Professor LaPoe joined Ohio University fall of 2017 and became PRSSA’s advisor in the spring. Previously, she taught at Western Kentucky University and worked in newsrooms, television and consulting. Here are some questions to help you get to know her:
What are you most looking forward to with PRSSA this year?
Becoming more connected and being able to still let the students run the organization (and) just to get to know the students better and connect and see how I can help further the discussion of strategy.
What is your favorite thing about Athens?
I love Athens… I love that the outdoors is my playground. I love the localness of it and the music and just that people are very real here… people are very down to earth and it doesn’t matter what your last name is or what you do for a living. (They) care about people because they are people and that’s what I like about Athens compared to a lot of other places I have lived.
What do you like most about being a professor at OU?
I appreciate that Scripps allows me to be and figure out what I want to do. They don’t hover over you, they kind of say, “Okay, what are you interested in?” and they let you see where it fits and what you can do with it and they’re supportive with it. So, as a professor that is really helpful because it allows you to think and to not so much worry about pleasing people or doing what other people want, you really can explore options.
What do you like most about being PRSSA’s advisor?
I love students. I mean, that’s what I feel like I don’t even need to be paid for my job, I probably shouldn’t say that, but, I just like, I mean that’s what I feel like that’s what my life is just really dedicated to is students and so there’s nothing I would really rather do.
What attracted you to the communications field?
Well, I had an english teacher. I was really quiet, really shy. I don’t think I talked through high school, I don’t think I talked through undergrad, which is kind of funny I went into broadcasting, but I had an english teacher and I was in the seventh grade and I guess she knew I was really shy, or she saw something in me and she pulled me out to take me to this luncheon where it was to honor writing and to do different things and she just always took me and I don’t even know how that happened. Oh, I wrote a poem in her class that she liked. I remember now and she just, for like two years we did that and she really kind of said she saw something in me and that “You can do this and what you are doing is good.” … It was kind of like therapy for me in a lot of ways… my parents divorced when I was really young and a lot of writing helped me sort things and figure out things and so there was like this therapy aspect of it through my childhood where I’d write down things that happened and go back and try to understand and I really think that’s how I ended up being a journalist.
What inspired you to teach it?
Well I always liked students and I was working in consulting after working at a newspaper and then TV and I had just… It was like my first job out of college I had interned, I was paid so I guess it was kind of a work job, but anyway, I had been in newsrooms and I mean I was doing a lot of work and I enjoyed my work, but at the end of the day, I didn’t really feel like I was giving back the way I wanted to give back and there was a local high school where I was working in Iowa that was looking for someone to direct their high school plays and one of my coworkers’ wife worked at that high school and asked me if I would do it and it was like an insane amount of money, like $1,500 to direct a high school play and I am you know, poor college kid, you know, well I wasn’t a college kid but lots of student loans, etc. and I did it and I just loved it. I loved working with the students and it was an interesting experience because I had some teachers come to me and pulled me to the side because I wasn’t a teacher in the school and they were like “Well, we’ll tell you which students you don’t want to cast in the play,” and I was like “No.” and that was like, some of the quote-unquote kids that you know teachers were like might be more difficult or whatever those were the kids that I don’t know I loved working with everyone and I loved not having a bias and just seeing what students could do.
What is your favorite food and why?
I love Thai Paradise. I love Japanese, Thai, I think Thai food is my favorite so I love that there is a Ginger Kitchen like within a walk, but I do love, I am a vegan and so I do love Thai Paradise’s eggplant with brown rice, it’s delicious with tofu.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I live in Albany, so I have my dogs and my cats and my son. I have a 5-year-old. My husband and I we go canoeing a lot on the lakes. We probably hit five or six lakes in, we try to live sustainably where we catch, hunt or grow all of our own food. I am vegan so I am trying to grow food, but he tries to catch, I think he’s caught like 30 fish this summer. I am probably the only vegetarian with a fishing license in Athens, but I do it for him and we try to be like honoring of the lakes so we make sure that we don’t take too much and like, if they’re not the right size we put them back and so it’s a good learning experience for my son too to understand where food comes from and that we have to be thankful and that it’s not just you know, a surplus at Kroger. This is something life has essentially given to sustain you so it’s a cool like lesson I feel like.
What is the biggest piece of advice you can offer to aspiring communicators?
To listen. I think, well I guess two things: to listen and to have faith in yourself. Listening, you know, I think students probably do it better than non-students actually, but to really just don’t feel like you have to have everything figured out, like let things unfold and trust in yourself that you’re going to make good decisions and trust that things are going to unfold to the best of your ability as long as you try and do things healthy in your life and so that’s the biggest thing is to take deep breath, if you’re taking care of yourself, like mental health, physical health, you’re showing up to class, doing your internship, 99 percent of the time everything will work out and if you aren’t, if you have a bad day or anxiety or you’re partying too much, to just take that step back and get help. It’s fine to do that and because not until you have yourself okay will everything else be okay and so that’s the biggest thing students need to know and failure, it’s okay to screw up because sometimes we learn the most from our mistakes.
Margaret Mary Hicks is a senior strategic communication major with a certificate in Law, Justice and Culture as well as a certificate in Social Media. She is also the 2018-19 Scripps PRSSA VP of Finance.
Connect with her on Twitter @mmhicks19!