Being a student in a public speaking class is a source of fear for many, but for those who find themselves in the classroom of Professor Michelle Altieri that anxiety is quickly turned to ease.
"The first day is always the hardest – standing up alone and walking to the front of the room with 20 pairs of eyes staring at you. But each time gets a little bit less stressful, and the more you get to know your audience, the easier it is to breathe and survive the communication apprehension," notes Altieri.
Altieri joined the Department of Communication at County College of Morris (CCM) in 2008 as an instructor after earning her Masters of Arts in Communication from Illinois State University (ISU).
Her passion for communication grew from her travels to France, Switzerland, Austria and Italy as a People to People Ambassador while in high school. In her senior year, she continued her travels abroad to Greece, and the summer following her graduation she traveled to Germany.
“It opened my eyes to the greater world, as well as to the importance of effective communication between people,” she recalls.
In high school, she also interned for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, a nonprofit organization. As
a college student, she participated in several conferences serving on panels and giving presentations including the International Communication Association Conference, National Communication Association Conference and the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology Political Engagement Project Lecture Series.
Her extensive experience and dedication to her studies earned her the Graduate Student Service Award in 2008 from ISU School of Communication Graduate Student Association and her article Examining the Relationship Between Attitudes and Relationship Satisfaction in Romantic Partners and Platonic Dyads was ranked Top Student Paper under the interpersonal division by the National Communication Association in 2007.
Not only was Altieri an avid writer and scholar in college, she was a graduate assistant too, which is when she discovered how much she enjoyed teaching. While at ISU, she also interned at Caterpillar Inc. where she gained valuable insight into the world of corporate communication.
“After having experienced both the nonprofit world and corporate world, I realized I wanted to remain in academia,” says Altieri
Along with teaching public speaking, Altieri teaches introduction to communication, and speech fundamentals and interpersonal communication at CCM.
“I really enjoy what I do at CCM and like to focus on ways of improving my teaching techniques to help my students understand what they are learning,” she says.
As a professor, she constantly seeks to relate the subject material to present day life to help her students understand the material. She adds that she knows she has done her job well when students realize what they are learning relates to the real world and will benefit them in their future.
The most rewarding moments, she says, are “When students get it.”