Calming the Anxious
by Tim Fitzgerald
Almost everyone suffers from it. Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy and Barbara Walters have had it and overcome it. The "it" is a fear of public speaking, and one University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) faculty member has focused her teaching and research career on curing this problem in college students.
Recently, UNO's Karen Dwyer was honored for her work with the University of Nebraska's Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity Award (OTICA). Dr. Dwyer is an associate professor in the UNO School of Communication and director of the basic speech course. She was nominated for her teaching and mentoring skills, curriculum development, assessment and community engagement.
Dr. Dwyer came to UNO in 1987 as a graduate student and received her master's degree two years later. "I received my undergraduate degree in home economics and have always been interested in communication," she said. While in school, she got a job promoting Sharp microwave ovens and said she cooked her way through graduate school. "People were always asking me to talk about microwave cooking, and so I wrote a cookbook. We had to print a minimum of 500, but luckily I was interviewed on Shenandoah's KMA Radio and in the Omaha World-Herald on the same day. The result was that we sold more than 2,000 cookbooks in just a few days." Dr. Dwyer ended up writing three cookbooks, some of which can still be found in local bookstores.
Today she isn't writing cookbooks, but rather workbooks and textbooks that are used by UNO students in their public speaking classes. "As a graduate student, I became interested in my research area of communication apprehension. I was shocked to see so many students who were so scared to give a speech."
Dr. Dwyer wrote her dissertation on speech anxiety and asked if she could begin teaching one or two classes for those with speech anxiety. She also has published a textbook on the topic, "Conquer Your Speech Anxiety: Learn to Overcome Your Nervousness about Public Speaking."
Dr. Dwyer emphasizes the need to find out where speech anxiety originates, and then one can apply a technique to conquer it. "I teach my students to go through a list of basics such as stress and behavior and find out where the anxiety begins."
Her speech expertise isn't limited to helping UNO students. Faculty, staff and alumni can make use of the UNO Speech Center, which is directed by Dr. Dwyer. The center offers coaching and consulting to those wishing to enhance their oral communication skills. "We have a lot of customers, and last year we received $62,000 from the legislature to fund the center," Dr. Dwyer said. To learn more about the UNO Speech Center, call 402.554.6054.
The UNO educator said she was shocked to win the OTICA and is grateful that the university honors teaching. "Teachers don't get enough credit. Everything that all of us do is somehow linked to teachers in our lives. I'm always proud to represent good teaching."
To view a video of Dr. Dwyer, visit the Web at this link (http://www.nebraska.edu/news/video_news_releases.aspx) and click on Karen Dwyer.
Tim Fitzgerald is manager of photography at UNO. He can be reached at email@example.com.
October 2012 > A Closer Look at IS&T's NUCIA
October 2012 > UNO Engages Students, Community for 2012 Elections
December 2011 > Conference Tags
September 2011 > Roskens Hall: An Educator's Dream
July 2011 > Arts and Sciences Hall: UNO's Cornerstone
April 2011 > UNOCCC: Twenty-Five Years of Caring
March 2011 > UNO's Libraries: A History
March 2011 > The Henningson Memorial Campanile
February 2011 > Mammel Hall
February 2011 > The Sapp Fieldhouse
January 2011 > Heydays of the Hayden House
December 2010 > UNO Faculty/Staff Earn WELCOM Light of Wellness Team Award
August 2010 > Anna S. Forman Commencement Remarks
May 2010 > John Treinen Commencement Remarks
March 2010 > My Ties and Cliff Hillegass
January 2010 > Megan Schuster Commencement Remarks
December 2009 > Man Killed by Pheasant
November 2009 > New Molecular Modeling Lab Key to Chemistry Research Work
September 2009 > Technology and Term Papers – A Photo Essay
October 2008 > Zero to 65 in 80 Semesters
September 2008 > H.RES.1372: Celebrating the 100th
September 2008 > UNO Researcher Spotlighted
March 2008 > Culture on Campus
February 2008 > In Her Own Words: Technology is crucial to spurring growth
December 2007 > Pacific Street Memories
November 2007 > WISE Women
October 2007 > Vincent Empowers Teachers, Students With Technology
August 2007 > Orientation Leader Represents UNO with Exuberance
August 2007 > In His Own Words: On Summer School
July 2007 > Changing Faces
June 2007 > MVHC @ 50
February 2007 > At Your Service
December 2006 > A Job Well Done
September 2006 > Australian Finches Aid UNO Professor's Research
July 2006 > Finding His Way
May 2006 > Calming the Anxious
April 2006 > The Kid's Doing All Right
March 2006 > Shot of a Lifetime
March 2006 > Going for Four
February 2006 > Standing Tall with Sierra
January 2006 > In-Your-Face Geology
January 2006 > Religion Meets Film
January 2006 > Finding a Home Port
December 2005 > Man of the Cloth
November 2005 > Volunteer Field Work
November 2005 > Charting the Unknown
October 2005 > Developing Business Overseas
October 2005 > After The Storm
September 2005 > Building Better Officers
September 2005 > Saving the Planet
August 2005 > Making the Abstract Tangible
August 2005 > Helping Neighborhoods Help Themselves
July 2005 > Improving Health through Technology
July 2005 > Reading the Signs
June 2005 > Small Steps to a Better Life
April 2005 > Honest Art
March 2005 > Sharing The Wealth
March 2005 > Engineering His Own Masterpiece
February 2005 > Native Daughter, Native Dreams
February 2005 > Puck Stops Here
January 2005 > Stressing the Familiar
January 2005 > Connecting the Community
January 2005 > Ticket to Cooperstown
December 2004 > Spirit of the Season
December 2004 > Nicholas Stergiou: Research in Motion
fall 2004 > Alzheimer's: Caring for the Caregiver's
fall 2004 > David Hawk: All In
fall 2004 > Anadelia Lamas: Planting Roots
fall 2004 > Dean Olson: Assessing the Threat
fall 2004 > Tom Warren: From the Chiefs to the Chief