Professor Tom Kenny Shines in the Communications Department
By Hannah Werthan
Professor Tom Kenny Shines in the Communications Department
Communications professor Tom Kenny ('09) accepted the Long Island Business News Excellence in Communication award in the "Mentor" category on March 22, 2017. Anyone who has had Tom as a professor at Molloy knows how passionate he is about teaching. Tom's knowledge in his field coupled with his enthusiasm for sharing his expertise with students has made him a young star in his department.
From Undergraduate Student to Award-Winning Professor
Tom came to Molloy College as an undergraduate transfer from Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC), where he received an associate degree in Video Arts and Technology. Because he was a part-time student at BMCC, Tom was 24 years old when he began his studies at Molloy. Being an older student was an advantage, he says, because he was serious about his studies and knew exactly what he wanted to do. As an undergraduate, Tom relished the small class sizes and the opportunity to have ample one-on-one time with the media equipment, aspects of the Communications program at Molloy he continues to enjoy as a professor. Tom got his first taste of what it was like to teach when he was a senior in college. The Communications department hired him to assist other students in their projects. After graduation, he stayed at Molloy as the Director of Media Facilities. His job was to run the TV studio and the Communications lab, which meant long but rewarding hours of working with students on their projects. He received his master's degree in Communications at the New York Institute of Technology in December 2010. Immediately after completing his degree, he was hired as an adjunct professor at Molloy, in addition to keeping his staff position. In September 2016, he became a full-time instructor in the Communications department, teaching courses in the Media and Professional tracks.
Teaching the Millennial Generation
In Tom's classes, reading directly off of a PowerPoint is not on the agenda. He encourages discussion and often assigns group work. He is also readily available for extra help. Tom uses an app called Remind in his classes. The app allows students to group message or text him with any questions they have about assignments. This way, students can have the help they need as soon as possible.
Tom's students speak highly of his teaching style. "Tom is able to engage the whole group in a surprisingly personal matter. He's very conversational and easy to like," says sophomore Media Communications major Matt Considine.
"He is clearly passionate about teaching, and that gets you excited as a student in his class," adds senior Professional Communications major Samantha Esposito.
Preparing Students for the Workforce
For Media Communications majors, Tom's popular TV production classes are an opportunity to gain hands-on learning and clips for future internships and jobs. "In TV Studio Production, our group did everything from writing the script to casting actors to putting the props together. I had never painted a set before I took his class, but I painted an aquarium and a castle. You learn how to work as a group; some people naturally gravitated to different parts of our assignments. The hours are long, but the results are definitely worth it," says senior Media Communications major Lexi Kakis. "After you are done with a project, Tom makes sure digital copies are available and you can post them on YouTube to send to employers." Tom thinks of social media as important tool to help students get ahead in their desired field. He teaches a class called "Social Media," which, fittingly, is completely online. He also teaches "Online Branding," a course intended to help students establish a positive online presence. Samantha Esposito believes the online branding class helped her with her career goals. "I was able to build my connections in Public Relations, which is what I want to do post-graduation. Tom taught me how to connect with people in the industry on LinkedIn and how to gain more followers on Twitter by retweeting relevant content," she says.
Paying It Forward
No matter what class students take with Tom, they are pushed to do their best, just as Tom was when he was a student. When Tom came to Molloy as an undergraduate, he felt secure in his production and editing skills but did not consider writing to be one of his strengths. He credits Dr. Deirdre Pribram, a professor in the Communications department, for giving him the confidence to hone his writing skills. Now that he is a professor, Tom instills the same confidence in his students.
"From the beginning, you know he wants to you do well and he is on your side," says Lexi Kakis. "The level of pressure is there in his classes, in a good way. Through his classes, Tom prepares us for the media industry. He gives us the experience we need to succeed. So much goes into our assignments. We are encouraged to push the envelope and make them look as good as possible. When they are done, I always feel accomplished."
Mentoring Beyond the Classroom
Tom encourages students to pursue their passions outside of the classroom as well. For senior Media Communications major Ronnie Amato, this meant applying to the prestigious Television Academy program in Los Angeles. "Right from the first day of my TV Studio Production class, Tom told the class that it was possible to be selected for this program. He took the time to explain the program to me and what to expect if I was selected. Along with Professor Jamie Cohen, he wrote me a letter of recommendation. I applied last year and, though I did not get it, I was a finalist," says Ronnie. Tom's advice to students who are about to graduate is to never stop learning. He urges them to constantly read journal articles, books, websites, everything they can to stay current. It is something Tom himself takes to heart. He is working on his Ph.D. in Information Studies at Long Island University, which he expects to complete in 2019. Soon, Tom will also be taking on a new role: parent. Tom and his wife, Holly, are expecting a baby boy this April.