Professor Jennie Harrop has a lengthy resume of professional accomplishments. She's written book reviews for a daily newspaper, directed the Virtual Learning Center, and taught literature, composition, creative writing, and apologetics at several universities.

Jennie is known for her adaptability, especially when it comes to serving others — which is why, this year, you will find her and several other Sherwood community members painting a mural at Cedar Creek Church, where she is a head pastor. 

Additionally, she is the associate dean of the Adult Degree Programs and an associate professor of professional studies at George Fox, where she started working in 2013. Following is a Q&A to get to know her better. 

Q: Why is working with the Adult Degree Program important to you?

I’ve taught traditional undergrad and graduate students, but I’ve really found a love for adult students because they’re a completely different population to work with. They are busy, with aging parents, career changes, children at home, and everything else that is going on in their lives, and yet they’ve chosen to invest in themselves by learning through these condensed, high-level courses.

Additionally, they’re constantly applying what they’re learning in the Adult Degree Program to the rest of their lives, and through that experience, they’re understanding the content at a much deeper level. Our students learn at a faster pace, a higher rigor, and at a much deeper level than any that I’ve ever walked with, and that’s really exciting. 

Q: What do you tell students who feel like they can’t do it? 

You are not alone in your self-doubts. On the first meeting of a class, it's common to be a little unsure — but once you get to know the people around you, there's a big sigh of relief, because you all have something in common: You're here because of your grit and determination.

Fun Fact: Jennie has been an adult student herself over the years. In fact, she earned her doctorate of ministry in semiotics & future studies, her doctorate of philosophy in English, her Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing, and her Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism. Whew! 

I’m proud that George Fox’s Adult Degree Program has a 90% completion rate, and that’s because we make sure our students are fully known through conversations like that. I understand that folks are coming from a variety of backgrounds, and supporting students in their lives beyond the classroom is extremely gratifying to me. 

Plus, if you are starting to get behind in your schoolwork, we have a team — including a registrar, our admissions team, online program directors, and myself — and every week, we talk about individual students and how we can best support them. We usually notice someone who is struggling within a week, and immediately begin encouraging them and designing a plan for them to get caught up.

Finding the balance between upholding high expectations and having grace with yourself can be difficult, but we are here to navigate that with you. 

Q: How has your faith impacted your time in the Adult Degree Program? 

I’m an ordained pastor, so it’s extremely enriching to be a part of a program where we get to bring the hope, joy, and love of Jesus Christ into our learning — but I do not walk into the classroom preaching.

"My hope is that by demonstrating the character of Christ, I can be a positive influence on their lives."

In the past, I have taught at secular institutions, where I had to be more careful talking about my faith. Yet even if I don’t mention it, I’ve had students ask me, “Are you one of those Sunday church-going people?” Despite not explicitly mentioning Christ or the Bible, the character of Christ can always be evident through our actions. 

I hope to continue following that principle in the classroom, and I love working at George Fox because of that. I get the opportunity to share my faith every day, even if sometimes those demonstrations might seem quieter. 

Q: What has been one of your favorite courses to teach in the Adult Degree Program? 

Two of the writing courses go hand-in-hand, and they were a joy for me to build because I’ve been teaching writing for many years, and I got to take everything that I’ve been teaching and condense it into these two courses.

The first course is Writing For Adults I (LACC 201), where we spend eight weeks constructing sentences and paragraphs. This is crucial not only so you can use them as building blocks to strengthen your essay writing, but also so you can have confidence with writing in the workplace.

For some students, this may sound like a review of prior knowledge, but the goal is to master the rules of English well enough to kindly teach it to someone else in the workplace. It might be easy to identify that something is wrong with a sentence, but having the tools to describe what exactly is wrong and how to fix it is a turning point in your writing skills.  

Fun Fact: Jennie worked as a crime and news reporter for The OregonianThe Chicago Tribune, and The Tacoma News Tribune in the 1980s and 1990s.

In Writing for Adults II (LACC 202), we extend those skills into essay writing. This is where you learn to persuade effectively while crafting proposals and assessments. We start small, with essays only a couple of pages long, but you can take those skills and expand them into 12 or 25 pages, or even a dissertation. 

Additionally, once you’ve completed these writing courses, you can take the Personal and Professional Assessment (PPA) course, where you earn your Prior Learning Credits

This course is another one of my favorites because we get to hear three different eight-page essays from every student, and each dives into a momentous time in their life. It can be cathartic for some students. Sometimes there are tears, and sometimes students fight the process because it’s difficult, but I love to walk alongside them through those difficulties because once they finish, they realize that it’s a whole new way of thinking about their lives. 

Learn more about the Adult Degree Program at George Fox University

As the dean of the Adult Degree Program, sometimes Jennie gets fun assignments, like talking about George Fox on the news! Watch her interview with KOIN, and learn all about the Adult Degree Program.

Watch video: Returning to School as an Adult is Possible: KOIN Interview | George Fox University

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