What are your roles at the Valenti Schools of Communication? I am an Instructional Assistant Professor and the Director of Undergraduate Studies.
What classes do you teach? I teach PR Writing, Organizational Crisis Communication, PR Campaigns, Strategic PR Planning and Principles of PR.
What made you want to be a professor? After teaching two or three classes a semester as a lecturer for seven years, I knew my answer would be "yes" if I were ever asked to join the faculty full time. I was asked in Fall 2005 and I haven't looked back since then. It is knowing beyond a doubt that I'm doing something good, something valuable, something that makes a difference in at least some students' lives that gets me up and keeps me going every day.
Why did you choose this field of study? My dad was a newspaper sports reporter and editor who entered the field of employee communication and then media relations when I was a little girl. I chose to follow in his footsteps, first as a newspaper reporter and editor and then as a public relations professional. It just felt "right" from the get-go. I have always been a good writer, and I quite literally grew up in the Press Club of Houston, so it would have been surprising if I had chosen any other field of study.
What do you like most about being a professor at the Valenti School of Communication? I like the students (well, most of them) and I like being able to mentor and help them grow.
What has been your favorite experience as a professor, so far? There are two "favorite" experiences: one is watching the "ah-ha" moment when a student "gets it" and the other is being at a professional PR gathering in Houston and realizing that more than half the people in the room are current or former students. The latter is also pretty humbling.
What accomplishments are you most proud of? There are a lot of awards on my walls, and I'm proud of all of them. I'm proud to be Accredited in Public Relations and very proud to have been selected for the PRSA College of Fellows, where I'm now on track to be chair of in 2017. But, honestly, my greatest accomplishments are my daughter and being a grandma for 12.
What other jobs have you had outside of teaching? I taught high school (journalism, English, history), I was a reporter or editor for the Fort Bend Mirror, Houston Business Journal and Houston Chronicle. I've had two PR businesses (including my current consulting practice). I worked in the public affairs office at Baylor College of Medicine supporting the DeBakey Heart Center, the OB/GYN department and the Women's Health Initiative Study. I have also bounced through a small PR agency and then through a woman-owned engineering firm as a marketing person.
Do you have any tips for students on how to be successful at the Valenti School of Communication? Here's my advice: listen to the professors you know are smart and wise, seek counsel and mentoring, join a student organization (or two or three), don't be afraid of business or math and get as many internships as you can.
What do you know now that you wish you knew as a student? I wish someone would have told me then that I should go to law school. But, I'm really glad I didn't.