After speaking with Ginni Jurkowski, I packed my bag and left for my room. Reflecting on the conversation, I stopped suddenly and asked myself, "How did she even have time for that interview?"
This communication professor leads a very busy life. Jurkowski teaches at two colleges (three this summer), operates her own training program, takes classes online, participates actively in the Public Relations Society of America, the American Marketing Association and Toastmasters groups and is immersed in an abundance of hobbies and clubs. She recently added one more club to her busy schedule, signing on to be the adviser of The Lamron.
Outside of teaching at Geneseo, Jurkowski runs the GinniJay Group, a 12-year run customer service-training program for corporations. She creates synergy between the group and the classroom. "The people who are receiving the customer service training learn the theory that I teach in my classes at Geneseo and then [those] classes get the benefit of all the little stories that I like to tell," she said.
Without a doubt, this is what Jurkowski is known for at Geneseo, where she has taught for almost 11 years. Her genial demeanor and punctual teaching style effectively tie personal anecdotes in with the everyday class lecture.
The other day as her COMN 277 class was coming to an end, Jurkowski began telling a story about a 90-year-old man she befriended while attending a chocolate-making workshop. "What I enjoyed most was not so much making the chocolates," she said, "but learning about this individual; learning where he had come from life, learning what was important to him. At 90, he still thought that he hadn't learned everything there was to learn, and that's the way I like to think about myself."
Jurkowski involves herself in many hobbies, including playing board games with up to 40 women every couple of months, designing cards in a rubberstamping group and participating in a professional tea group. Jurkowski said that being involved with these groups requires her "to slow down, spend some time with other people and get to know them. In this fast-paced society, we rarely have time to do that."
Her positive attitude is what motivates Jurkowski to never quit. Combined with phenomenal organization skills, it's possible for her to do so much in so little time.
"Every day is a big plan for me," she said. "I like to have my day extremely full. If I could extend it to 28 hours, I think I'd probably have enough [time]. Usually I'm up between 4 and 5 in the morning."
Jurkowski's real-world experience certainly helps as well. She admits to being a "non-traditional student," attending college for only two years before dropping out. From there she worked in financial services and non-profit corporations for 20 years.
"What that allowed me to do was bring all of my real-world experience into my education," Jurkowski said. After two decades spent out in the job world, she received her bachelor's degree from St. John Fisher College and earned her master's in communication at SUNY Brockport shortly after.
Jurkowski lives two minutes away from St. John Fisher in Brighton, NY, with her husband, to whom she has been happily married for 14 years. "Here's something people don't know about me - I got married for the first time at 42 years of age," she said. "I wanted to be married only to one person and that's why I waited so long. I have the perfect person for me."
When asked if she had any advice for aspiring journalists at Geneseo, Jurkowski replied, 'The guest speakers have such valuable information and I wish students took more advantage of that - to talk to them, to link up with them by using professional networks like LinkedIn or Twitter … students [should] spend some more time looking at things like the traditional print newspaper, listening to the radio and also watching television news, in addition to online news."
Before leaving her office, I asked Jurkowski, off the cuff, for a few of her favorite things in life. "I love musicals," she said. "In 'Annie Get Your Gun,' she sings, 'I got the sun in the mornin', and the moon at night,' and that sort of encompasses what I feel. I got something really positive the first thing of the day, and I still got something really positive the last thing of the day." So that's how she does it.