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Jane Kokernak

Senior Communication Specialist

Contact

Office Location

440 Huntington Avenue
332 West Village H
Boston, MA 02115

Mailing Address

Northeastern University
ATTN: Jane Kokernak, 202 WVH
360 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115-5000

Biography

  • MA in English, Simmons College
  • BA in English and German Studies, Wellesley College

What are the brief specifics of your educational/career background?

I entered Wellesley College with the intention of double majoring in English and Math or Chemistry, having excelled in those in high school. While I did take courses in all of them, I focused on English and German Studies, liking the challenge of studying literature and language. After a gap of more than 10 years and a whole career, I went to Simmons College for an MA in English, and I started teaching there. I’m delighted that by teaching technical communication I can use the tools of my trade – words, ideas, language, expression – in connection with some of my earlier interests in math and science.

What are the key aspects of your role at Northeastern? What do you enjoy most/find most interesting about what you do?

I’ve been teaching technical communication at the university level for more than a decade, and I’ve been writing for clients and my own projects for even longer. My Khoury role allows me to wear both hats – educator and writer – in the same job for the first time! Also, there is a strong collaborative streak in the Khoury community and Northeastern at large, and whenever people work together the result exceeds any single person’s contribution. That dynamic is important to me.

What’s the most compelling thing to you about the research/work that goes on at the College?

In my early meetings at Khoury for this position, I learned the school’s ethos — “computer science for everyone” – and it instantly connected with my egalitarian spirit and long-held belief that education must be both accessible and transformative. Furthermore, in learning more about all the research projects going on among students and faculty, I am fascinated and encouraged by all the ways that computer science is vital to our lives and the world.

Where did you grow up/spend the most defining years of your child/young adulthood?

I am a life-long Massachusetts resident with a great love for its landscape and proximity to the ocean, as well as an affinity for the culture, history, and politics. Growing up in a small town near Worcester, my siblings and I had an outdoor childhood: playing in the woods near our house and camping, biking, ice skating, and skiing as a family. Even now, though my work as teacher and writer is largely intellectual and social, I enjoy the physical aspects of teaching, presenting, interacting with people, and working on a big urban campus that requires lots of walking. I’m a gardener and runner, and I still ice skate when I get the chance.

What led you to work in your field and/or study at your college? Any reason in particular why you opted for those particular schools/careers (family history, a program you were excited about, a city you were dying to live in)?

After I graduated from college, I worked for more than a decade in nonprofit development, wanting to put my communication skills to good use in improving the world. I’m both practical and optimistic. When I was in my mid-30s I went to graduate school simply because I wanted to. While studying for the MA in English, I took an inspiring teaching methods class and started tutoring in the Writing Center and TA-ing in literature classes. I was hooked! After I finished the degree, I made a career shift, eventually specializing in technical communication, which I developed in my 10 years at MIT as lecturer in communication-intensive science and engineering courses. I love being in a profession that helps others use language with precision and purpose in order to share ideas, solve problems, and advance knowledge – ultimately for the greater good.