Dr. Ryan Manow, a microbiology instructor at Malcolm X College, discovered his passion for the subject while he was a community college student himself. He began his college journey in journalism at a community college in the Chicago suburbs, but his fascination with the makeup of living things led him into the science field and to Northern Illinois University, where he completed his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees.

While Dr. Manow was finishing his studies at NIU, he worked as an instructor at a nearby community college. He enjoyed working with a smaller group of students and making an impact on them. Upon earning his PhD in microbiology, he saw the opportunity to do just that at Malcolm X College.

“Working at Malcolm X, which has a focus on healthcare, gives me an opportunity to teach students who are pursuing careers in the medical field,” Dr. Manow said. “I want to expand their knowledge about microbiology while also having empathy and understanding for them. I was once a full-time community college student working part-time, and I understand that some students in my classes have jobs and families.”

Drawing from his own experiences, Dr. Manow is dedicated to creating a supportive environment for his students. His goal is to help them understand what is often considered a difficult subject, but he also wants them to enjoy coming to class. His favorite part of his job is seeing his students engaged, motivated to learn, and simply having fun as they get to know each other and build friendships.

Dr. Manow finds fulfillment in knowing he’s made a positive impact on his students’ lives, evidenced by their requests for letters of recommendation as they pursue further education and careers. And beyond his students, he also wants to make a difference for his colleagues. Outside of his instructional role, Dr. Manow is the adjunct coordinator for the Life Sciences Department at Malcolm X.

“I started as an adjunct myself, so I want to share resources with my fellow faculty members that I wish I had access to back then,” he said.

The support and dedication Dr. Manow offers to his students and colleagues alike earned him a City Colleges Luminary Award in 2024.