Visiting communication lecturer Jerry Engel had a strong interest in teaching from the beginning.
"I tell my students, there's usually something you have done in your life, around the age of 15 or so, that gives you an indication of what you want to be," he said. Engel's enthusiasm for education is shown in his dedication to students in the various communication classes that he teaches at Geneseo.
As an undergraduate student at Providence College, Engel was still unsure of the path he wanted to follow in life. He had considered medical and law school, but decided to build his interest upon what he considers to be "the largest-growing field of study."
"It made the most sense to me," he said, describing his decision to pursue communication. "It opened up avenues in my mind." This interest led Engel to Syracuse University, where he completed his graduate study in Public Relations and Communications Management. His background in English and history, combined with an interest in writing, photography, and "the world of ideas," all contributed to his well-rounded knowledge of public relations. From there, Engel found success in a career in corporate communication.
However, Engel still had a desire to teach. His wish to work with others began from adolescent experiences as a camp counselor and continued to grow. He taught at Geneseo as an adjunct professor for eight years before teaching at Ithaca College for four years. He has currently returned to Geneseo as a visiting lecturer, teaching a variety of communication classes.
Engel noted that he enjoyed teaching different classes, because it enabled him to constantly read about different fields of study. He believes in teaching from a practical standpoint so that students may gain skills needed in a realistic environment.
"I urge my students to take what I call 'calculated risks,'" Engel said. "Sometimes you'll succeed, sometimes you don't. I think, though, that we learn more from our failures than our successes." Engel hopes that his enthusiasm for learning is instilled in his students.
Engel's interest in learning and communication continues outside of the classroom as well. He noted that he is regularly reading and thinking about connections between his education in communications and new ideas that are constantly coming up. "It's about getting inspired while you
learn," he said. While a student at both Providence College and Syracuse University, Engel also thoroughly enjoyed watching college sports teams, and eventually began to coach children's basketball teams. Another interest of his is his young grandchildren. "It's fascinating to see how a two-year-old can learn," he said.
Engel's passion for teaching others both inside and outside the lecture hall has livened his courses in communication. He is enjoying his time here at Geneseo and advises students to take advantage of the "golden opportunity" that the College has to offer. "I'm here to teach, but the learning is the students' responsibility," he said. If Engel's career is any indication, such a responsibility can prove very worthwhile.