Faculty Spotlight: Ismael Lopez Medel Ph.D., Department of Communication

Describe your educational background.

Bachelor’s Degree in Advertising and Public Relations, Masters Degree in Electronic Communication, Ph.D. in Visual Communication

What do you love about working at APU?

I love creating things. Creation and program building really are my forte. Originally APU only offered two Public Relations classes, so the opportunity to build up a program was really attractive to me. On a personal level, I felt the people at APU were great. Not only were the staff friendly during the interview process, but I saw a genuine care that the staff and faculty had for the students. I’ve been here five years and I haven’t heard a professor speak unkindly to a student once. In many higher education environments students are seen as nuisances or just numbers. But here at APU, the faculty have the sincere desire to minister to the students in their classrooms and build them up. Another positive aspect about working at APU is the concept of faith-integration. Growing up in Spain and teaching at exclusively secular universities, this concept was completely new to me.

What makes you passionate about teaching your particular subject?

Students. It’s the only reason why I do it. I love the learning process and seeing students discover themselves. Getting thank-you notes from students who express their gratitude for the program over the years is such a blessing. Having the personal connection with students is totally worth it.

What are your ultimate goals when it comes to teaching the next generation?

The two qualities I hope to instill in my students are independence and networking. The question I ask myself regarding my students is, “How do I motivate you to become independent enough?” The number one complaint I get from people in the industry is that people today are too afraid of making mistakes. The independence and confidence to succeed in the industry is something I hope to pass on to my students.

What has been your proudest moment of your career so far?

The most fulfilling moment that I’ve seen is the impact I’ve had in student’s lives. I had a student back in Spain who I advised to drop out of school because it wasn’t challenging him. I told him to find a firm and begin working for them. The student did that and became a partner in a major agency in Madrid. He has now travelled the globe working for companies like Amazon and Netflix. Every summer I take my students to see him in Spain. Capstone class reflections are also a fulfilling aspect of teaching. It’s incredible to hear what resonates with students. Finally, commencement is simultaneously the most happy and sad moment of the year. While you’re so proud of your students, you learn to love and let go. Commencement summarizes the entire experience.

What’s your advice to someone pursuing a career in the field you teach?

My first piece of advice would be to send emails and ask questions. If a student is interested in working for a particular agency, I encourage them to email people who work there and ask for their personal instruction and advice. Secondly, I ask my students to identify what makes them unique for the career or job they want to pursue. The world needs more adventurous people, and being proactive with communication is the first step. Finally, having a sense of strategy is crucial. Ask yourself, “what’s the plan?” In Ancient Greece, the strategos was a military strategist who planned military endeavors. Students with a “battle plan” or strategy for their career will be in a far better position to attain their goals over those who just randomly apply for jobs.

If you were given the platform to share a piece of wisdom with the world, what would you say?

We need to study more. Many people today tend to think they know a lot. Humility and acknowledging that you’re not as smart as you think is an essential attitude needed today. Parallel to this is an attitude of curiosity. In our current outrage culture people need to ask more questions and have a genuine desire to learn.

Date: January 14, 2020

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