Faculty/Staff Strongest Influence Award

Dr. Jacqueline Emerine

When Dr. Jacqueline Emerine first stepped foot on campus in 2007, she didn’t know a single person.

Emerine was hired with three other faculty members that year, and they all shared one office in Landrum Hall. There were four desks and four chairs in an office just bigger than a closet, she says. It was a tough transition, but those former roommates remain some of her best friends.

She’d grown up in a small farming community, New Haven, just outside of Fort Wayne, Indiana, where her grandfather owned a small farm and she learned to drive a tractor before learning how to drive a car. For Emerine, Northern Kentucky University’s familial ease of community spoke to her small-town roots.

“NKU is kind of a special place. I’ve had the best times of my life while I’ve been here,” Emerine says. “My NKU family has really been there for me.”

Currently, Emerine teaches mostly in the public relations program but also in communication studies and the graduate program. Her career as a professor of communication happened, as she says, quite by accident. The original goal was to be a dental hygienist, but she woke up one day to the realization she couldn’t stick her hand in strangers’ mouths for the rest of her life.

Emerine found sanctuary while pursuing her master’s degree when, during an interpersonal communication course, a professor took her under her wing. Her call to teach found her soon after, and she started teaching at the collegiate level in 1998.

“I enjoyed seeing light bulbs go off in students’ heads in the classroom,” Emerine says. “All it takes is that one person who says you’re not only OK at this, but you’re good at it. You should be thinking about doing this long term because you have a gift.”

And now Emerine is trying to do the same for her students. In the courses she teaches, she dedicates most of the time to encouraging students to take active interest in their own learning.

“Most of my lectures are 10 minutes, and the rest of the time is using that information in a very strategic way,” she says. “It’s important for them to have fun while they’re learning because that’s how they get more engaged. I spend a lot of time trying to get to know my students and what’s important to them to make this tangible for them.”

But Emerine doesn’t want her students to be the only ones learning.

“I think my goal in this process is to give them a love for learning and for them to become lifelong learners,” she says. “But I also believe and hope and wish that I am going to learn as much from them as they are going to learn from me.”