Program’s ‘nucleus’ earns Golden Apple Award

Center for Science Excellence director empowers students’ education


Christian Urrutia / The Advocate

ABOVE: Dr. Seti Sidharta, winner of the 2015 Golden Apple Award, oversees a copper cycle experiment in which students mix copper metals with chemical reagents to create color compound reactions in PS-6 on Monday.

By Roxana Amparo, Associate Editor

It is vital to find a professor who dedicates his or her time to provide students with a foundation for their academic goals while fostering an enjoyable learning experience in the classroom.

Creating an atmosphere where students can learn and achieve success in different aspects of their lives is what this year’s Golden Apple Award recipient Seti Sidharta, Contra Costa College’s Center for Science Excellence program director, has demonstrated.

“Education is a form of empowerment,” Dr. Sidharta said. “It is a way to gain respect in today’s society and especially for us women of color. Having status comes with the level of education.”

The Golden Apple Award is given annually during every fall semester to a professor who has demonstrated excellence in the classroom. Deemed worthy by the students in the Alpha Gamma Sigma Honor Society, chemistry professor Sidharta possesses these qualifications.

Receiving the award came as a surprise to her when announced at All College Day, but Sidharta said she was honored to be selected as the recipient.

Physics and astronomy department Chairperson Jon Celesia said, “If she were to take another position, then it would be a great loss. She is important to create a nucleus in the sciences.”

But Sidharta has no plans to leave. She said she only plans to work harder. 

Teaching chemistry is not the only thing she focuses on. Sidharta also plays an important role for transferring students by providing useful information and resources, including internships and scholarships.

“She gives her students a unique opportunity and loves when they succeed,” physics and engineering assistant professor Mark Wong said.

Wong said he has seen how passionate Sidharta is when working with students in the CSE. “She is a role model,” he said.

Sidharta’s presence in the sciences and style of teaching has impacted the lives of others, whether it be in the classroom or in the Physical Science Building where many of her students hangout between classes.

Speaking from experience after taking a chemistry class with Sidharta, engineering major and CSE office assistant Valeria Avila said Sidharta is “firmly” passionate to push students toward their educational goals.

Avila took Sidharta’s chemistry class during the fall 2014 semester and now works alongside her in PS-109.

Within the CSE, Sidharta is seen as more than just a professor — she is seen as a mentor and as a resource on campus. Her teaching style adapts to the different learning styles of students and she does not mess around when it comes to school, Avila said.

“She is tough.” But she makes the experience enjoyable through her humorous personality, she said.

Sidharta said more colleges should open their arms to students and provide help throughout the educational process because it is something students can benefit from.

She is not only directing the CSE program, but she helps students through their transitions and serves as a mentor for the students by opening up a space, whether personal or academic, and makes it possible to open up relationships with her and other students.

Biology major and CSE office assistant Gaganjot Sidhu said the decision to nominate Sidharta happened at the end of the spring  2015 semester during AGS’ final general meeting.

Celesia said Sidharta deserves the award because of the high level of care and support she provides her students.

The connection she develops with her students is “motherly-like” — she expects them to be respectful and responsible, as well as work hard in their studies, he said.

Wong said she is someone students look for advice during challenging situations regarding academic or personal life.