EU Alumni Perspective: Adrienne S. Garvey
Name: Adrienne S. Garvey (Williams was my maiden name)
Graduation Year: 1998
Major: BA in Communication Studies
Current Position: Associate Professor of Broadcasting and Journalism at Southeastern University
City and State: Lakeland, Florida
Tell us about your career and what you do now.
I started my career at KSPR-TV in Springfield. I landed that job as a result of a very successful internship. I was hired as a reporter/assignment editor the spring of my senior year, so I was working on air as talent before I graduated. After about six months at KSPR, I took a job working in public relations at Assemblies of God Headquarters in Springfield. I wanted to try another career option in the communication field. I quickly learned it was not for me. News was in my blood. I then took a job as a news producer at KODE-TV in Joplin, MO. I worked there as a producer for a year then went back on air as a reporter at the station for a year. At that point, I had to decide whether I wanted to be behind the scenes or in front of the camera. I chose behind the scenes and applied for a producing job at WGAL-TV in Lancaster, PA. That’s the station I watched growing up and is one of the top-rated television stations in the country. It was my dream job. I started working there in February of 2001. In May of 2009, I graduated from Kutztown University in Kutztown, PA, with my Master of Science in Electronic Media degree. I was still working at WGAL at the time. I worked there for ten years before the Lord called me to be home more with my young children. My final year at the station was as the assignment manager. I was in charge of the daily functions of the newsroom, playing a key role in logistical decisions as to what stories we would cover and who would cover them. I was the only woman on a team of seven managers in a newsroom with a staff of nearly 100 employees. Leaving that job was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do but I knew what the Lord was calling me to do. I left the news business at the end of 2010. Over the next seven years, as I was home with my kids, the Lord opened the door for me to start teaching broadcasting and writing courses at two local universities as an adjunct. I fell in love with teaching. This is something I would not have been able to do had I not been obedient to the Lord’s leading to get my master’s degree. It’s not a degree I needed professionally. It was more of a personal goal. In hindsight, I see the Lord’s hand in that leading and in the timing. In 2014, I again felt the Lord’s prompting to go back to school, this time for a PhD in Communication at Regent University in Virginia Beach, VA. A doctorate was not something I had ever planned to pursue but when the Lord calls you, obedience is always the best response. So, I started in the program. While I was in school, an opportunity to teach full-time at Southeastern University in Lakeland, FL opened. Again, a move to Florida was not in our plan as a family but the Lord made it abundantly clear this was something we were to do. We moved south in the summer of 2017 when I took my first full-time teaching job leading the Broadcasting and Digital Journalism degrees. I completed my PhD in Communication in March of 2021 and have advanced from Assistant Professor of Broadcasting and Journalism to Associate Professor of Broadcasting and Journalism at Southeastern University.
I also have a heart for serving journalists in terms of caring for their mental health. After covering the Amish school shooting in 2006, I experienced some emotional fallout I had never experienced before. My master’s thesis was a case study of our newsroom’s managerial response to the effect the shooting had on employees. What I learned was that there is very little mental healthcare for journalists, despite the fact that they are often on the front lines of traumatic events, just like first responders. That led me to get my chaplaincy with Christ in Action out of Virginia. My research in this area has won two first-place awards with the Broadcast Education Association (BEA). I have also presented my research on trauma and journalism at the BEA/NAB Convention as well as with the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC). My research focus eventually honed in on coping mechanisms. We will not be able to change the fact that journalists face traumatic events. We can, however, help them find healthy and effective coping mechanisms. My dissertation was a study of the use of comfort dogs as a coping mechanism in an Orlando newsroom following the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016. The dogs are a new tool being used in newsrooms. Until my dissertation was published, there was no available academic research on the use of the dogs in newsrooms.
What is your favorite memory from Evangel?
I have so many I’m not sure I can choose just one. From midnight bowling, pizza at Breadeaux with friends, spelunking in local caves, barn swinging, football games, and Mexican Villa, it’s a tough decision. All that said, I think I have to go with my time in the television station on campus. It’s where I found what I loved to do. It’s where I found my calling and some of my dearest friends to this day. I anchored NewsWatch for two years. When I initially applied to be a reporter for NewsWatch, I wanted nothing to do with broadcasting because the equipment scared me, but my Communication Studies degree required me to take the courses. When I tried anchoring and was successful, it greatly built my confidence, which gave me the courage to try something new. Other students on the team became close friends. I quickly saw how a news team relies on one another like family. Once I was in the professional world of news, I saw that what I experienced in the television station at Evangel was just like what happened in the professional world of broadcast news. My boyfriend at the time, Jerry Garvey ‘97 (now my husband of almost 23 years), also proposed to me while I was anchoring in the studio at Evangel in January of my senior year. I had always hoped he would propose like that but never told anyone. He just knew the television station was special to me; it was part of who I had become while at Evangel.
How did Evangel help you identify/develop your calling?
Having the television station was amazing hands-on experience I needed to be successful not only in my internship but also in my professional career. However, I would be remis if I did not mention the professors and their influential voice in my professional development. Mrs. Shirley Shedd was my faculty advisor. She became a wonderful sounding board for me in professional and personal development. Dr. Cameron Pace pushed me to be better. He refined my skill to make sure I was ready for the professional world. Dr. Norma Champion played a significant role in helping me develop my performance skills on air. I think it was during my senior year I was awarded the top student for performance skills in the Communication Department. I owed that growth to her classes and guidance. Each of the professors grew me in their own way. They are a godly, caring group of professionals. It was an honor to learn from them.
How did your experience at Evangel prepare you for life after graduation?
Having student media on which to work was a significant factor in my success. I started working on The Lance as a freshman. I advanced to the assistant features editor. I wrote stories for news and features but I also had my own column that focused on taking difficult situations and finding the positive in them. That helped grow my personal and spiritual maturity. I started to see how the Lord uses trials to build our faith and was able to communicate that to readers. I was there for the late-night layouts, which were hard work but were also a great time of bonding for the newspaper team. There was always lots of laughter while we were working. Not having a professor there looking over our shoulders the whole time was valuable. It was a safe space in which to make mistakes and learn. It gave those of us in leadership positions opportunities to grow. As all professionals know, the working world is not always as patient. Being able to get my hands on television gear right away gave me the confidence to do a job that initially looked very intimidating. The media industry is also quite diverse. I had to learn how to work as a Christian in an industry that may not be especially welcoming to someone with conservative religious convictions. What I learned at Evangel was to treat everyone with kindness and respect. I don’t have to take them all to the throne of God. Sometimes I’m just planting a seed and kindness is the best way to do that.
What advice would you give a current student preparing for the workforce?
Do an internship! When you’re in the internship, give more than is expected of you. I spent more time at my internship than I was required to spend for the credits I was earning. The news director took notice of that work ethic and offered me a job for which I did not apply before I graduated. It’s extremely rare to find yourself on air in a city the size of Springfield at the age at which I started. Work ethic will take you far. It’s also a great example of doing everything for the glory of God. Colossians 3:23-24 tells us to work for the Lord, not for man. In 1 Corinthians 15:58, we are instructed to work hard for the Lord’s glory, and we will not labor in vain. If you keep the Lord at the center of your career, trust Him when He tells you to move, you will never be disappointed. In fact, on the other side of those steps of faith He will ask you to take, you will love and trust Him more deeply than ever before, making you a better witness to others.
What would you look for if you were in a position to hire new graduates from Evangel?
Work ethic is a significant indicator of future success. If I see you are willing to work hard, I’m much more likely to give you a shot at a job opening I have available. Starting out in any business will probably mean doing a job that includes tasks that feel menial. However, when someone is willing to do everything that is asked of them with a good attitude, they are much more likely to advance in that career. I also look for kindness in a person’s demeanor. Can they treat others kindly and work well in a group? Being able to be a team player can be the key to success in the communication industries. I want to see that applicants are firm in their faith. That does not mean they are preaching in the office. It means they live with integrity, honesty, and display other traits of Jesus.