How One Communication Professor Uses Experience to Teach Students
(Photo courtesy of Pam Lasure)
When a friend and abuse survivor was trying to raise funds to start a domestic violence shelter, Pam Lasure wrote a six-part series of stories on battered women to show that no matter your age, race, or class, abuse can happen to anyone.
Each day her stories were published, the Circleville Herald ran out of copies. Representatives from the Ohio Statehouse came to help start the shelter, and Haven House in Pickaway County has been open now for over 30 years. “It’s not about awards, but this will outlive me and people will have a place to go after writing those stories,” Lasure said.
Opportunities to use her writing to have an impact inspired Lasure to pursue journalism as a career. She got her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ohio University and worked in that field for about seven years. She worked for the Associated Press in San Diego, won seven writing awards, and wrote a humor column that was published in two states.
Despite these accomplishments, Lasure’s career hasn’t always been journalism-related. While she ran her humor column and wrote feature articles, she was also doing stand-up comedy.
But, it was hard to juggle the lifestyle of a stand-up comedian with a family. Lasure recalled the moment she decided she no longer could pursue a comedy career. She was performing a show while her mother took care of her daughter in the nearby parking lot. “I was on stage, and all these people were laughing … I hear my baby cry over the 2,000 people laughing. They say they love me but she [her daughter] really does. They’ll get someone next year, but she needs me now,” she said.
Lasure remembers another situation that drove her away from a full-time journalism career. Her father passed away from a heart attack when she was five months pregnant. When she came back to work, she was assigned an 18-page paper with the same deadline even though she was still recovering. Lasure wrote the stories and headlines and took pictures to make sure everything was submitted on time.
After it was printed, her publisher and producer mocked the only two typos in all 18 pages. In response, she said, “you’re quick to criticize but slow to help.” Her publisher threatened to fire her, but after she left for maternity leave, she never returned.
On the recommendation of a student from a previous communication writing class, Lasure interviewed for a teaching position at Central High Technical College in Newark. Her interviewer “gave me two textbooks and said ‘class starts tomorrow.’” The schedule fit well with her home life, as her nine-month-old daughter required a lot of care at the time.
After receiving her master’s degree in higher education and organizational communication from Ohio University, Lasure worked at St. Clair Community College, but since COVID-19 happened, the college hasn’t had in-person classes for two years. After working a few different jobs, such as at Columbus State Community College, she landed a job at Ohio Wesleyan University. “I was nervous,” she said, “I hadn’t had a job interview for two years.
“I like the (OWU) campus. It’s a nice-sized school, it’s friendly, and people treat me well,” she said.
(Photo courtesy of Pam Lasure)
Lasure hopes to inspire her students just like her academic advisor did during her first four years of college. Her advisor, Sandra Haggerty, worked for the Los Angeles Times and tried to get Lasure a job there. “She was the first person to tell me I could write,” the 56-year-old said. The two formed a close, long-lasting relationship, and Lasure often admired Haggerty for being an empathetic and independent Black female professor.
Lasure and Haggerty created the Boys and Girls Club Chronicle, a newspaper written by children to keep them out of gangs and focused on something more positive. The paper ran in Gary, Indiana; Cincinnati, and Washington, DC. “I try to be an advisor to people like she did,” Lasure admitted.
Lasure has been teaching communication at OWU for the past two semesters to backfill for a professor on leave. She hopes to move to fulltime in the future.
“She is a really brilliant professor … I like her teaching, it involves a lot of interaction you don’t get from other professors,” said communications major Anubhav Raghav.