By Steven Haller, Editor-in-Chief
April 24, 2013
When this semester ends, Dr. Julie Wiest, assistant professor of communication, will be parting ways with High Point University to accept a new job teaching sociology at West Chester University, located about 25 miles outside Philadelphia.
Wiest has a bachelor’s degree in communication with an emphasis in public relations and a master’s degree in journalism. However, her Ph.D. is in sociology, which is why she is well-suited for the new position at West Chester.
“It just happened that this was such a good fit for me,” says Wiest about the new position. “I was thinking, ‘Was this written for me or what?’ It was going to be everything I am as a researcher and include all of my specializations from my graduate program.”
Most of Wiest’s recent research explores the relationship between new media technologies and culture, which she says is a great fit for her new position. She also says that West Chester wanted someone to teach social psychology and to occasionally teach the social deviance course, which also plays right into her wheelhouse.
She taught a few sociology courses at HPU, but mostly focused on teaching communication courses. In fact, she is the only HPU professor that taught copy editing for the past three years, so most upper classmen journalism majors have taken her class.
“When I had her for copy editing, she was one of the sharpest, intelligent, and resourceful professors I had at HPU,” says Pat Budd, a senior journalism major. “The lessons she taught our class on the English language, grammar, and AP style have stuck with me and helped me immensely as a journalist.”
Wiest served as a copy editor for multiple newspapers before she decided to become a professor, so teaching copy editing was a natural fit for her. She was a copy editor for the student newspaper at her alma mater: The Daily Beacon at the University of Tennessee. Once she finished her master’s degree, she was hired as the night editor at the Mountain Press, a small 10,000 circulation newspaper in Sevierville, Tenn. However, after a few months into her career, she thought about school.
Dr. Wiest says, “I had never been out of school before and I missed it. I love the university setting. I love the feel of it. It just feels like home. So I thought, ‘Well, the University of Tennessee is just down the road. Why don’t I pick up a Ph.D. in my spare time?’”
While Dr. Wiest worked toward her Ph.D., she took a position as a copy editor at the Knoxville News Sentinel, a much larger newspaper than the Mountain Press. During that time, she also had an assistantship and taught introduction to sociology.
“Getting that teaching experience just right off the bat introduced me to what I thought I would never want to do: teach,” says Dr. Wiest.
After surviving three rounds of lay-offs at the Knoxville News Sentinel, Wiest knew it was time to make the move to teaching. She determined that was really what she wanted to do, and she took her position at HPU in the fall of 2010.
During her time at HPU, in addition to teaching undergraduate sociology and communication courses, Wiest helped develop HPU’s master’s degree program in strategic communication. Wiest worked with Dr. Virginia McDermott, the director of the program, to design and develop the new courses.
“That I would consider a great accomplishment,” says Dr. Wiest about the master’s program. “I think the program has been doing so well. We are so pleased with how quickly it has grown and how well all the students are doing.”
Jessica Liverman, a senior, is enrolled in the master’s program. She says, “Dr. Wiest is an incredibly bright person who has inspired me to expand my knowledge beyond the surface level. The Communication Department will not be the same without her, but I know we are all excited for her to welcome a new adventure.”
Indeed, Wiest will be missed from the communication department. She will not only be missed as an excellent professor, but also as an outstanding individual.
“Outside of the classroom, I always found her as polite, resourceful, and genuinely caring about me as a journalism student,” says Budd.
Wiest says that she tells all of her advisees to work hard and never lose sight of what they want. She qualifies this by saying that you do not absolutely have to know what that is yet. She says that from looking at her educational background with a different degree at each level, it can be seen that she did not know what she ultimately wanted to do either.
Dr. Wiest says, “Have the goal and work hard. The goal can change, your path can shift, and that is okay. Be open to those opportunities. Don’t be afraid to take chances.”