By Isabella Vaccaro
It took years of education and dozens of UM football games before alumnus Michael North realized he wanted to teach. North is an assistant professor of public relations writing and social media at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU), but before he became a Blue Devil, North was a mighty ’Cane. He graduated in 2015 with his Ph.D. in public relations from the University of Miami School of Communication (SoC), in 2009 with his M.A. also from the School of Communication, and in 2008 with a B.A. from the University of Miami Miami Business School.
“The UM School of Communication throws you in front of a class in your second year of your Ph.D. career. It's sink or swim, so you prepare like crazy, so you swim with authority,” North said.
North made his teaching debut while a student in the Ph.D. program at the SoC, taking on five courses as a professor and one as a T.A. He learned quickly that his dread of public speaking could be overcome with “hands-on” practice. When he showed up 20 minutes early to his first class as a professor at UM to find a slew of nervous freshman already sitting there, North’s nerves melted, making way for an enjoyable first teaching experience.
“They were freshmen showing up to their first college class. I was teaching my first college class. We were a match and it went perfectly that semester. You can never go back and teach for the first time. That class was great — they worked so hard, and they made my life easy by trying to help,” North said.
Thanks to his teaching experiences at UM, as well as the research he conducted on how Fortune 500 companies use social media to their benefit, North now teaches a full course load at CCSU. His classes focus on running social media campaigns, conducting public relations research methods such as survey questionnaires or focus groups, and writing for public relations using tactics such as news releases, pitches, features, and media advisories.
Though he admits that, during his time at UM, North never imagined a career in teaching, he now says he “wouldn’t have it any other way.”
“I teach a 4/4 load and it's just what I know now. I grade about 80 assignments per week, but that's my new normal,” North said of his job at CCSU.
For North, his time at UM was largely characterized by the invigorating tailgates at Hardrock Stadium and his time coaching the UM club baseball team, especially when they beat our infamous rival, FSU. However, it was the invaluable first steps he took as a professor during his Ph.D. program at UM that led North to discover his true passion for teaching.