A simple Bible verse hangs on the office wall of Professor Laura Watkins, instructor of communications at UNW. Through this interview, I will learn that this verse describes the way Watkins holds herself. Her love of God is clearly communicated through her actions.
As we settle down for an interview, Watkins gets comfortable, a stack of papers in front of her from a previous class. A bowl of jellybeans sits next to them. As the interview takes off, her responses to the questions posed to her are thoughtful and from the heart.
Watkins started her education journey down the road at Bethel University studying Communication.
She started teaching in 1999 and has taught a range of communication and adult undergraduate classes classes including:
- Communication Theory
- Organizational Communication
- Research Methods
- Strategic Communication Planning
- Interpersonal Communication
- Intercultural Communication
- Technology and Communication
When asked about what she likes about teaching here at UNW, Watkins responds that she enjoys that “communication touches everything. You cannot, not communicate, and so, if it is in your personal life, or at work, or in sports relationships, running errands you’re always communicating.”
Additionally, Northwestern is a Christian university. So, Watkins can “share freely with my students in a very clear, overt way that we are communications and are in relationships because we are made in God’s image.” The environment of a Christian establishment allows her to share that personal and foundational element.
Faith is the foundation of Watkin’s life. Watkins grew up in a non-Christian household. She was a rule-following girl who read everything that she was assigned. She was always seeking God even if she didn’t fully know it yet. It wasn’t until college that she finally decided to follow Christ.
Having a background of a non-Christian household had allowed her to clearly see a difference that Christ makes. Watkins remarks that not be raised in a Christian family “makes it all the more precious to me now that I have it.”
Her faith allows her to share a big picture perspective with her students. Watkins wants them to know it’s not just about obtaining college credit – classes are about learning how to live in a way that honors Christ.
Watkins has a special and heartfelt message to communication students:
“Enjoy the journey that God has for you … communication is so much more open-ended. You can do anything from working in public relations to being a gaffer – and anything in between. So, enjoy the flexibility that you field has. There is so much more breadth of what you learn about and what you can do with it.”
Watkins has a couple hobbies as well: reading and “almost anything outdoors – from hiking to kayaking to rock climbing to running.” Although she loves her UNW students, her favorite students do not go here. They are at home, where she homeschools her five children.
Spending some time with Professor Watkins has allowed me to know her and her faith better. I encourage everyone to get to know her more.