Holly Ott, or Professor Ott as most students know her, is one of the newest additions to the communications/journalism department, becoming a full-time faculty member last fall, although she has been part of the staff since 2009.
Her students know her as a dedicated and experienced professor. But what some do not know is that she is going back to school.
“I am currently working toward fulfilling the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Mass Communications (Strategic Communication focus) at the Pennsylvania State University,” Ott explained.
She explained, saying that her focus is public relations. She said she has always had more interest in public relations than many of the other aspects of communication/journalism. She added that going back to get her doctorate makes her more employable.
She was hired as a professor before she received a doctorate, which is unlike most professors who are not even considered without their terminal degree. She wanted to have a chance to compete with others in her field. But it is much more than just a career asset.
She is also going back to school for her students. “This experience has made me a stronger teacher, learner and public relations practitioner,” Ott said.
She believes that although she has the work experience, she needs to give her students the same opportunities as professors who have the class experience as well as on-the-job experience.
And if it were not enough that she is going back to school and teaching full time, she’s also “heavily involved in the area of academic research.”
“My research agenda focuses on corporate social responsibility, sustainability and ethics in nonprofit organizations,” she said. Again, these topics all fall under in public relations area.
She even will present six conference papers this year. But these are not the real reasons she does her job.
Her job is about the students, especially being the internship coordinator for the communication/journalism department. This means on a daily basis, besides teaching students, she is helping several students outside of the classroom.
While it can be a challenge to keep up with everything, she sets goals.
“My goal as an educator is to maximize the capabilities of students so each can contribute to the advancement of the dynamic field of mass communications as informed, innovative, and ethical media professionals.”
Which also means that she builds strong relationships with her students.
One of her favorite parts of the job is seeing how she impacts her students, especially when it has contributed to their success.
She believes that the teacher-student relationship is important, especially when they succeed, and, “a challenge that I will always embrace.”
She also explained that the only real draw back from this job is when her students leave.
Ott said she is happy to see them go and succeed, she misses seeing them on campus and talking with them as often.
Even though it is saddening, she knows there is another year with another group of students who she will be able to help guide to success.