From learning to leading

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Memories flood her mind sometimes as she walks across campus or teaches in certain classrooms.

Amber Gloystein Messersmith, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication, was herself once a UNK student. She returned to teach in 2010.

“Honestly, it’s been wonderful,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed seeing the many aspects that have changed in the nearly 11 years since I was last on campus. UNK becomes an even higher quality institution every year. There are new courses, activities, programs and facilities I would have loved to take advantage of as a student.”

But, she said, it’s been comforting to see that not everything’s changed. UNK remains exceptionally committed to giving students a positive college experience.

“Professors have a bigger role in that than I ever realized as an undergrad,” she said, “despite the fact that I greatly benefited from their behind-the-scenes efforts. Many of the faculty I had at UNK helped me begin to understand the role of a professor – they made the career attractive to me.”

Dr. Bill Jurma encouraged her to consider grad school. She worked with him during her senior year, during her Honors Program Capstone Project.

Messersmith, who’s on maternity leave this semester, graduated with a degree in organizational communication in May 2001. She received her master’s and doctorate degrees at the University of Kansas, then took her first faculty position at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va. She returned to UNK in August 2010 along with her husband, Jake, who is a management professor at UNK.

As a student, she was involved in Alpha Omicron Pi Sorority, Mortar Board, Chancellor’s Ambassadors, Diplomats, Summer Advising and Enrollment, Student Government, UNK Honors Program, Gold Torch Society, Leadership Development Council and Student Alumni Foundation. She received the Mary Jane and William R. Nester Student Leadership Award. She was Outstanding Senior for the Department of Communication. She gave the Senior Class Response at Honors Convocation.

She studied late many nights at her sorority, in study sessions with sisters that often turned into chatting – “or running to get a midnight snack.”

Students know she can relate to many of their experiences on campus and in classes, she said, particularly in her department. She understands the vernacular, many of the events and to an extent, the student culture on campus.

“Sometimes they’ll ask about what I was involved in or how UNK is different now,” she said. “It gives us something of significance in common. It’s been fun to become involved in some of the same organizations again, now in a different capacity. For example, I am senior advisor for Mortar Board and have helped as an alum at AOII.

“It has been fun to reconnect with faculty and staff I knew as a student. I’m proud to be here again.”

Supporting the best and brightest faculty members – professors like the University of Nebraska at Kearney’s Amber Messersmith – is a priority of the Campaign for Nebraska. If you’d like to help, please give online or contact the University of Nebraska Foundation at 800-432-3216.

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