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Faculty Focus| Melissa Newman

Faculty Focus| Melissa Newman

It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to excel in a career. There are many success stories out there; individuals who have worked hard to climb the latter, but not many professionals can say that they have had three separate, but successful career paths.

Melissa Newman, an Eastern Kentucky University Visiting Instructor, is not like most professionals. She has a very distinguished track record in three different professions, each of which utilized her skills in public relations, writing and teaching through different mediums.

Newman started her accomplished career in print and multimedia services, one that spanned more than two decades working in the fields of journalism and public relations. After a productive tenure in this field of work, she made the decision to go back to the beginning and pursue a new career path at her alma mater. It was at Union College, where she received her undergraduate degree in business administration and communication, that she now found herself embarking on her second career.

During her time at Union College, Newman served as the director of the annual fund and alumni relations. She utilized her background in public relations and multimedia communications to help her excel in this position, but she also tapped into an undiscovered skill that grew into a new passion.

In her role, Newman was in charge of the phone-a-thon. With this responsibility came the opportunity to teach students how to host a successful fundraising event. Through this experience, Newman realized that she really enjoyed getting to teach and interact with students.

“Teaching this class was my  ‘ah ha’ moment,” said Newman. “From that point on I knew what I really wanted to do-I wanted to teach.”

In order to take her career down the new and exciting path of becoming a professor, Newman pursued her master’s degree at Union College in secondary education with a specialty in communication and English.

After completing her master’s degree, Newman immediately began applying for teaching positions that were suited to her educational and work expertise.

“I landed my first adjunct position at EKU through teaching an advertising class while Dr. Liz Hansen was still the chair of the Department of Communication,” said Newman. “Dr. Hansen took an interest in me because we had almost mirrored backgrounds by first pursuing journalism and media, and then both getting a degree in secondary education to become professors.”

What started as a one class teaching assignment quickly evolved into a full-time visiting professor role by teaching five classes; three of which she had never taught before.

“I know that starting my career at EKU was a great decision,” said Newman. “This helped me take my resume from one line of teaching experience on my vitae to a full page within my first year as visiting instructor.”

When Newman starts a career path, she never settles at doing the minimum, she has to go beyond the ‘status quo.’ Not only did she take on new teaching roles in courses that she had not taught before, but she also picked up the role of being the EKU liaison and advisor between the Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) initiative and the Department of Communication internship program. She also served as a project leader in this role with the EKU office of Government Relations and Regional Stewardship.

SOAR is a joint federal and state program developed by Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and Kentucky Congressman Hal Rogers in an effort to positively impact the economy, education, health and general quality of life in Eastern Kentucky. During its initial phase, the program has made great utilization of Newman and her interns from EKU to create a comprehensive and dynamic public relations platform that includes print, broadcast and social media strategies.

EKU Government Relations and Regional Stewardship Executive Director, David McFaddin, helped establish this partnership by working with the department of communication to utilize one of their public relations classes to do work for SOAR as a service learning experience. With this new initiative came the need for a faculty member willing to take on this extra responsibility, and Newman stepped up to this need.

“Melissa has been an outstanding leader and ambassador for EKU during our work on this project. Her network of relationships throughout the region and her dedication to excellence has helped to show our students and our stakeholders the best of what EKU has to offer,” said McFaddin

The class project quickly evolved into a full-fledged venture that required public relations student internships year-round.

“We had four interns work with SOAR last summer, and we currently have two student interns who worked through the fall and spring semesters. Because this is a wonderful learning experience, we hope that SOAR will continue to pull interns from EKU,” said Newman

Newman feels confident that this program will continue, saying, “The continued support from our new Department of Communication chair, Dr. Fran Dickson, has allowed me to continue the work I do with SOAR and the EKU public relations interns.”

EKU hopes to provide our region with the best and brightest interns for years to come in order to continue to help shape Eastern Kentucky.

By: Sarah Carpenter, Intern

Government Relations and Regional Stewardship

Published on July 22, 2015

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