Meet your professor: Kelly Jo Wright


Zack Katz: What made you decide to become a professor?
Kelly Jo Wright: Oh gosh … well it started with my undergrad major, which was secondary education. I literally lucked into a graduate teaching assistant shift right as I was graduating from college. I had never thought about being a professor. I taught my first college class at 22, I had no idea what the hell I was doing, and it
was awesome.

ZK: You’ve taught a range of classes and class styles, what would you say is your favorite class to teach?
KJW: I love teaching CJ 314, which is a pop culture class, and I love it because pop culture constantly changes. So every semester, there are new video clips and stories, and it keeps me on my toes and connected to my students. I’m pretty up on the trends — I may or may not know all the lyrics to the new Eminem song.

ZK: Do you have a favorite classroom experience?
KJW: I had a girl in one of my public speaking classes, and I knew it was the third time she’d enrolled with me. She tossed it after about two weeks both times because she was so terrified. I knew she had to have the class to graduate and she was a senior. When she stood up and did her first speech, I could have cried. It was just a beautiful moment; that was pretty special for me.

ZK: Where would you be if you weren’t a professor at UW-Eau Claire?
KJW: I would probably be a costume designer. Isn’t that weird? Back about 20 years ago the university had a summer theatre program, and I was in the costume shop. I absolutely, completely fell in love with costuming. I’ve been known to make the occasional Ren-fest for someone, because I really enjoy the creative challenge of that.

ZK: If you were a student at Eau Claire, where do you think you would spend your time outside of class?
KJW: Probably, because I’m such a big nerd, in the dorms. But I would probably spend a lot of time on Water Street as well. I have to be honest about that.