Katrina Bell-Jordan – Inspiring Success

Jacklyn Nowotnik, Arts & Life Editor

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Katrina Bell-Jordan

Katrina Bell-Jordan is currently the Department Chair for the CMT department at NEIU. She has been at NEIU for almost 15 years and has taught numerous courses in the CMT department ranging from the 100 to 400 level. However, when asked about her career, Bell-Jordan will smile warmly and tell you that she didn’t initially set out to become a teacher.

Coming from a family of teachers, Bell-Jordan decided that she wanted to be different and received her B.S. in Journalism from the E.W. Scipps School of Journalism at Ohio University. She began writing for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the New York Daily News. In the midst of the headlines and deadlines, both her family and trusted colleagues advised her to continue her education while she could without losing her edge in the world of print.

Bell-Jordan said that while she didn’t expect a chance to complete her M.A. in Interpersonal Communication during her journalism career, it was “an opportunity too good to pass up.” After completing her M.A. at Ohio University, Bell-Jordan went into a PhD program and worked as a graduate teaching associate.

This academic experience exposed Bell-Jordan to the impact a teacher can make on the lives of students and instilled in her a desire to teach media and communications. In 1997, Bell-Jordan began teaching as an assistant professor of Communications at NEIU and became one of the strongest assets NEIU has to offer.

As a teacher, the sincerity Bell-Jordan displays when teaching and her ability to connect and relate to students of all ages even after moving into a more administrative position has kept her classes in high demand and her department positively motivated to both serve and support students.

Her academic peers hold her in equally high esteem. Dr. Adams, a CMT professor at NEIU, described Bell-Jordan as “unique, equitable, a hard worker, a visionary, and a compassionate leader.” Dr. Mun, another CMT professor at NEIU said “She is a really professional person. As a human being.” Dr. Mun went on to say “She’s really friendly and when people ask for help she’s really supportive and tries to understand their situation in their shoes. So I really like that.”

Dr. Mun’s statement of Bell-Jordan definitely rings true in her classes as she brings to the class her experience, expertise and questions dealing with media. Her classes involve a very conversational style in which she brings up questions related to the class material, which allows her students to openly and critically think about the subject matter. In her classes, Bell-Jordan encourages students to think a little further into the matter and really connect what they learn to their daily lives.

Aside from academics and publishing, Bell-Jordan also conducted research in the areas of race and representation in the media, Black popular culture, identity politics and comedic performance. When asked why she was interested in researching those topics she said that it was a “natural extension of who I am, and the kind of questions I asked about the media.” She also added that “I am a consumer, I like pop culture like everybody else, and I think popular culture is such a reflection of who we are in terms of a nation, in terms of the west, and it was a way for me to express my social interests that were fun and interesting to me.”

When asked what she would like her students to take away from her classes, Bell-Jordan said the she wanted them to have the ability and tools to question and read everything in the spirit of learning. She would like her students to apply those tools to their lives and become more critical consumers. Bell-Jordan also expressed that the CMT department just went through a year-long program review, which assess how well the department is doing. She hopes the CMT department will “maintain the level of engagement that our students have in what they’re doing in our classrooms, continue to see our curriculum grow, continue to attract really talented faculty, support the good work that is being done and to look for ways to serve our students even better.”

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