Mass Media department welcomes upbeat professor


Assistant Professor of Mass Media Laura Young teaches her Intro to Public Relations class during the last week of the fall semester. Image by Lily Stephens.

Story by Andrew Dau

Selecting Laura Young as the new assistant professor of mass media was an easy choice for Joe Watson, who is the chair of the Department of Mass Media and Visual Arts.

“Her academic training as well as her specific interest in strategic communication was of appeal since we were looking for a professor who could … guide our public relations program,” Watson said.

Young has an extensive track record in public relations with her time at Edelman, a global communications, PR and marketing firm. She worked closely with many different companies and dealt with their mergers and acquisitions of other companies. Her time in the PR environment gave her valuable knowledge that she can share with current students.

While Young was successful in PR, she also realized during an internship for a master’s program that it might not be the right fit. One faculty member suggested that she should begin teaching.

“When I was a kid, I always thought I would be a teacher, and so my parents always laugh about how I circled back around [from PR to teaching],” Young said.

Young has taught at the University of Kentucky while getting her Ph.D. and at Butler University after she earned her doctorate.

“I’ve found that with all the jobs I’ve had, nothing was individualized,” she said. “You were a part of a team and had to give to that team effort.”

This focus on teamwork translated extremely well for Watson, who saw her potential when she began to work with students in the mass media department.

“Whenever you bring in a new person, the concern is always, ‘Oh gosh, how will this affect the group dynamic?’ but instead she fits in great,” Watson said. “The minute she got here, she had our backs, and so we have her back.”

Many students say they enjoy her classes every day.

Freshman Alanna Dierking, a nursing major, was uneasy about taking a course that is not a part of her nursing curriculum.

“I’m in Mass Media and Society, and I was a little hesitant to join the class because I just don’t know much about mass media,” Dierking said.

Dierking added that Young’s teaching styles are extremely helpful.

“I really like how she uses the PowerPoints because I’m someone who likes to see what we’re talking about,” Dierking said. “She’s very organized and has a clear vision for what she’s trying to get across to us.”

Watson also recounted an instance of Young’s teaching while he was sitting in on a class. He witnessed how Young was able to go from lectures to worksheets to in-class discussion, all in one class.

“In a 50-minute class period, she had three or four different teaching styles. That’s reflective of a really strong instructor,” Watson said. “She’s able to appeal to the various types of learners.”

Her use of multiple teaching styles might be all for nothing, however, if Young did not have a personality that students describe as upbeat and outgoing.

“I love her enthusiasm,” Dierking said. “She’s just always very bubbly, and you can tell that she’s really happy to be there.”

Young praised Baker students for their willingness to experiment and adapt.

“I love that the students are so open to try anything new,” Young said. “I can throw anything at my students and they try it. If it works, it’s great, and if it doesn’t, then we fix it. I haven’t had that in the past.”