Helping Students Find Their Voice

Gina Jensen - Assistant Director of Forensics and Debate; Adjunct Faculty

Gina Jensen, MA

Adjunct faculty member, Communications and Journalism
Assistant director, Forensic and Debate team
School of Communications

“We know our students on a personal level. We know their stories. We know how to help them succeed."

Gina Jensen teaches speech communications and coaches Webster’s national award-winning Forensic and Debate team. Her passion for this field began in undergrad when she had plans to go to law school – until the excitement of teaching lured her in a new direction. Heavily involved in her field, she is past president of Pi Kappa Delta, the nations’ oldest forensic (speech and debate) organization, current director of publications for Speech and Theatre of Missouri and secretary-treasurer for the Missouri Association of Forensic Activities.


How would you describe your teaching style?

I make every effort to teach to multiple learning styles. I encourage and facilitate in-class discussion, utilize in-class activities and incorporate some lecture. I do what I can to create a classroom of cooperative learning in which I teach and facilitate, but also learn. 

What motivates you?

I am motivated by helping students find their voices.  I love teaching students to think and analyze critically, and to help them better express themselves.  I have been fortunate to watch countless students on their journey of discovery of a person they may have never known themselves to be. Seeing a student find their voice, and build the confidence and ability to express it, really motivates me. 


Gina Jensen - Assistant Director of Forensics and Debate; Adjunct Faculty

What makes teaching at Webster distinctive?

I have always loved teaching at Webster. I believe that we have unique students who work hard and bring a lot to the table. I also believe in “the Webster Way.”

At Webster, we care about knowing who our students are and connecting with them. We want them to succeed and we know it is our job to help them find that success. We know them on a personal level. We know more than their names; we know their stories. This is my 20th year at Webster, and it is these things that keep me coming back each year with the enthusiasm I had when it was my first.

What is the focus of your scholarship?

My greatest teaching interests are nonverbal communication, relational dynamics, and effective listening as communication. My research is generally in the area of forensic and debate pedagogy and competitive practice.    

What are you most curious about?

With the Forensic and Debate Team, I am very interested in argumentation.  Since we are in an election cycle, I am currently very curious about who our next president will be…and what will transpire as we move toward that decision as a country.

What is your favorite travel destination?

I love Hawaii. It feels like paradise to me. Not only is it very beautiful, but it also fulfills my love for warm weather and the ocean. 

What's always in your suitcase?

I wish that I could say that I had something exciting that I carried with me, but I would have to say that I keep my computer with me so that I can stay on top of grading and in touch with students. I also always have a tall can of hairspray. As a former big hair 80’s girl, I never gave up the hairspray!

Gina Jensen - Assistant Director of Forensics and Debate; Adjunct Faculty

Forensic & Debate: 'It's Like Getting an Extra Degree'

In this interview for Webster's Galaxy Radio, hear Jensen describe what forensics and debate is all about, and how it helps students looking at law school, acting, speech, business and much more to augment their major.

How do you translate your passion in life to the classroom?

My greatest love in life is my family and being a parent. The unconditional love our family feels for one another, and the support we show in times of challenge or success are tremendous blessings. I am thrilled when the dynamics of a  classroom and its students reflect this kind of support and concern. I love to see the students supporting one another and working together. I do what I can to facilitate that kind of interdependence in each of my classes.

What is your superpower?

My superpower is being the vessel through which students find their voices. My other superpower is being a somewhat overzealous but unashamedly loving and passionate mother and wife.

Who is the person, living or dead, you most admire?

The person I most admire is the former director of Forensics and department chair of the School of Communication at Southwest Baptist University, Dr. Bob Derryberry. Dr. Derryberry passed away six years ago, but he left me and countless others with innumerable lessons that I will never forget.

He was a gentle giant—a man who was extremely successful while indescribably humble, well loved by all who knew him, and a kind and caring leader. His strength was in his ability to quietly but definitely balance his convictions with a respect for difference, and in seeing the value in everyone he knew. He was my mentor, and I model much of my leadership style off of his. 

What three words best describe you?

Dedicated. Caring. Hard-working.


 

Communications & Journalism

To find out more about communications and journalism programs as well as the Webster Forensics and Debate team, follow the links below.

Academic Programs
Forensics & Debate Team
School of Communications
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