter from Wichita State, receiving a 4.0 grade point average.

"After receiving my Masters degree I started teaching social work courses for DCCC as an adjunct instructor," Tuxhorn said. "I taught with them for 9 years, and thoroughly loved building the social work program.

"During that time and in present time there is still a deficit for social workers in Southwest Kansas.

"I was approached by the social work department about a BSW program to 'land' at Dodge. I hit the ground running with this idea.

"I worked side by side to get the 2+2 agreement completed with DCCC and FHSU along with approval and recruitment of students to be part of the Dodge City Cohort through FHSU.

"My first year teaching for FHSU was when our cohort started last August 2016. The cohort in Dodge City receives on the ground education with the exact same curriculum as the students who are on campus at Hays." Tuxhorn received the award through the nomination by Tim Davis,  Chair, Department of Social Work at FHSU

"The College of Health and Behavioral Sciences adjunct of the year is open to any adjunct in the college," said Davis. "There are six departments in our college and we are the largest college (student headcount) in the university.

"The award criteria centers around teaching excellence and overall contribution to the college.

"I nominated (Tuxhorn) to the Chairs Council and award committee. In the nomination, I emphasized both her high teaching evaluations from students and her significant contribution in getting the Dodge City cohort off the ground.

"It is very atypical for adjuncts to take on responsibilities outside of the classroom. Her contributions in student recruitment, coordination with the community college, advising Dodge City students and assistance in finding qualified adjuncts goes far and beyond what is typical for an adjunct.

"Among the chairs council, her nomination was supported unanimously."

Tuxhorn was unaware she had been nominated and did not find out until she was notified she had been selected for the award.

"It was a great surprise," she said. "Honestly, I thought it wasn't real at first. There were four awards given as faculty (adjunct) of the year across all the disciplines offered at FHSU.

"The College of Health and Behavioral Sciences alone encompasses allied health, communication sciences and disorders, health and human performance, nursing, psychology and social work."

Some of the trends that are happening when it comes to health behavioral sciences according to Tuxhorn, are the advancements being made within the field.

"Everyday more research is done rather it be within medication or therapy styles which could help those who suffer from a diagnosis, cope and understand their diagnosis," she said. "Some may not be curable, but many are definitely treatable.

"As society is always changing and evolving so is the realm of treatment. With continued advancements and treatable applications to diagnosis', many will be able to understand who they are with that particular diagnosis.

"Medications will continue to advance as more research is completed. Some suffer from a dual diagnosis and may take more than one medication.

"Humans do not all function the same, nor do their brains react and accept medication in the same way. It could take a few medication appointments to get the sufficient medication for the client." After starting a family, Tuxhorn moved back to Dodge City to be able to give back to the town, she says, "gave her so much."

"I am extremely humbled and appreciative for being nominated and selected for this award," she said. "I wouldn't be the instructor I am today without the knowledge of those who have instructed me and all my past and current students.

"My instructors at FHSU are the reason I decided to teach 9 years ago. They made learning an experience that settled deep into my heart.

"Relationships are key to building a trusting and positive rapport with others. The social work world starts with relationships and empowerment. Without those two key components you wouldn't have treatment plans that would be successful.

"I, personally, feel like many residents who leave to receive a higher education do not return back to their hometown. I believe this program will successfully graduate these students who are residents of Ford County and surrounding counties and then infiltrate them back into their own community.

"There will always be a need for social workers as the demand is high. Burnout happens often as caseloads are too large as there are not enough social workers in our area and across the state."

If you are interested in this program and helping others please contact Tuxhorn at rgtuxhorn@fhsu.edu.

"I would like to thank my family for allowing me to spend countless hours to continue my growth in this field," Tuxhorn said. "After receiving my board certified PTSD clinician designation along with a relationship specialist designation, I am looking at what I could do next to enhance my knowledge in this career.

"While teaching for FHSU at night, I have also just joined the Behavioral Team with SKACD #613 and am very excited to see what this new adventure brings."

To contact the writer email vmarshall@dodgeglobe.com