New CSUF assistant professor challenges students to think critically

In Features, Lifestyle, Top Stories
(Jennifer Gerbautz / Daily Titan)

The glossy pages of Cal State Fullerton’s Tusk Magazine this spring will be produced with the guidance of new assistant communications professor Chelsea Reynolds.

The accomplished journalist and media researcher has contributed to the world of magazines since graduating from Iowa State University. Reynolds’ works have been featured in popular outlets like the Huffington Post, Vox and Cosmopolitan, among other publications.

Journalism wasn’t always her plan. Initially, Reynolds had a passion for poetry and wanted to pursue a degree in English. It was her professor and mentor at Iowa State Debra Gibson who encouraged her to change directions.

“Without her, I never would’ve started working in journalism. It wouldn’t have occurred to me that that was a career choice,” Reynolds said.

After graduating from Iowa, she joined the editorial team at Men’s Health in Pennsylvania where she first became interested in researching sexuality content in magazines. She decided to pursue a master’s degree in journalism at the University of Missouri and later went on to get a doctoral degree in mass communications at the University of Minnesota.

Reynolds is especially fascinated by the way individuals in marginalized communities use the internet as a resource to find other people like themselves.

“I’m really interested in the ways that LGBT people and women use media to communicate their own values and belief systems and to sort of take back the narratives in mainstream media, whether in magazines or newspapers. Those narratives sometimes marginalize people or assume facts about sex or gender for readers that aren’t necessarily true,” Reynolds said.

She strives to shed light on marginalized communities and knock down boundaries to unify society.

“We don’t need to think about things as isolated from one another,” Reynolds said. “I think seeing that our venn diagrams overlap more than they are separate is pretty important.”

Her mother’s breast cancer diagnosis during the first semester of her doctorate program led her to re-evaluate her career as a journalist and geared her toward academia instead.

“I think I would’ve stayed in journalism if my mom didn’t get sick,” Reynolds said. “After she passed, it was just obvious to me that I wanted this ongoing ability to sort of dig deep into the questions I want to ask intellectually and also work with students and impact them positively. Those are things my mom would’ve very much approved of.”

Reynolds first taught journalism and media studies at DePaul University, a private school, but when the opportunity to teach at CSUF presented itself, the choice was easy. Being in the public school system herself as a college student, she felt it was important to give back to a community she can relate to.

“The opportunity to teach here was eye opening for me because this student body is so diverse,” Reynolds said. “As someone who works specifically in diversity in media, the opportunity to work with students from literally across all walks of life, was really appealing to me.”

As a professor, Reynolds tries to emphasize the importance of family and mental health to her students. She encourages them to think critically and to “dig into the nitty-gritty” before making an assumption or forming an opinion about something.

Many professors within the communications department, including CSUF journalism assistant professor Frank Russell, Ph.D., believe Reynolds is a great addition to the CSUF community.

“I’ve seen her teach, and students respond to her teaching style very well,” Russell said. “I’ve seen her interact with other faculty in the department, and everyone likes her very much as far as I can tell.”

Reynolds teaches five classes in journalism and digital media,

One of her current Reporting for Mass Media students, broadcast journalism major Jared Adams, is glad he has Reynolds as a professor this semester and is considering taking Feature Article Writing during winter session with her as well.

“She’s great. She’s there for her students,” Adams said. “She’s got a lot of knowledge to give us as students in the classroom.”

Reynolds feels like she can relate to going through the same struggles CSUF communications students often experience, balancing paying bills, interning, making classes, getting enough sleep and balancing a social life.

“I think it’s cool to see younger students going through the same thing. We can all just help each other and I think those opportunities are good here for me,” Reynolds said.

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