Michael Hewetson: International Teacher of the year

Each year the University of Helsinki honours an international teacher who has made a unique contribution to the learning opportunities for their students.

Michael Hewetson

This year Michael Hewetson, Clinical Teacher in Equine Internal Medicine at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Viikki, was voted Best International Teacher of the Year by the Student Union (HYY). Michael Hewetson received the prize during the International Evening, an annual university event open for international students and alumni. Dr. Hewetson was educated at the Universities of Natal and Pretoria in South Africa where he completed his veterinary degree.

– I think it is important that a teacher has a passion for their subject, since students sense if a teacher is not fully committed to teaching them. Also, being able to explain in different ways is important, especially here in Finland where English is not the mother tongue for most students. Everyone learns in a different way, so I have to be able to teach in various ways to encourage and interest the students.

– The veterinary degree in South Africa takes six years to complete, so I had many undergraduate years to appreciate what students need from their teachers before becoming a teacher myself, explains Michael Hewetson.

After graduating he worked in Great Britain where he pursued his career and also specialized in equine internal medicine. From there he went on to Saudi Arabia.

– I worked for a Saudi prince who had a stable for 400 Thoroughbred race horses. It was definitely a huge change for me, but I enjoyed it and it was a very valuable experience.

In 2009 Michael Hewetson applied for a job as a clinical teacher in equine internal medicine at the University of Helsinki.

– I emphasize that it is ok to ask questions and make mistakes. The university is the place to make mistakes and learn. Do not be afraid to speak up. No questions are stupid or irrelevant. I think it is important to admit when you do not know. If you are unsure, ask someone who knows. That is the way you develop yourself. If you make a mistake, do not dwell on it, but learn from it and do not repeat the same mistake again.

Michael Hewetson’s students praise him as a splendid lecturer. He is clear, interactive and he has a practical, down to earth approach. He is always ready to answer questions and to give support. His commitment is evident and he has succeeded in creating an engaging environment for his students.

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Text: Karin Hannukainen
Photo: Linda Tammisto
University of Helsinki, digital communications

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