Posted on February 9, 2022
By Nick Stankovic, Blake Shoemaker, Brady Shoemaker and Sara Manring
“I saw some of my quietest students, some of the students who never talk, having these little smiles and really breaking out of their shell.” – Dr. Jenni Simon
Jenni Simon is an undergraduate professor and director of undergraduate studies for the communication studies department at UNCG. Any student who has taken a class with Professor Simon will attest to the fact that she has an undeniable charisma. Being a communications scholar, Professor Simon has a great understanding of people, which she uses to connect with her students and those around her. Dr. Simon often uses storytelling as a powerful means of communicating. She said “Stories are compelling when we don’t understand difficult topics. Stories and narratives help us to understand.”
Dr. Simon also strives to be a leader in her community, most recently in her role as faculty liaison with Democracy Tables, a community dialogue project created by the Greensboro Historical Museum. The project was created with a grant from the National Communication Association’s Center for Communication, Community Collaboration and Change at UNCG. Simon said it took her a while to develop her leadership style. She said she was taught leadership in the “traditional” sense, meaning that you come in with the intent to dominate a room and have your voice heard. Through trial, error and experience she learned this style definitely did not suit her. Her leadership style is rooted in listening. She said “Leadership is about listening; it’s about giving people the abilities and tools to move forward…. I think listening and giving others the chance to talk, the platform to speak is the most important thing. A leader can do it.”
Earlier this semester we asked Dr. Simon for specific leadership advice and what she told us rang true with her actions as our professor. She told us to always be ourselves, gaining respect can be hard enough as it is but as a leader it will be almost impossible to gain respect if you are not genuine. Another piece of leadership advice she gave us was to read the room. An example she gave was if the group you are leading is quiet and reserved, you will have to be more vocal and outgoing. Lastly, she told us to be outgoing. She told us how in faculty meetings she isn’t scared to let her voice be heard. People respect honesty and sincerity.
Dr. Simon is a shining beacon in her community. She leads by example and is a woman of her word. Her outgoing and confident style have led to great success in her career. Professor Simon gave us the perfect blueprint to follow with her leadership tips: always listen, always read the room and be genuine. Leadership does not seem as scary when you break it down the way Professor Simon has.
In conclusion Dr. Simon is an educator. She does this because she loves helping people and setting a good example for others. “Teacher” is one of the fundamental jobs of the United States. Without educators who know what society would look like. Simon takes pride in being a community leader. As former students of Simon, we can safely say she will do whatever it takes to have her students succeed. She is always available to give advice or answer any questions. In her class there is an open, family-like atmosphere that sets students up for optimal success. Dr. Jenni Simon is a great leader and a terrific role model to her students and community alike.
Nick Stankovic graduated from UNCG in 2021 with a Bachelors in Communication Studies. He credits Dr. Simon with helping him navigate the switch to online learning following the beginning of the COVID pandemic in the spring of 2020.
Blake Shoemaker graduated from UNCG in 2021 with a Bachelors in Communication Studies. She enjoyed her time in Dr. Simon’s class as it helped her develop her interests in working and interacting with people in a variety of roles.
Brady Shoemaker graduated from UNCG in 2021 with a Bachelors in Communication Studies. He says he benefited greatly from the example of Dr. Simon’s leadership during his time at UNCG.
Sara Manring graduated from UNCG in 2021 with a Bachelors in Communication Studies. She considers her time in Dr. Simon’s class to be one of her best experiences during her years at UNCG.