Marsha D’Angelo is a pro at making her clients look good.
Now she’s getting some of her own.
The 43-year-old public relations and applied communications instructor at Kwanten Polytechnic University has won a Teaching Excellence Award for Western United States and Western Canada and is now in the running for the International Teaching Excellence Award, the winner of which will be announced in June, in California.
It’s a huge deal, considering D’Angelo, a veteran in the fields of crisis and corporate communications, already bested her competition in 12 U.S. states, B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Yukon, North West Territories and Nunavut.
“I guess my understanding is that there is a winner from each of nine regions across North America, so I was the winner for region seven, it’s called,” D’Angelo explains. “So those nine winners go to California and then one of the nine wins the international teaching award.”
The winners were selected by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, the only global accrediting agency to accredit business and accounting programs at all academic levels. The ACBSP counts 1,200 campuses in 60 countries among its members.
Her win has created a buzz at KPU.
“Marsha is a much in-demand and respected instructor,” says Wayne Tebb, dean of KPU’s school of business.
D’Angelo and her department is presently working to develop the university’s first minor in professional communications program.
The Vancouver resident originally hails from Abbotsford. After earning an MA in History she had planned to enrol in law school but found “really, it wasn’t my passion.” Along the way, she “fell in love with PR, and the rest is history.
“I really believe in the importance of effective communications.”
Many employers, she notes, are desperate for people who can speak and write well.
Her career has taken her to Europe and elsewhere. She has worked with Cossette, a major marketing and communication agency that numbers McDonald’s, General Motors, Bank of Montreal, General Mills, Nike Inc. and Proctor & Gamble among its clients.
During her career, she’s helped put unknown companies “on the map.” (Not that any of those listed above are unknown).
D’Angelo is an instructor in Surrey and Richmond, teaching an introductory course in media relations, publicity and promotion, and introductory and advanced courses in professional communications.
“Each semester I teach four to five sections of 25 students each, so 100 to 125 students per semester.”
Most of her students are ages 18 to 23. The public relations gig seems to attract students almost right out of high school, she says.
So what are the hallmarks of a good communicator?
“I think the first hallmark is understanding your audience,” D’Angelo says. “Not only your audience but the situation in which you are communicating. With my students, the first thing I really try to make sure they understand is that before you even speak or before you even start to type out that email or that letter, really think about the situation, the audience and the circumstances within which you are communicating.
“I think that’s really important,” she says. “Also being an effective, concise writer. Writing is a huge challenge for a lot of students, so it’s something that I spend a great deal of my time helping students with, and being able to read a room and speak confidently and persuasively about whatever topic it is that you’re dealing with.”
Her recent honour speaks for itself. It’s probably somewhat obtuse to ask her how she feels about it, but what the heck.
“You know what, I feel incredibly honoured that my hard work has been recognized by an accreditation body with such huge confluence that they have locations in 60 countries all across the world,” D’Angelo says.
“Mostly it’s a thrill to be recognized for all of the hard work that I do. I work really hard to design course material and assignments and exercises that engage students, that are current and that are applied, so that when they walk into the work place, the greatest thrill for me is when they come back and say, ‘All that stuff you taught me, we’re actually doing that, we’re actually doing that in the workplace.’
“I really work hard to try and make sure my courses are a reflection of what they’re going to encounter in the workplace. So the fact that that’s being recognized is a huge thrill to me.”