JMC Professor Jacqueline Marino wins Distinguished Teaching Award

Marino teaches feature writing and business of publishing. 

When journalism professor Jacqueline Marino spent the semester as part of Kent State’s Washington Program in National Issues, she knew she was meant to be a journalist. 

Marino teaches in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and while her passion lies in writing, she began her education studying political science. It wasn’t until she spent a semester in Washington, D.C., that she found a calling for journalism.

“I was so blown away by the journalists that I met,” Marino said. “It’s writing about stuff that really matters.”

During her time in Washington, Marino called Kent State and changed her major to journalism and started taking journalism classes as soon as she returned. 

After graduating in 1994, Marino worked in San Francisco as a VISTA Volunteer, working for the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts for a year. 

Marino wasn’t involved in journalism after graduation, missed it horribly and began freelancing. 

While freelancing, Marino was published in the Christian Science Monitor, the Washington Post and Cleveland Magazine.

After a year in San Francisco, Marino received a phone call from a colleague who worked for the Memphis Flyer in Tennessee and asked if she wanted a job as a staff writer. 

After three years in Tennessee, Marino moved back to Cleveland to write for the Cleveland Scene, where she met her husband, Mark Naymik. 

“She’s motivated and I think people that have ambition are really important and always attractive,” Naymik said. 

Together Marino and Naymik have two kids.

“My wife definitely tries to be a parent and really connect with them on an emotional level and let them be who they’re going to be,” Naymik said. “She’s really on top of it.”  

Marino’s teaching career began at Johns Hopkins in 2001. She received a teaching fellowship while working on her master’s degree. While she has developed a passion for teaching, Marino said she did not have an easy start. 

“I was thinking, how hard could it be? We’re teaching the stuff we know,” Marino said. “It was so hard.”

Johns Hopkins is best known for its medical school and because of this, she had a hard time getting her students engaged in writing. 

“They’re headed toward engineering or medicine. They were really not interested in writing,” Marino said. 

When it came time for her evaluation, Marino’s score was not what she expected. 

“If you were to just look at that evaluation, there’s no way you would think this person is going to make teaching a career,” Marino said. “There were only two items I did well on and 12 that needed improvement.” 

While Marino was only required to teach for a semester, she chose to return for a second semester because she liked the challenge, she said. 

“I figured it out,” Marino said. “I figured out how to have conversations with students and how to relate to them and how to make the material relate to them.” 

After Johns Hopkins, Marino began teaching at Baldwin Wallace and ended up back at her alma mater, Kent State, in 2006. 

“I had an affinity for this place because I feel like I got a very good journalism education here,” Marino said. “I had great colleagues when I was here. I knew the students here would be great.”

Before she began at Kent State, Marino said she had felt  her routine in the classroom was repetitive. She was always teaching the same classes each semester. 

“Here, they wanted to really develop me as a professor. … I had to teach different classes regularly,” Marino said. 

Kent State also requires faculty to do research and service work outside of teaching. 

While Marino is teaching she is also working on her research. She is currently working on studying the digital evolution of storytelling and how the format of long-form journalism is changing to fit the digital space. 

“There was a lot of integration of multimedia elements that were relatively seamless. … It was really strong interactive graphics and beautiful narrative in videos that just sort of played as you got to the right place,” Marino said. 

The transition into Kent State from her previous teaching positions proved to be more difficult than Marino thought. 

“I think it was just hard managing all of that in the first year or so. Then you learn how to say no and it gets way easier,” Marino said. 

When students walk into a class taught by Marino, they can expect an environment where they are supported and challenged to be better writers.

“Going into her class and having such positive vibes throughout the day, it’s just very helpful because life’s hard and you know it’s going to be OK,” said Sara Crawford, a junior journalism major.

In the classroom, Marino works to create a connection with her students to help them improve their writing. 

“I really get to know my students and spend a lot of time on their writing,” Marino said. “By the second draft, without their names on it, I could tell whose draft it was. I know their writing well enough.”

Her goal for all of her classes are to make the students feel like they have become better writers. Students who have Marino in class feel that she cares for her students and wants them to succeed. 

“Expect a great professor who’s into pretty much any idea you have and willing to meet with you in office hours and just expect a good atmosphere,” said Brandon Lewis, a junior journalism major. 

Incorporating personal experience into the classroom is one of Marino’s techniques for creating an involved classroom environment. 

“Any time I bring in any of my own writing or any of my own experiences, it’s got to be relevant to the class,” Marino said. 

Along with being a full-time professor, Marino is also the faculty adviser to The Burr and A Magazine, two student-run magazines. 

“She’s definitely very helpful with everything,” said Crawford, who is also the senior editor for The Burr.

The award was presented to Marino during her feature writing class, where she was surprised with the announcement.

“It was funny because she was like, ‘Oh, I don’t deserve this,’ and we told her that she does deserve this award,” Lewis said. 

Marino was previously nominated for the Distinguished Teaching Award (DTA) in 2013, but did not win.

“It was a little bit heartbreaking, but I really didn’t think I would get it because it’s just such a pinnacle,” Marino said. 

When Marino found out she had a nomination this year, she worked hard to win, she said. 

She is one of three winners of the 2019 DTA. Other winners include Patrick Gallagher, an associate professor in the department of modern and classical language studies, and Rachael Blasiman, an assistant professor in the department of psychology at the Kent State Salem Campus.

When Marino received the award, she said she felt overjoyed at the accomplishment. 

“These are faculty that are really committed to their profession and committed to students,” said Amy Reynolds, dean of the College of Communication and Information. “I think that’s what you see with this award.”

The award is student-nominated and sponsored by the Kent State Alumni Association. The Alumni Association then chooses finalists who must create a packet for the board to review.

This is the third time this decade a JMC professor has earned the DTA.

“It’s the most meaningful award I’ve ever received,” Marino said. “To know that someone was changed for the better in my class they felt like they needed to write something for me to get an award. That means so much to me.”

Contact Katie Thompson at [email protected]