Katie Schwind has a lot in common with many Greensboro College students.
The new assistant professor of communication and media is a first-generation college graduate. She has had to balance school, career, and family, and she brings real-life experience to her academic endeavors.
“I understand that school sometimes does not and cannot come first for students,” she says. “I believe that my own experiences with juggling work, school and family have helped prepare me to be a flexible teacher that is willing to work with students to balance all of the things competing for their time.”
The newly minted Ph.D. comes to GC from the University of Colorado Boulder, but Schwind grew up in a house surrounded by cornfields in Lima, Ohio. A straight-A student through high school, she says that her family’s “very narrowed” views of success in America led her to the pre-med program at the University of Cincinnati, where she earned a B.S. in neurology.
But she wanted to study advertising and media in grad school. So, she enrolled at the University of Denver to pursue an M.A. in Media, Film, and Journalism Studies and started balancing school and work. While in graduate school, she worked as a project manager in a small advertising agency in Boulder, near Denver.
Schwind says that experience, working in advertising, continues to inform how her courses focus on applied skills; she also shared how that background meshes well with the theory and criticism of her graduate work.
Her master’s thesis analyzed the character of the U.S. Secretary of State, Elizabeth McCord, in the CBS drama “Madam Secretary,” and examined whether the show challenged or reproduced the postfeminist notion that “women can have it all.”
After completing that program, Schwind pursued her Ph.D. in Media Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. A lover of craft beer, she included in her research a look at how craft breweries use independence to brand themselves. She also examined how street art was used – “commodified” – to help revitalize a collection of Denver neighborhoods that had not been used since the industries previously located there had left.
She applied to Greensboro College in part because of both family and location – her husband, a chemist and fellow Ohioan, works in the Research Triangle, and they were delighted at the chance to once again be within a day’s drive of family there. But, it was GC’s people who really sold her on the opportunity.
“From my first email with the hiring committee to my offer call, every person I encountered was excited to share their experiences at GC,” she says. “For a new Ph.D. graduate, having people willing to chat about all my career goals and how I can make them happen here was impactful.”
As the parents of a 1 ½-year-old son, she and her husband also appreciate how GC allows her to prepare for class and do research from home: “(That) has been essential for our little family.”
And for the in-class part?
“My favorite part about teaching is learning,” she says. “Every day I write down at least one thing that my students are interested in or have experienced that I had never heard of before. My classes are discussion-based, so allowing students unlimited opportunities to apply the course concepts and theoretical perspectives to their own lives helps all of us.”