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Authenticity and Dedication: A Profile of Dr. Jennifer Rupert


A truly influential teacher is a passionate individual whose aim is to help students expand their knowledge and build their character. Dr. Jennifer Rupert, the Honors College Instructor of the Year (2018-2019) and recipient of UIC’s Silver Circle Award for Teaching Excellence, is one such teacher who has a positive influence on her students at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Dr. Rupert’s 21-year journey at UIC began in 1998 when she joined as a graduate student from Pennsylvania to pursue a Ph.D. in English. One of the most prominent factors that helped her decide to move from Pennsylvania to Chicago was UIC’s strong Women and Gender Studies program. While preparing her dissertation, she joined the academic advising department of the college of Liberal Arts and Sciences as a general advisor and began to work with first-year students.  This ultimately inspired her to focus on the education of undergraduates at UIC, especially the “underprepared,” because of her own past experiences as a first-generation college student. Now, Dr. Rupert is an Honors College Fellow and a professor of English, who also teaches an honors core course: “From Hip-Hop to Horror: The Sexual & Racial Politics of American Popular Media”.

“This class has certainly been one of the major highlights of my teaching career at UIC.  Teaching an interdisciplinary course focused on our popular media has enabled me not only to share my research as a humanities scholar in new and exciting ways but also has opened up new avenues for investigation for me as a feminist cultural critic and mentor to so many young feminist thinkers and activists at UIC,” said Dr. Rupert. 

As a senior lecturer at UIC, she believes that authenticity is essential and creates a greater learning experience for students. She shares her journey transitioning from a small town in Pennsylvania with 200 people to becoming a professor at her graduate school with over 33,000 students in the nation’s third-largest city, Chicago. She also explains to students the adversities she faced in life. While Dr. Rupert was initially an Economics major, she later decided to major in English, which in turn led her to pursue a Ph.D. in English at UIC. As “an underprepared, insecure undergraduate” and “first-generation college student,” Dr. Rupert gained her confidence by working with professors who were able to recognize her abilities and encourage her by sharing their own experiences. “I have questioned myself a lot. It’s useful for young people to hear that. You can aspire to do things that might seem out of your reach. But, you can do it! So, I try to share that story a lot with my students,” says Dr. Rupert.

Dr. Rupert teaches diverse undergraduate courses ranging from first-year writing to gender studies. She is also an Honors College Faculty Fellow who views her relationship with the Honors College “as one of mutual affection and sincere respect.” It is clear that Dr. Rupert is a professor who is determined to help students achieve their goals. Despite the challenges she encountered in the past, her dedication and passion for teaching allow her to help students accomplish their goals and encourage them to utilize every opportunity the university offers.