I became an educator because I wanted to be rich. The fastest way to get rich, in my opinion, is to invest in people. As a reminder, my personal checks are customized with the following message: “Learn to invest in people.” Educators have the only job that has had a hand in every profession. Journalists, nurses, entertainers, stay-at-home moms, engineers, entrepreneurs, politicians and other people who will one day run the world have learned from an educator. I was deep into my program as a print journalism major at Hampton University when I reconciled that I wanted to be an educator, but the financial commitment and time commitment that came with changing my major was too great. So, I continued to move forward in the journalism program, earning a bachelor’s degree in 2005. Three years later, I enrolled in a program at the University of Michigan-Dearborn to earn a Master of Arts in Teaching with concentrations in English and speech; I graduated from there in 2011.
I am now what friends from college jokingly call a unicorn—or a person using both degrees who actually likes what she’s doing. My degrees in journalism and teaching and my professional experience as a writer and editor at the Detroit Free Press helped me secure an adjunct instructor position at Wayne State University, where I have led courses in news editing, news reporting and journalistic grammar and style. During my time at the Free Press, I directed the largest scholastic journalism program in Michigan for dozens of Detroit Public Schools, a role that earned me recognition from the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association (2009), the Free Press and the City of Detroit for my commitment to scholastic journalism and diversity.
I taught hundreds of Detroit high school students in that non-traditional teaching role, and I’ve trained more than 200 college students during my seven semesters of teaching at Wayne State University. I encourage all my students to embrace the idea of “education for life,” – a motto often emphasized during my undergraduate experience. To practice what I preach, I am pursing a doctoral degree in communication. My goal is to retire from a fulfilling professional life in academia.
I love teaching college students studying journalism. I know what’s required of them to break into the business—and I make it my business to keep up with the trends and changes related to that process. Students have told me they appreciate that I have the practical internship experience that I push them to gain, and they also appreciate that I have worked in newsrooms as a professional. I have represented news managers at recruiting events and led hiring and mentor efforts for newsroom apprentices. I have been a guest speaker for media industry events at dozens of high schools, universities, conferences and corporate banquets. The editing service I operate, www.iEditNred.com (a venture I launched while living in Brazil for 18 months), validates opportunities for entrepreneurship in the journalism and communications industries.
The way I relate to my students today is a reflection of the way my former teachers treated and invested in me. My classroom leadership style is built on establishing teacher-student respect and student-student respect. I commend students when they do well and underscore their faults to show them how to improve. I respect their ideas and opinions, and I respect them as people. I work diligently to gain their trust so that they may allow me to steer them in the right direction. It is my goal to continue to create learning environments – in-person and online – where students are comfortable voicing their opinions and asking questions. I design classroom discussions that allow students to present and support their perspectives during scholarly exchanges of knowledge. I insist that students accept a sense of ownership of their education. During the five years that I’ve been an adjunct instructor at Wayne State University, I have scheduled mandatory conferences that take place in the middle of the semester and near the end of the semester with each student to break down their academic standing in the course. Students’ trust in me as well as their understanding of my expectations is amplified after these conferences. Evaluations of my courses have described me as a fair, accessible, upfront instructor. I have a clear understanding of the challenges adult learners encounter. Working professionals who may be struggling to balance careers, school and families, find my classroom instruction to be clear and concise, yet detailed and individualized enough to keep them focused and motivated. Overall, it’s my goal as an educator to design unforgettable, interesting and organized courses. Here is an assignment I created about social media engagement and grammar.
When I speak to student journalists, I tell them: “The moment you become content with your writing, editing, photos, graphics or whatever your concentration is, switch careers. If you don’t learn something new every day, you are of no service to this industry because you aren’t paying attention.” I take my own advice because I never claim to know it all, and I never want to stop learning. That’s what my teachers wanted for me, and it’s what I want for myself. By doing what my teachers did for me (and more), I hope to pay on the investment they made in me as I instill a similar appreciation for learning in others.