Despite being born to a family of educators, Irene Thrower opted to pursue public relations after graduating from the University of Dallas with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She earned her master’s degree in communication with an emphasis in public relations from the University of Houston and entered the corporate arena.
After a series of jobs in non-profit communication and development, marketing and public relations, she found that the challenges and career satisfaction she craved were diminishing.
That all changed when she was presented with the opportunity to teach at a community college. Thrower quickly fell in love with making a difference in the lives of others as an educator. She taught speech communications at the community college level for more than 20 years. She has also served as department chair of communication and fine arts, interim vice president of academic affairs, and interim director of staff development for Tarrant County Community College.
Now she is a faculty member at A&M-Commerce, where she is the design incubator for the College of Innovation and Design. She joined the team to help research, develop and implement new competency-based programs.
A native Texan, Thrower has been married for 21 years and has raised two sons. Her family loves pets. They have four dogs—who they call the Big Bang Gang: Penny, Leonard, Sheldon and Raj — along with two cats, Rosie and Midge.
A Conversation with Irene
What would you tell a student who is thinking about attending A&M-Commerce?
A&M-Commerce is a very student-centric institution that is a supportive environment for a very diverse student population. Commerce, Texas is a small town that offers a nice setting for a college environment. There are so many options and opportunities for students to explore different degrees and activities in order to find the right thing for them to become involved in the community.
What draws you to your discipline?
I firmly believe that the most crucial thing for any human being is learning how to assert and communicate to others their goals and needs. Learning how to communicate intrapersonally and interpersonally is the number one way to be able to meet goals personally and professionally. While communication is what most people believe is natural and easy, it is a learned and complicated process that has many nuances and must be practiced and finessed over time.
What has been your favorite course to teach?
I think that my favorite course to teach is interpersonal communication because I think it has the most application to change an individual’s everyday life. Humans are social beings and we spend most of our life in relationships with other people. If we learn to manage those relationships better with more effective communication, we can then become better people and thus better for the people that we care about.
Tell us about a project you are currently working on or recently completed.
I am working on my Ph.D. and I am very close to finishing my coursework. It has been very rewarding, but also I am very ready to be working on my dissertation and completed so that I can fully concentrate on family and career rather than feeling so stretched thin.
- B.A., English, University of Dallas, 1996
- M.A., Communications and Public Relations, University of Houston, 1999
Honors and Awards
- Chancellor’s Award for Exemplary Teaching, Tarrant County College
- Higher education faculty development
- Higher education competency-based education new program development and curriculum design
- Higher education academic affairs
- Communication studies, interpersonal and public speaking communication research