Outstanding Graduate Discovers New Passion at Island University

Published: December 12, 2018

Outstanding Graduate Discovers New Passion at Island University

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – For many young people, college is a time of discovery where new friends are made, lessons are learned, ideologies are challenged, and at the end of it all – new passions are found. When Jennifer Kloesel came to Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi three years ago, she had no idea her journey would lead to a degree in communication studies with a minor in psychology – areas of study she was surprised to fall in love with.

Kloesel, a Central Texas native, was originally drawn to the Island University because she wanted to pursue a career in marine biology. However, her interests slowly shifted to psychology, where she could learn more about human behavior versus focusing on coastal and oceanic life. Then, after taking her first communication class, Kloesel knew she wanted to study how people connect with others.

“I like that communication teaches you a skill set that is used every day. You can’t go a second without communicating either verbally or non-verbally with people,” said Kloesel, a first-generation college student.

One of Kloesel’s favorite aspects of studying communication is understanding the theories and research behind how people interact and present themselves. Her passion for research led her to focus on relational communication, which builds and maintains relationships in small social networks like the workplace or family. For her capstone project, she studied cultural influences on communication and its correlation to satisfaction in long-distance relationships.

“As humans, we have an innate desire to have relationships with others, whether it is platonic or romantic,” said Kloesel. “This is something so many people enjoy and want in their life, and it’s important for us to fully understand why and how we can forge this communication.”

In high school, Kloesel studied diligently to earn as many college credits as possible to prepare herself for success in higher education. Then, she juggled working full-time while striving to be a stellar Islander student.

“Regardless of what’s going on between work and school, I had to be quick on my feet to get my assignments done,” said Kloesel. “I had to persist and adapt because without work, I wouldn’t be able to stay in school and without schooling, then my future was limited.”

Kloesel is one of 880+ Islander students who will walk the stage during the Fall 2018 Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 15. It is a day of recognition that will be attended by her father, who is traveling all the way from Afghanistan, her three siblings, and her extended family. Kloesel credits her success to her dad, who has been her greatest support system and inspiration. 

“Growing up, my dad always stressed how important going to college and having an education is. This has always stuck with me and it’s true – while everything else may fade, education is something you’re going to have for life,” shared Kloesel. “Without my dad, I wouldn’t be where I am, and the least I can do to show my appreciation is pursue my goals to the best of my ability.”

Another helping hand along Kloesel’s journey was Dr. Kellie Smith, assistant professor of communication. According to Kloesel, Smith’s encouragement and understanding helped her navigate college without being intimidated. 

“Jennifer is an extremely conscientious student and she goes above and beyond on her assignments,” said Smith. “I’ve watched her emerge as a leader in several of her group projects and I know that wherever she goes, she will make a positive contribution as a valuable team member. I respect her, and she will be dearly missed when she graduates.” 

Thanks to Kloesel’s dedication and discipline, not only has she earned her way on the Dean’s List two times, but she’s also graduating a semester early, magna cum laude.

“As the first of my siblings to graduate from college, I’m honored to set an example, especially for my younger sister,” shared Kloesel. “I want her to know that even though college isn’t easy, it’s doable. That may mean spending extra time in the library or talking with professors, but at the end of the day, it’s worth it.”

After graduation, Kloesel plans on applying to graduate school in pursuit of her goal of becoming a professor of communication.