This week’s Campus Celebrity is none other than Jennifer Whalen, an incredibly involved doctoral student. Jennifer is seeking her Ph.D., in communication and teaches a variety of classes on the subject. Jennifer, who is originally from Temperance, Michigan is involved in so many organizations. She’s president of the USF Graduate Communciation Association, is working with the USF Graduate Professional Student Council and Graduate Assistants at USF. She also advises a variety of student groups, including To Write on Her Arms USF, Young People’s Revolution and is co-advisor for one of USF’s newest student organizations, the Love and Romance Club. Want to know how Jennifer keeps it all together? Read on!
Her Campus USF: How did you become GCA co-president?
Jennifer Whalen: “I was nominated for the GCA Co-President position last spring and the graduate community in my department selected me for the position.”
HC: What does the organization do?
JW: “Our organization plans Department of Communication events that help graduate students in the facilitation of their academic and professional success. We host workshops, bring in guest speakers, and facilitate graduate student holiday events (such as the Halloween party). We also raise money each year to help out a charitable organization during the holiday season. We serve as a liaison between the faculty and the graduate students in the Department of Communication and help to peer-mentor incoming graduate students.”
HC: What does your job entail?
JW: “The work I do for the Graduate Communication Association mostly entails event planning, setting up and conducting meetings, attending department faculty meetings and helping to organize social outings and events that help graduate students in developing their professional careers.”
HC: Tell us about the work you do with GSPC and GAU:
JW: “As a member of the GSPC and the GAU, I work with graduate students on an interdisciplinary level in order to accommodate for the needs of graduate students. With the graduate union, I help to rally for better pay rates, insurance and healthcare benefits and ensure that student grievances do not go unheard.”
HC: How did you become a coordinator for the FCA Annual Convention?
JW: “I took on the position of the Florida Communication Association Marketing Coordinator last year at our annual convention. The convention is designed for both students and faculty to present their current research projects. I was approached by a member of the executive board who was interested in recruiting me for the position. At our most recent board meeting, I took on the role of Convention Planner for the 2015 conference, which is the state conference for communication scholars.”
HC: What courses are you currently teaching?
JW: “In the past I have taught Public Speaking, Interpersonal Communication, and Love and Communication. I have also facilitated with Introduction to Communication and Relationships on Film. I am currently teaching Interpersonal Communication but I will be teaching Love and Communication this fall.”
HC: What do you love the most about teaching?
JW: “One of my favorite things about my job is creating classroom community so that students are able to connect with one another. I’ve found that my students become friends throughout the course of the semester, many of them having lasting friendships. I also enjoy the opportunity to share some of the work that I am passionate about with other people, and I love to see students get excited about coming to class. I couldn’t ask for a better job.”
HC: What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned from one of your students?
JW: “I have found that when students feel comfortable in the classroom they are willing to be more open about their personal experiences that connect with course material. I can’t say that there is only one interesting thing that I’ve learned because I continue to learn from my students every day. The emphasis I put on classroom community draws out stories that personal, evocative, and helps create for a better learning experience for both the students, and for me.”
HC: Tell us about the work you do with TWLOHA:
JW: “I am currently the Faculty Advisor for TWLOHA, which is an organization designed to put an end to suicide, bullying and self-harm. Because each week has a different theme, I am currently planning a guest-lecture session on bullying.”
HC: Tell us about YPR, what they do and what you do for them:
JW: “The Young People’s Revolution is an on-campus organization designed to help students become empowered through their ability to take charge of their professional careers. I oversee this organization and monitor the membership rates to help ensure that the organization has funding for promotional events.”
HC: With so much going on, how do you manage your time?
JW: “Time management is a skill that has to be developed, but, frankly, I just love the work that I do. I’m so passionate about my students, my department, my graduate program and the on-campus organizations I work with that it doesn’t feel like work. There are some long days, there’s no doubt about that, but I feel so happy and grateful knowing that the projects and research I’m working on are going to benefit others.”
HC: What motivates you to be so involved?
JW: “I’ve been at USF since 2006. When I began my studies here as an undergraduate student I was not involved on campus at all. Instead, I worked two jobs and went to school full-time to pay my tuition. I began to realize that involvement at USF would be crucial, not only to my academic success, but also to my personal happiness. In addition, the more students I met, the more I wanted to be a part of USF activities. Involvement is so important in the college experience and I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to be a part of the USF community.”
HC: What are your post-graduation goals and plans? What is your dream job?
JW: “After my dissertation defense I plan to seek out a career in academia. I would love to continue teaching. I’d like to also become involved in administration on a college campus. My dream job is the job I have now, I am so grateful for the students and faculty that I’ve been able to work with, as well as the opportunities USF has provided me to become successful as a facilitator of communication-based events.”
HC: When you aren’t working or doing something for a campus org, what do you like to do for fun?
JW: “I love to take my dog, Jojo to the beach in Fort DeSoto. I also like to read, cook and spend time with my friends.”
HC: Name a woman (real, fictional, deceased or alive) who inspires you and tell us why.
JW:“My mom is an inspiration to me. She is the reason I work as hard as I do and she is always there for me when I’m having a stressful day. I wouldn’t be where I am, if it weren’t for her. I’m grateful to have such a supportive and caring family.”