Ashleigh Ralls, Laramie County Community College Radiography Program director, has been honored with the prestigious 2023 Dale P. Parnell Distinguished Faculty Award from the Association of American Community Colleges.
This award recognizes excellence in teaching and leadership in the community college environment. As a leader in the field of radiography, Ralls' achievement is a testament to her commitment to educating students and improving the standards of radiography programs across the country.
Ralls, who first came to LCCC as a student after graduating from Cheyenne East High School, began her career at the college as the Radiography Program clinical coordinator in 2013. In 2018, she was offered the program director position on an interim basis, taking on the position in-full in 2019.
After not being sure what she wanted to do after high school, Ralls took a chance on LCCC's radiography program — a decision that would change her life. She graduated in 2005 and worked in health care for several years before eventually earning her bachelor's degree from Bellevue University and her master’s from the University of Wyoming.
Parnell Distinguished Faculty winners are recognized for demonstrating passion for students and the classroom, something Ralls said is a result of her loving to share her knowledge of radiography.
"I don't like people to fail," she said. "If I learned something, I'm telling you all about it, and I want you to learn from the mistakes I've made. I'm not afraid to tell those stories to my students."
The goal of being a good educator, Ralls said, is to be willing to support students inside and outside of the classroom.
“Just having students know that somebody is here for them is so important,” she said. “We make deeper connections with students, so when they come to LCCC, they say, ‘In our radiography program, you come out with a family.’”
Ralls was also selected because of her participation in committees working to improve LCCC. Through her decade at the college, she's served on a large number of committees, with perhaps the most memorable being the Academic Standards Committee, a role she still fills today.
Not only does she like being involved in the important decisions on campus and learning more about her colleagues through the work, Ralls said she wants to make a contribution.
"It's an honor to serve in that capacity," she said.
Award recipients are also recognized for going above and beyond what is required to ensure that students are successful in their academic endeavors. Being a part of the process where students change their lives makes that effort worthwhile, Ralls said.
"The biggest driver for me is helping people become their best selves," she said.