How long have you been an educator?
What is your favorite part about being a community or technical college educator?
McLennan Community College (MCC) has a partnership with Texas Tech University. Students earn a 4-year degree without ever leaving the MCC campus. I am fortunate enough to be an assistant professor of practice at Texas Tech University. Working in partnership with MCC allows me to interact with freshman and sophomore students before they come to Tech as a junior. Introductory courses are the front porch of the discipline. A bad experience in Introduction to Communication might drive away a potential major. I love being able to show students what introductory courses can lead to and relish the opportunity to guide students who decide to become communication majors.
What is your best piece of advice for new or existing colleagues at community or technical colleges in your field?
There is a perception that students attend community colleges because they could not go anywhere else. This is a mistake. Push your students and they will rise and exceed your expectations. I went to MCC, some of my hardest courses were at MCC, and I respect professors who do not distinguish between the college level and the community college level because that distinction only harms our students.
How do you connect with your students?
I respect a student’s time more than anything. Once class starts it is showtime and I attempt to showcase all of the passion that I have for the discipline. In any speaking endeavor the goal is to first consider your audience, then adapt your message to your audience. At the beginning of the semester I have the class fill out an index card telling me what they are reading, writing, and listening to. This gives me some insight into what is top of mind for the class and I try to work some of that into the material. Truth be told, I watch too much television, so I tend to weave plenty of popular culture into my courses.
If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be and why?
I will hedge and give one living and one dead dinner companion. Brain Stevenson is a lawyer fighting for individuals on death row. I heard an interview with him recently and was mesmerized. I quickly acquired a copy of Just Mercy. I would just like to hear his perspective on criminal justice, race, compassion, and the shared responsibility Americans have to move us toward a more perfect union.
Robert F. Kennedy gave what I believe is the greatest speech in the history of our country in his impromptu eulogy for Dr. Martin Luther King. His grace in that moment, the way he was able to humble himself and call for unity while still campaigning for the presidency, is remarkable. Rhetoric comes down to exigency, audience, and constraints. RFK handled these in a way I would want insight on over dinner.