Dr. Sarah Holtan is the Department Chair of Communication and an Associate Professor of Communication at CUW. She did not expect to be holding either of those positions when she started out.
Dr. Holtan has her PhD from Marquette University in Journalism Education, an M.S. in Education from CUW, and she double majored in Mass Communication and Political Science at Augsburg College.
Since a young age Dr. Holtan had been enthralled by the news. Influenced by her parents who always read the paper and had the news on TV, she would conduct her own newscasts to supplement the newscast already on TV, much to her parent’s annoyance.
“I grew up with seeing that being valued, knowing what’s going on in your community, being a citizen and being aware,” Dr. Holtan said.
After graduating from high school, she wanted to work in the broadcast news industry. Then graduating from college, she was able to get her start at WISN Channel 12 in Milwaukee as the teleprompter operator.
From humble beginnings at this position, Dr. Holtan advanced to the station producer position. After holding that position at Channel 12 for four years she felt as though it was time for change.
“It came to me in prayer that teaching would be an amazing way to give back and to share what I’ve learned,” said Dr. Holtan.
After receiving her master’s from CUW, she taught as an adjunct professor here. Eventually she became full-time staff at CUW.
In the classroom, Dr. Holtan recognizes that there is a variety of students that attend CUW. She uses different teaching strategies and techniques to reach as many students as possible.
“I have to try my best to meet [students] where they are,” she said.
Dr. Holtan creates interactions in her classes, including lecture, role-playing exercises, or an in-class debate.. She hopes that at least a few of the different strategies work for students.
Working with fellow faculty members, Dr. Holtan is expanding the Communication Department with two new minors and a new major currently developing. Dr. Holtan wants to improve the department’s visibility to get more students interested in the program.
Dr. Holtan said communication students should get involved in experiences and programs that prepare them for the professional world and to build their resumes.