Professor Spotlight: Jennifer Follis

By Molly Cline

 

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From the printing press to reporting in a time with many technological advances, Professor Jennifer Follis knows the ins and outs of journalism. She teaches Introduction to Journalism, Journalism 200, News Editing, Journalism 320 and a science-based journalism class, Journalism 471.

Molly Cline: What is your favorite part about teaching?

Professor Follis: My favorite thing about teaching is getting to know the students- individual students and small groups of students.

MC: You went to college at the University of Illinois. Have you always wanted to stay here and be a professor here?

PF: It was never in my plan.  Here’s what happened: I finished my bachelor’s degree here and then I went to work for the News Gazette.  The university had a need to add a section of editing; graduating seniors needed a class and they had nobody else to teach it.  Since I was in town and they knew me, they called me and asked if I had any interest in teaching the class.  I taught the one class and then next year they asked me to do it again.  I did that part-time for quite a few years and then I went full-time in 2000.

MC: What made you decide to pursue a degree in journalism?

PF: I don’t remember when I decided.  It is something I always wanted to do truly.  When I was a little girl the newspaper was always on the kitchen table when I woke up.  I was always very interested in the news.  From the time I was in middle school I thought that was what I wanted to do.  I was also a child in the ‘70s, so I was a teen during Watergate and the Pentagon Papers.  It was formative.  There was an investigative reporter named Don Bolles who actually was car bombed when I was a high school journalist.  He lay dying in a Phoenix hospital for days and days and days, and that really cemented my conviction that journalism was an important thing to do in society.

MC: What is the most challenging part about being a professor?

PF: The most challenging part about being a professor is trying to find the right way to connect with each student.

MC: Besides teaching, what are some other things that you like to do?

PF: I like to work out.  I walk with my neighbor every weekday morning.  I go to the YMCA body pump class.  I really enjoy that.  I like to cook and I enjoy spending time with my family.  I have a husband and I like to travel.

MC: Where is your favorite place to travel?

PF: I really like going to Michigan and I like going to the Southwest. I was a teenager in Arizona, so I like going back to the desert.  I’ve been very privileged; I have gotten to go to the Middle East and Africa. Cape Town, Africa is very beautiful.

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*Image Sources:

Photo courtesy of Molly Cline

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