“I think I changed my major five times when I first got here,” says Demetria Green. “I was all over the place.”
It wasn’t that she had trouble finding subjects that interested her. In fact, she had so much energy and enthusiasm to offer, she wasn’t sure which field could match them over the long term.
But when she took COM 307, Gender and Communication, as an elective, she started asking, “Where do I sign up for this program?”
What about this class spoke to her?
“It was such a genuine environment,” she remembers. She loved how her instructor, Nora Cox, structured the lessons — with heavy emphasis on discussion.
Demetria says, “We talked about real-life things, such as the racial climate. There was so much going on at the time, and we talked about it every day.”
And when the discussion ventured into difficult or contentious territory, she says, no one pulled back.
“We’d say, ‘Why do you feel this way? Where is this coming from?’” Demetria remembers.
These conversations weren’t easy. One day, she even cried. “I was so passionate about what we were talking about,” she says. “At the end of the class, there were people who I knew had really different ideas about things [than I did], but we were still able to say, ‘Hey, how’re you doing? Let’s speak.’”
The experience provided an early glimpse of the power of effective communication.
Now, having earned bachelor’s degrees in communication and psychology and an undergraduate certificate in conflict and dispute resolution, Demetria is completing her master’s degree in communication.
She brings her experiences as a student into the classes she teaches, where she pushes students to engage. She’s upbeat and high energy, ready with an encouraging “you can do it,” when students hesitate — and a challenging “give me an example” when they answer.
In a recent class, a student struggled to answer a question, mentioning he’d been bogged down in math mid-terms. Immediately, Demetria switched gears. “What’s the square root of 81?” she asked. He answered correctly.
Another, when asked about the concept of credibility in public speaking, admitted he hadn’t completed the assigned reading. “Okay,” she said, “but you know what ‘credibility’ means.” He did and was able to define it for the group.
For Demetria, this is just how she operates: present and all in. She poured the same level of energy into her master’s thesis, which examines the effects of bureaucratic policies and power structures on minority groups, specifically within the university setting.
She first tackled this topic for an assignment in Dr. Carrisa Hoelscher’s class.
“I put my blood, sweat and tears into that paper,” Demetria remembers. “And I said, ‘I’m not letting this go,’ so it became my thesis.”
She presented it at the Graduate College’s 3 Minute Thesis competition, where she won the People’s Choice Award. And she hopes to continue working with this topic — perhaps at the doctoral level.
First, though, there’s graduation — and a wedding to her high school sweetheart, a fellow Missouri State grad.
“I’m so happy,” she says.