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‘Women in Power on Campus’ Series: Dr. Wendy Maxian

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Xavier chapter.

Taking inspiration from the national Her Campus chapter series: “How She Got There,” we at HCXU decided to find a little female inspiration right here at Xavier! This is the first interview of (hopefully) a bi-weekly series of powerful women on our campus. We will talk with professors, staff, and faculty members to ask them how they got to be here at Xavier.

Name: Dr. Wendy Maxian

Hometown: Syracuse, NY

Twitter: @wmaxian 

B.A./Major: Studied Communications with a focus in journalism and public relations at John Carroll University

M.A.: Cleveland State University, 2004

Ph.D.: Texas Tech University, 2009

Did you always know you wanted to become a Communications Professor?

Dr. Maxian started out as a biology major for about 6 weeks her freshman year of college then decided it wasn’t for her. “Journalism was a nice fall back, I always enjoyed writing and thought it would be a good fit.” After realizing she wanted a little more of a challenge in her professional life she decided to go back to school to her Master degree from Cleveland State University. There, she became a teacher’s assistant and fell in love with teaching.

Job description:

Involved at Xavier as an associate professor who has tenure.

What is a typical day like?

“Teaching three classes. Professors must also remain active in research and service. Service includes community service as well as university and department service. I serve on committees that help the academic affairs part of Xavier, fulfill the mission and remain excellent. Right now, it’s also my turn to be the department chair, which means I collaboratively coordinate what the communication arts department and faculty do.”

What do you like about doing what you do?

“I like to be a nerd all the time. I like to be able to teach students what I really enjoy. Scheduling is flexible and it is what you make it. It is self-driven and you can really study whatever you want. It has good job security, it’s innovative, and I get to do what I love.”

What do you dislike about what you do?

“The culture today does not really support education. Currently, education does not seem to be validated and is just to get a job. People also look at you weird when you say you have a Ph.D. because it is not a very common thing, so people don’t know what to do with it. Especially as a female, it made dating hard.”

What is one thing that you wish you had known when you first started out?

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help or mentorship. You are still independent, but doing everything on your own is not possible.”

What inspired you to start out in this path?

“My fall back was writing and I really enjoyed it. It sounded kind of fascinating. I wanted to be the watchdog, to help and tell people stories.”

What advice do you have for Xavier women on campus?

“To do you. There is so much social pressure, just do what interests you and do what you want to do and everything will fall into place. Go with it. Jobs are important but things work out if you want them too. Trust your gut, if something does not feel right and you feel you are being treated differently because you are female, you are probably right.”

What advice do you have to women who are in a male dominated major/career?

“That’s a lot of them. But you deserve to be there as much as anyone else. You have the credentials. Be confident in that, people will try to make you doubt yourself.”


Do you have a professor or faculty member that you want to feature as a powerful woman on campus? Email us at sweetermans@xavier.edu with her name and title on campus, and we will try to get an interview with her! – HCXU

Sara is a Sophomore Public Relations major with a double minor in Political Communications and Business at Xavier University. She is also involved with an acapella group, Acabellas, and the Center for Faith and Justice on campus. She loves all dogs, dark chocolate, and inspirational quotes.