Shaping Role Models

Dr. Stephanie Young, Communication

Don’t let the lectures fool you, being a professor requires much more than standing in front of and talking to a room full of students. It requires being dynamic, instilling deep understanding of subjects and motivating students to believe in themselves and their abilities. Three areas in which Dr. Stephanie Young, associate professor of communication studies, excels. “I think students are engaged learners when they have a professor who loves to teach,” says Young. “And I love to teach.” 

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Dr. Young was one of the first identified "USI role models." Here she speaks at the role model launch event about what being a role model means to her.

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Dr. Young, Dr. Howard, and graduating students pose for a goofy photo in front of the cone

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Dr. Young is an avid runner

Whether in an intimate seminar setting or a large stadium-tiered classroom, she encourages her students to engage, consider and participate in the stories she uses to deepen their experience and knowledge. “I approach teaching as a two-way conversation and try to create a space for open and honest dialogue; an interactive classroom where individuals learn from one another.” 

Part of establishing that space demands building relationships with students, and Young considers her role as an educator inside and outside the classroom equally important. “I believe in strong teacher-student relationships,” she says. “Even with my large lecture courses,  I strive to make connections with each student.”  

I think students are engaged learners when they have a professor who loves to teach. And I love to teach.

Young’s ability to connect knows no boundaries, from first generation college students away from home for the first time, to graduate students in USI’s Master of Arts in Communication Program grappling with complicated theories, to new faculty navigating their first higher-education position. Her open-office policy and open outlook on life—how can she best serve the needs of others—have made her a respected and valued mentor across campus. “To me, a role model is someone who inspires us to be our better selves,” Young says.  

During the course of her own education, she’s had several mentors who’ve played a role in shaping her, and she, in turn, passes on some of their wisdom to her students as she teaches them to build knowledge and skills, be responsible for their education process and work for social change. 

Young’s practiced engagement has led to an impressive body of published papers focused on her expertise—pop culture criticism—as well as community and academic service. “I grew up in northern Indiana, so moving to Evansville felt like I was coming home,” she says. “What keeps me going are the amazing people I work with, my colleagues (who I call friends), and my students (role models in their own right) who inspire me to keep striving every day.” 

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Dr. Young loves squirrels and collects Squirrel Girl items

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Dr. Young and one of her classes

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Dr. Young, Dr. Howard, Archie, and graduating MAC students

Read more USI role model stories