Prof. Melanie Householder '05 Recognized With 2021 Nerhood Award

March 28, 2022

Melanie HouseholderSenior Lecturer in Kinesiology Melanie Householder '05 has spent the last 10 years at Whittier advancing how the College teaches health and anatomy, impacting the lives and future careers of countless students. 

A former registered nurse, Householder’s academic focus is on human anatomy, physiology, and health.

As part of her health courses, Householder developed an experiential lab component to enhance student learning and engagement. “I am most appreciative and proud of our ability to explore and analyze multifaceted issues in human health as they are so inextricably intertwined with the complex society in which we live," she said. "The [Current Topics in Health] course takes full advantage of its position at a liberal arts institution, where cross-disciplinary lenses are used to amplify student interest, inquiry, and knowledge.”
As recognition for her academic rigor, commitment to student success, and creating a challenging and supportive learning environment, Householder was awarded the 2021 Nerhood Teaching Award. 
“Her classes are hard, there is a lot of information, but she provides enthusiasm and knowledge to reach each student and this makes the classes anything but daunting,” wrote one student nominator. 

“This professor cares for each and every single student they have in class. Not only is she an amazing professor, but she’s also an outstanding human being,” wrote another student. “She takes the time to talk to students on a personal level to get to know them more as a person rather than just another student.”
Moreover, Householder was recognized for her strength in online teaching—she was nominated in the midst of the pandemic while instruction was still fully remote. 
Many students commented on the drawings Householder used in her anatomy courses—both those provided by the professor and the drawings that students were required to do:

“This professor engages their students through her labs and lecture drawings to really learn about muscles and bones and how they connect to understand human movement. Her classes are never dull and … she wants students to be engaged to really learn,” wrote one student.
A colleague's nomination expanded on Householder's use of biological illustrations as part of her teaching methodology. “There is real talent in being able to do this. She puts tremendous effort into providing important and useful illustrations for her students, both those available from external sources and those she creates herself. She also asks students to think about how best to create illustrations themselves, which requires them to be able to think deeply about structure and function. This effort is not only greatly appreciated by her students, but pays off handsomely in their ability to understand the human body.”
Along with her own illustrations, Householder has introduced Whittier students to Anatomy.TV software from Primal Pictures. Primal Pictures creates and publishes the world's most medically accurate and detailed 3D graphic rendering of human anatomy based on imaging data.
In 2020, Householder applied for and received a Whittier Innovates Grant, which supported the acquisition of the human anatomy and physiology software that is now accessible to all Whittier College community members through the library’s online platform. This acquisition enabled a critical element of her courses—visual learning with both guided and independent exploration—to come alive in the online/remote environment.

“The students loved it,” she said. 
About receiving the Nerhood Award, Householder said, “The recognition is absolutely exhilarating because it represents an achievement in my teaching work that I care about so much and that I know has been shaped by so many others—my family, my teachers, my students, my colleagues, my friends, and more." 
She added, “I first came to Whittier as a first-generation Latina college student in the mid 1990s. I knew that I could receive a good liberal arts education here. I chose to work at Whittier College because there were people here who believed in me as much as I believed in both them and in the institution’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.”
In addition to being a very active advisor and mentor for students within the Kinesiology department, Householder has served as a first-year mentor. She is also a pre-health advisor for any student who is aiming toward a career in the healthcare field (primarily pre-nursing, pre-physician assistant, and pre-first responder).
Householder has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Whittier College, a master’s degree in biology from St. Joseph’s University, and she completed two undergraduate programs in nursing—LVN licensure and RN licensure.