Azsaneé Truss Receives Penn Prize for Excellence in Teaching

Truss, who was a teaching fellow for two Communication courses in 2023, was nominated for the award by University of Pennsylvania students.

By Hailey Reissman

The Grad Center at Penn announced this week that doctoral candidate Azsaneé Truss has received the 2024 Penn Prize for Excellence in Teaching by Graduate Students. The highly competitive award recognizes the profound impact of graduate students on education at Penn, and nominations come directly from undergraduate and graduate students.

This year, there were 114 nominations for 40 different graduate students instructors, and ten prizes were awarded by the Office of the Provost.

Azsaneé Truss
Azsaneé Truss

Azsaneé Truss served as a teaching fellow for Professor Guobin Yang's “Media Culture & Society in Contemporary China” (COMM 2640) course in Spring 2023 and for Dean Sarah Banet-Weiser's “Critical Approaches to Popular Culture” (COMM 1230) course in Fall 2023. 

Communication major Kara Butler (C’26), who was in Truss’s recitation section for “Critical Approaches to Popular Culture,” praised her commitment to the class.

“She was always so genuine and engaging in class,” Butler says. “I looked forward to going to recitation and getting to talk about the material because I never felt like I was being talked at.”

Butler says it was encouraging to have an instructor who she could relate to: “She is a Black female artist, pursuing similar things that I want to. I was able to see myself in her and I really appreciated that.”

Truss herself is humbled by the tremendous honor.

“I was honored just to be nominated for this award and am really excited to have won,” she says. “I decided to pursue a Ph.D. primarily because I love teaching, so it means a lot that someone took the time to recognize the effort I put into it.”

In her own research, Truss studies the role of multimodal forms in structuring liberatory knowledge production processes. Her research focuses on Black feminism and how it connects with different forms of expression, drawing from fields like cultural studies, performance studies, critical media studies, and Black studies.

Truss is the sixth Annenberg student to receive this award in its two decade history. Past winners include: Muira McCammon (Ph.D. ‘23), Darin Johnson, Allyson Volinsky (Ph.D. ’19), Rachel Stonecipher (M.A. ‘16), and Kevin Gotkin (Ph.D. ‘18).

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