This is a story I published on March 28, 2016. It’s about Professor Jennifer Mercieca, who won a Distinguished Achievement Award for going above and beyond in teaching her classes:
Jennifer Mercieca, an associate professor in the Department of Communication, has been selected by the Association of Former Students to receive the 2016 Distinguished Achievement Award for teaching.
“It’s humbling,” she said. “I feel very overwhelmed and honored.”
Mercieca has been at Texas A&M for 13 years teaching undergraduate courses and graduate seminars, where she focuses on the relationship between communication and politics.
To her, teaching is more than a multiple choice test. She tries to make her classes as dynamic and engaging as possible. Students under Mercieca’s tutelage write speeches for their congressman to give, or build talking points for a candidate’s election campaign, or become deputized to register people to vote.
“What I try to do is provide opportunities for students to engage with theory but also to get practice in various aspects of communication,” Mercieca said. “So, even if it’s something like a historical event, I design courses where students actually debate, for example, whether or not we should commit treason on July 2, 1776, as if we were those people. We would recreate that town hall meeting and debate as if we only knew what they [American revolutionaries] knew at the time.”
She has also expanded her style of teaching beyond the classroom. She is the director of Aggie Agora, an organization meant to facilitate discourse and civic engagement on A&M’s campus and the surrounding area. Aggie Agora hosts seminars and workshops from faculty and people from all political walks of life.
Mercieca is one of three faculty members from Liberal Arts to received a Distinguished Achievement Award: Darryl de Ruiter, professor of Anthropology, and Eduardo Espina, professor of Hispanic Studies, were both honored for their research. All winners will receive their awards at 1:30 p.m. on April 25 in Rudder Theatre. In recognition of their achievements each recipient will receive a cash gift, an engraved watch, and a commemorative plaque.
Mercieca received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of the Pacific, in 1995 and 1997, respectively. She then went on to earn her Ph. D. at the University of Illinois in 2003.