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Alum Jennifer Walsh Comes Full Circle
As MCCC English Faculty Member


5/9/11


West 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 make it."

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.

Jennifer Walsh '88

Walsh 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 program.

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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