While attending Macomb’s faculty academy several years ago, Betsy Jenaway made an important discovery about herself. She was a “visual” learner, which helped explain the twisting path that took her from a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Michigan to a master’s degree in Information Systems from Lawrence Technological University and a teaching position at Macomb.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do starting out,” says Jenaway. “But mom and dad said, ‘You are going to college.’”
Jenaway took business classes first, but was more interested in history. After earning her degree, jobs were scarce and she worked in a bank, as a credit counselor, in a sales department and for the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit, before deciding to return to the classroom. Deciding to try something new, she took programming and coding classes and finally found her passion. Which, she now understands, was attributable to her learning style. She relates best to charts, maps and graphs, as many of her current students do.
“I love the problem solving that is involved in IT,” offers Jenaway. “When I’m coding, I lose all track of time. My family has to remind me when it’s time for dinner.”
Jenaway joined Macomb’s IT faculty in 2006 and teaches programming and database design classes. During her summer vacation, she develops her class assignments for the next school year. This year, however, she finds herself a visual learner once again.
“I do teach some classes online, and that helped when we had to adapt all our classes to online,” says Jenaway, referencing the last part of the winter semester after COVID-19 shut down the campuses. “Now, I’m trying to be the best Zoom teacher that I can be so I can keep my students engaged.”
Jenaway prefers to work at a community college versus a university because, she says, “I am a teacher, not a researcher.” She also appreciates how much she learns from her students, many of whom started out like she did, not sure of what career they wanted to pursue.
“This is incredibly rewarding work,” says Jenaway. “I love it when I hear from prior students and they let me know where they are now.”
Jenaway grew up in Detroit and dated her husband, Len, an aerospace engineer, when they were attending Regina and Notre Dame high schools, respectively. But the couple went their separate ways and didn’t meet again until both were U of M students in Ann Arbor. An avid hiker (shown here at Yosemite), Jenaway has lately been sheltering in place with her husband and their daughter, Julia, 21, a civil engineering student at Michigan Technological University.
“Each of us have our own zones in the house,” says Jenaway. “And all three of us take turns making dinner.”
Jenaway is excited about the start of the fall semester, regardless of what format classes will be offered in. One thing that will never change, however, is the reward she gets from her work.
“Few people can say that they have a direct impact on another person’s life,” relates Jenaway, “but that’s what we do.”