Walsh Comes Full Circle
As MCCC English Faculty Member
Windsor, N.J. - Jennifer Walsh '88 (A.A.S., Legal Assistant)
was intent on studying to be a paralegal when she first started
her college career at Mercer. But her exposure to pedagogy
led her in an unexpected direction that ultimately landed
her back at Mercer as an English faculty member.
"I love seeing success in action," Walsh said. "Teaching
is the means to many ends, and I like being caught up in the
means. I especially love coming across that one student's
paper, the one who was struggling all along who is going to
Walsh's role in the classroom is to push students to read
and write critically at the college level. Since the fall
of 1997, she has taught foundations classes in reading and
writing, as well as English 101 and 102.
In addition to critiquing students' work, she employs a variety
of techniques to engage her students. "Discussions, lectures,
group work, and humor fill a typical class, but each group
is unique in that it is driven by its diversity," said
Walsh, whose students have ranged in age from 16 to 70, from
around the globe, and from all walks of life.
knows well from personal experience that Mercer is a critical starting
point for many students as they figure out what they want to do
with their lives. Her own original goal - to be a paralegal - grew
from her exposure to the legal field through a co-op program at
Nottingham High School. Following in the footsteps of her mother,
who studied nursing at Mercer and went on to a highly successful
career at Princeton Medical Center, Walsh enrolled in MCCC's Paralegal
She felt right at home at Mercer, with its small classes, close
interaction among students and accessibility of instructors. Walsh
says her advisor, Associate Business Professor Jim Rowe, was incredibly
supportive and knowledgeable. "I thank him for much of my success."
Upon graduating from Mercer, she went to work part-time as a paralegal
for the law firm of Bergman and Barrett, primarily focusing on real
estate transactions. She had met Michael Barrett, Esq., at MCCC,
where he was an adjunct instructor.
But Walsh continued to be drawn to the classroom. In fact, her experience
of learning at MCCC turned out to be a life-changer. "I clearly
remember sitting in English class discussing Sophocles' 'Oedipus
Rex.' At that moment, my thirst for knowledge became insatiable.
I loved school and I decided never to leave." Continuing to
work as a paralegal, she transferred to Rutgers to major in English
and graduated in 1991.
She still wasn't finished. "One day I had this wild idea that
I would go to graduate school and become an English teacher, and
I did just that," Walsh said. "I left my job, and the
rest is history." In 1994 Walsh earned a master's degree in
Teaching from The College of New Jersey. She immersed herself in
college culture, serving as a graduate assistant in the Office of
International Students, Exchange, and Study Abroad.
With college behind her, Walsh was finally ready to realize her
goal to teach. She taught English at Cliffside Park High School,
Hamilton High School West, and Hopewell Valley Central High School.
She also taught Business English at the Cittone Institute. "Everything
just fell into place," Walsh noted.
She was encouraged to consider teaching at Mercer by her colleague,
Associate English Professor Carol Friend. She notes that some of
her former professors, like Laura Knight, are now her colleagues.
"Laura has been an incredible mentor." She also acknowledges
Professor Emeritus Jim Franklin, who hired her and mentored her.
Walsh says coming to Mercer has been a great move for her - one
that has brought her full circle and enables her to give back to
the college where she got her start.
"I am proud to be a part of this vibrant college community,"
Walsh said. "I thank God for my education. Mercer opened up
a whole new world for me. I can only hope that I can do the same
for my students."
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