By Allison Arnold, public relations student
The Journalism, Public Relations & New Media Department is welcoming two new, but familiar faces in the 2017-2018 school year. Bruce Gietzen and Amber Adamson bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with the students of the department.
Gietzen serves as director of student publications, meaning he oversees the Baylor Lariat, Round Up yearbook Focus Magazine, and LTVN (Lariat TV). In his new role, Gietzen has proven to be passionate about preparing his students for the “real world.”
“When you get out of college and get a job, your boss is going to want the shortest learning curve possible,” Gietzen said. “They’re going to want you to start contributing as quickly as possible.”
Gietzen has gained a lot of experience himself from being in the broadcast news and sports industry for several years.
“I wanted a job strictly sports reporting and anchoring getting out of college and nobody wanted to give me that, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise,” Gietzen said. “I had three job offers right out of college because they were all news, but I wanted to do something with sports.”
Gietzen eventually was offered a job in Wichita Falls that allowed him to be a news reporter during the week and a weekend sports anchor. After working there for two and a half years, he gained a lot of experience and a good understanding of what working in the media looked like.
Gietzen moved to Salt Lake City for five years, and then Houston where he stayed for 14 years. Half of his time there was spent working at the No. 1 news station in Houston, KTRK, and the other half he spent as a member of the broadcast team for the Houston Astros and Houston Rockets.
“You know every day how you did in this business at 5, 6 and 10 o’clock,” Gietzen said. “Each newscast was like a canvas where you painted a picture. And sometimes you would be working on two canvases at once.”
Gietzen left the business for six to seven years, but decided to get back into it when offered a job at KXXV in Waco. While working there, his wife encouraged him to teach, since he excelled as serving as a mentor to many younger reporters. He called Baylor and told them if they needed an adjunct professor, he would be interested. He received a call back that same day, asking him to send his resumè.
Gietzen taught two classes for four years at Baylor and thoroughly enjoyed seeing his students improve at writing. After leaving to serve as director of communications at Waco ISD, Gietzen received a call in March saying there was a job open as director of student publications at Baylor.
“I like my job because it is almost like I am in a newsroom situation again, and mentoring students, especially the broadcast journalism students where I can share knowledge and experience a little bit of deadline pressure,” Gietzen said. “It’s been really great. The students are hungry to know more and to get better and our number one job is to help students get ready to get a job when they get out of college. We get to prepare them. This is a fun job that I am in, and the job they are going to get in when they get into TV and news is unique and exhilarating at times and pressure-filled at times and frustrating at times. But it’s really cool.”
Adamson also has begun her journey as a full-time lecturer for the journalism department. Much like Gietzen, teaching was not always a part of the plan for Adamson.
“I did not have a traditional trajectory to teaching,” Adamson said. “It wasn’t something I really planned on doing.”
Adamson completed her bachelor’s degree in journalism focusing on the public relations track at Baylor University. She stayed in Waco and worked for a couple of nonprofit organizations in the area including the United Way of McLennan County and American Heart Association. After a few years, she eventually came back to Baylor to work in the development office. While working at Baylor University, she was able to complete her master’s degree in communication studies through the employee tuition remission program. Two semesters prior to receiving her degree, she discovered she was pregnant with her daughter, Alexis.
“I think that was so much more beautiful,” Adamson said. “I have pictures from my graduation of her in her cute, frilly green and gold dress and me in my cap and gown, showing her that it was possible to do these things and life does not have to be this or this. It blends so much; more than you could ever understand until you are trying to figure it out in the midst of it.”
After receiving her master’s degree, she knew did not want to be working full time. One month after graduation, Adamson received an offer to teach part time on an adjunct basis. She started teaching in the fall of 2013 starting with one class that she taught one night a week.
“I started getting positive feedback from my students and I started feeling like I was connecting with my students and I could see the value in what I was bringing to my students,” she said.
A few years later, Adamson received a call from the department, asking her to step in as temporary full-time faculty member in the fall of 2016. She now teaches sections of editing, two sections of beginning reporting and writing and one section of writing for media markets.
“My favorite part about teaching is the relationships I get to build with students,” Adamson said. “I have 73 students this semester, and I make it my goal by week two to know all their names, and then as we go on, I get to know them more and more.”
Adamson is a firm believer in the idea that everyone can benefit from knowing how to write, which is a big reason why she is so passionate about her job. However, it is the relationships with her students that mean the most to her.
“Yes, I wanted you to be good writers. Yes, I want you to be conscientious editors, but that is not my end goal,” Adamson said. “My end goal is to help you figure out who you are and help be a part of shaping you into who God wants you to be.”
In addition to being a professor, Adamson is also the author of a book entitled, “The Last Alarm: First Responders' Stories of the West Explosion,” where she tells the stories of the people who were present in the midst of a terrible tragedy. Being a wife and sister to two firefighters, as well as living very close to the site, she felt close to the situation.
“Hearing some of their stories and some of their friend’s stories I thought, ‘Wow, I’m intrigued. I’m interested,’” Adamson said. “I felt helpless that I could not really do a lot to help. There were so many people that were going down there and giving water and helping out and doing search and rescue. At the time, I had a 9-month-old, so I couldn’t physically help but then I thought, ‘Well, yes, I can help. I can tell the stories.’”
There were many stories to be told about the explosion, but Adamson had to narrow her focus.
“I decided to focus just on first responders who were there when it happened and then leading up until the last man was laid to rest,” Adamson said.
In writing the book, Adamson discovered she was able to help several people process what had happened to them in a way that was therapeutic.
“That was a side benefit that I did not even see,” Adamson said. “It helped some of these people process what they had gone through and kind of feel validated for what they did.”