Meet Your Professor: Theresa Walsh

Meet Your Professor: Theresa Walsh

Recruiting students from across the U.S., Campus is the new alternative to online community college. Our online associate degree in business program consists of 100% live, online classes taught by professors who also teach at top-ranked colleges and universities. Read on to learn more about our talented teaching team.

Theresa Walsh is a remarkable figure in the field of education and writing. In addition to holding the position of a full-time lecturer at UC Davis, she also teaches students in our online associate degree in business program. With experience in educating students in remote settings, Walsh continues to play a vital role in ensuring the success of her students nationwide.

Throughout her career, Walsh has demonstrated her expertise by teaching more than 20 different writing- and language-focused courses across a range of modalities, from in-person to remote. Beyond teaching students, she also undertook the task of reviewing a book that delves into the realm of rhetorical work in emergency medical services in 2019.

As a community college graduate, Walsh approaches instruction with the students’ perspectives in mind. Her unique background and dedication to fostering growth make her a truly supportive and relatable educator.

Experience as a Community College Student

Walsh has an interesting story of entering college that many students might relate to. She explained to Campus that her high school education didn’t adequately prepare her for higher education.

“I didn't understand why I should go to college when I graduated from high school,” Walsh stated. “And I didn't. I tried a couple of times because that was what everybody was doing, but I did not do well. And then I was like, ‘this just is not for me,’ so I went to work.”

Once she graduated from high school, she spent several years earning on-the-job experience in different roles. Walsh primarily worked at hotel front desks, though she also gained experience in baking and candy making.

Not long after, she decided to try attending community college again in her twenties. What had changed her mind?

“I was more mature and it made more sense to me,” she said. “I saw a lot of capable and intelligent people doing the hard work of running a hotel, but the only way to advance in a hotel is to become a manager or a director, and then you live there. And I was like, ‘I don't want to live here. I want to have a world, a home, a life of my own.’”

Walsh opted to enroll in a local community college alongside her mother, but going back to college came with its own set of obstacles.

“It was harder for me,” she noted. “It was more of a challenge for me to go back at that time because you start working, and you get used to it. Then you're working while you're in school, and it's a totally different ballgame.”

Even so, Walsh stepped up to the plate, pursued her associate degree at De Anza College, and embraced every opportunity she came across in her college journey.

Professor Fun Fact: As part of pursuing her Ph.D. in Technical Communication and Rhetoric, Walsh’s research for her dissertation focuses on exploring the potential of utilizing standup comedy to strengthen the cultural humility and training of health professionals. “By talking about getting a prostate exam, vaccines, and all sorts of stuff that people are hesitant and uncomfortable with, [comedians] can humanize it. They make it something that people can all kind of relate to.”

Finding a Love for Communication and Writing

Like many students, Walsh took time to really discover what she was passionate about. However, one thing was clear to her. She shared with us, “The idea of being able to connect with people through language was really, really important to me and all the time that I was growing up.”

When we asked about her passion for writing and rhetoric, Walsh reminisced on some of her childhood memories and how they revealed her ongoing appreciation for interpersonal communication. Growing up, whenever her mother was sick, she would spend time with her grandparents and watch old movies.

“They [the movies] would have conversations that were so well crafted,” she shared with a smile. “I mean, it was written, but they were so well crafted that a lot of times that was how conflict was averted and how people understood each other.”

One of the final pieces of the puzzle that helped Walsh to discover her passion for communication and writing finally came together as she sought out opportunities in her undergraduate journey. Despite her lack of confidence upon returning to school, she was recommended by her teachers to become a tutor. She started as a biology tutor, which she found enjoyable and educational because it allowed her to expand her knowledge of the subject. However, after receiving an endorsement to be a tutor for an English class focused on writing and literature, Walsh found her calling.

“I realized that it was writing that I liked,” she expressed. ”I like to work with people on their writing and communicating what they mean. I loved learning the frameworks and the concepts; I loved reading the literature, but it was really working with individuals and asking questions like, ‘Well, what do you mean here?’ and talking it out. That was, I think, the way that it grew.“

While in graduate school, Walsh began navigating online education as an instructor in the 2011-12 school year. She taught a co-curricular online course for first-year writing students. Reflecting on the teaching experiences of online modality at the time, Walsh recalled how chaotic it felt.

“I was doing these additional units, and it was like the Wild West. Nobody really knew what to do,” she pointed out. “Then I started teaching in hybrid courses at UC Davis, and there wasn't a lot of structure on that either. I sort of was figuring all that out on my own.”

Joining UC Davis’s University Writing Program in the following years also brought on a set of chances for growth and development in hybrid spaces. Leveraging her experience from graduate school and UC Davis’s hybrid models, Walsh obtained a new role in 2019 as the assistant director for online writing instruction at the university. Yet only a year later, when the pandemic hit, everything changed.

“It was the job of me and the associate director to support people transitioning and pivoting into emergency remote instruction,” Walsh told Campus. “It was like a different era in learning. Students didn't choose to be online and in the emergency remote instruction situation.”

With the rapid shift to remote online instruction, it became clear to Walsh that the lack of resources and access became significant issues for her students.

“You couldn't teach because some people didn't have WiFi, and some of them didn’t even have laptops. A lot of students were working their campus LMS [learning management system] on their phones,” she said. “Access became a real issue.”

Addressing the issues surrounding access to higher education can help students across the country find their unique growth opportunities, but as Walsh told us, educators should also be conscious of how they share their learning materials. Historically, she pointed out to us, online learning has a bad reputation because many people may not know how it can be a real asset to students.

“My take on online learning is that it is largely misunderstood,” Walsh stated. “I think that there are a lot of people who misunderstand what great online learning can do for people, how many people it can reach, and how much community it can build. I think the potential is outrageous and it could be really world-changing.”

Why Campus?

Seeing the opening at Campus for teaching community college students online, Walsh viewed it as a great way to help students because, well, she’s been in a similar position before.

“I relate a lot, I think, to the students at Campus,” she shared. “I understand, too, from the student perspective, the value and the importance of having strong professors in your first two years.”

What’s more, Walsh was inclined to join our amazing Campus faculty because our mission for addressing accessibility in higher education spoke to her experience as an instructor for remote and hybrid students.

“I was talking to the person who had reached out to me initially, and they were like, ‘Here's what we do at Campus. We give everyone a laptop if they need it, and everybody gets a WiFi hotspot if they need it, so that they have access to the things we have. We have a website that we are tailoring for these students, too,’ and I thought, ‘this was the answer to so many of my personal stresses as a teacher,’” she recalled. “Campus is a place that creates opportunities for students to do the things that I did when I went back to school, with a true lens of accessibility on it.”

Though what really assured Walsh of her decision to join Campus is the progress that we make every day to try to improve the education we offer our students. Offering students the physical tools they need to attend school is a great place to start, but it’s not where our efforts to support students stop. As Walsh told us, “We're all still learning about teaching online, and Campus is constantly improving. That's how I know in a lot of ways that Campus is the real deal.“

The Smart Way to Launch Your College Career

The Campus online associate degree in business program helps students knock out the first two years of college and supports them as they prepare for life after graduation.

Want to attend classes led by mission-driven educators like Theresa Walsh? Apply now to be part of the next trailblazing cohort of the Campus program today.

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