Journalism professor advises students for over four decades

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November 20, 2020
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November 20, 2020

Journalism professor advises students for over four decades

Solomon discusses a group editorial assignment with juniors Ruby Manville and Jewel Schuurmans and senior Victoria Vaughan in her Opinion Writing class. Photo: Mark Kamibayashiyama

Anyone who has stepped into the journalism department may have met Betty Solomon, a faculty member in the department of journalism and mass communication, as she walks through with a Diet Dr Pepper in hand, a smile on her face and a journalist’s observant eye.

A lover of words, writing and art, Solomon has been bringing her knowledge and passion into the classroom for 42 years, sharing her experiences with students and pushing them to excel. Today, she teaches classes including Reporting, Copy Editing, Cases in Public Relations, and Opinion Writing. She is the faculty adviser for The Collegian and has been advising the campus paper since it began in 1986.

For Solomon, the most important part of her career has been impacting hundreds of students’ lives through the opportunities the Lord has given her, helping them to develop their communication and writing skills so they may better communicate truth.

“We need to encourage Christians who have abilities in the areas of communication and writing to use those talents to make a difference in their chosen professions,” Solomon said. “And for my students that’s particularly in the area of the media.”

Christina Laird, a senior journalism and mass communication major, has been taking classes from Solomon for three and a half years. Laird also worked as a writer, content editor and co-editor for The Collegian. Laird said Solomon is extremely passionate and motivated, and she encourages all her students to do the best they can in everything.

“Miss Solomon has taught me everything I know about public relations and writing,” Laird said. “She has been the most influential professor at BJU on my career because of her constant encouragement to improve in all aspects of communication and writing.”

Nathaniel Cary, a reporter for The Post and Courier Greenville and a graduate of BJU’s journalism program, also took classes from Solomon and worked on The Collegian while he was an undergraduate.

“She was a daily influence on my life during college as a professor and adviser,” Cary said. “She . . . knows when to push her students for more and when to let up on the gas and knew how to prepare me to think logically and evaluate critically every story that comes my way.”

Born and raised in Virginia, Solomon grew up in a Christian home and was saved at the age of 10. She graduated from BJU with a degree in English education planning to teach high school English. But the Lord had other plans, so Solomon chose to stay at BJU and get her master’s degree, during which she taught freshman English classes and fell in love with teaching college students.

“When you find the niche that allows you to serve God with your talents and you are making a difference in the lives of your students, why change that?” Solomon said. She said she loves teaching college students because she loves seeing students progress from being new and starting out in their field of study to being successful and influential in their field past graduation.

After finishing her master’s degree, Solomon was asked to stay with the University as a faculty member, and when BJU began considering a new journalism program, her interest was piqued. There was a need for writing teachers, so Solomon answered that call. As the journalism program grew and expanded, Solomon stuck with it and went on to get a master’s degree in journalism from the University of South Carolina while still teaching at BJU, leading her to where she is now.

“There was something about journalism that I really loved. It was fresh and new and current,” Solomon said. “You’re always learning something new.”

Jennifer Miller, an adjunct faculty member in the Division of Communication, has taught with Solomon for two years. Solomon was also her professor and adviser while Miller was an undergraduate.

“She is a masterful teacher,” Miller said. “[She] holds a place at the top of all my teachers and professors throughout my educational journey including law school.”

In addition to teaching at BJU, Solomon worked as a freelance reporter for The Greenville Piedmont, the former evening publication of The Greenville News, work that gave her experience she now shares with her students.

“Words are so important,” Solomon said. “God chose words to communicate His story to the world. We are reflecting the image of God in us when we do the same.”