Communication Connection

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Faculty Profiles

Going Beyond Rate My Professor

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

By Carey Shetterley

Do you know what classes you want to take next semester? If so, have you looked at your professor’s rating on ratemyprofessor.com? Before you do that, you should get to know your potential professor face to face! Getting to know them in person will allow you to understand their personalities, teaching style and what they expect from their students. Professors are much more than what is written about them online. Sometimes what is written about them is based on a student’s bad grade, not an actual reflection of the professor. 

Dr. Julie Ann Scott-Pollock is a Communication Studies professor who teaches classes in performance studies, storytelling and qualitative research. She is also the director for the UNCW Storytellers and Seahawk Tale Players.

If you were to look up Dr. Scott-Pollock on ratemyprofessor.com you would see reviews such as “Dr. Scott's classes have changed my life… Most life changing class I've ever taken. She is so encouraging, is eager to help improve what skills you have, and just an overall amazing person.”

I had a chance to sit down with Dr. Julie-Ann Scott-Pollock and learn more about her than I could on any website.

You received your Bachelor’s in Massachusetts and Master’s and PhD in Maine. What brought you to North Carolina? It is a dramatic change from New England.

I was nervous to come to North Carolina because I definitely grew up in New England my whole life. When it was time to find a job, I learned that you had to do a nationwide search and there were only three performance jobs being offered that year. One was in Las Vegas for public speaking; the other was in Kennesaw, Georgia, that was a little more south than I wanted to go. And then there was here in North Carolina. At least this was right on the coast and I’ve always grown up on the coast. I knew that North Carolina had a lot of New England transplants—it’s a place that attracts people from all over. So I thought that this would be a great fit!

You did your doctoral work in performance studies. Were you always interested in performing?

Yes, but that is not what I wanted to do with my life. I double majored in English and Communication Studies with a concentration in Theatre. I was hoping to be a lawyer; I went to my English professor who ran the storytelling troop that I was apart of. I asked him if he could write me a letter of recommendation for law school. He sat me down and said, “Ah, Scott. Law is going to break you down. You care too much about people. You don’t belong in law.” I thought about what he said and decided he was on to something. So I applied for graduate school in Maine to get my Master’s in Communication Studies.

After studying memory loss, disability and bulimia throughout graduate school, what is it like coming to UNCW where we do not have any of those classes?

I am really interested in how illness is a daily performance. How do we perform ourselves and how do the performances of ill bodies fit into culture? I have noticed that we don’t have a disability studies program and the gender studies minor is tiny. I was nervous about this at first, but I will say that we do have a vibrant performance program. I want to teach students and talk to students about how we understand illness. How do we understand our experiences? It is not only shaping us but shaping culture. Interacting with one another is creating culture. So I can do that here at UNCW and it is really what is most important to me. I would much rather be in that performance position and transforming and understanding identity. Even more so than being a disability or gender studies professor.

Your Cripping video was so amazing to watch! Can you tell me a little more about what inspired this video?

In the workplace for people with disabilities, we have this thing called “reasonable accommodations.” But what is reasonable? That is up to debate. Is showing up to work three hours later than everyone else reasonable? Some people would say no. Would asking that a podium needs to be wheelchair accessible or else I can’t teach my lecture, be unreasonable? All of us, if we live long enough, are going to become disabled. So if we live in a world that we are open to changing bodies; that would be a dream. Cripping has been accepted for publication in Liminalities. It is a national peer reviewed performance studies journal. It only has a 20% acceptance rate, so we are really honored it got accepted.

You have excellent reviews on Rate my Professor, do you ever take into consideration the comments students leave on the website?

Really? I am actually scared to look, I have never checked.

Leaving the interview made me realize how much I never learned about my professor, even when I took one of her classes. Researching Dr. Scott and getting to know her better through an interview gave me a whole new perspective and respect for her. Dr. Scott is much more than the chili pepper next to her name on ratemyprofessor.com. If you get the opportunity, take advantage and connect with your professors today!