Updated on March 6, 2019
“Where Do You Want to Be in Five Years?”: A Profile of Professor Judy Buller
The first time I had Dr. Judy Buller as a professor was during my freshman year in Introduction to Communications at Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU). As I took a seat, the first thing she said was, “Let’s take a moment and close our eyes and think of where we want to be in five years.” I was so confused, because I was barely making it through the day as it was. Four years later, and four classes with Dr. Buller later, the answer to her question feels so much more attainable than it was back then.
Dr. Buller herself also took a while to discover her career goals. Right out of college, she thought she wanted to work in broadcast news, and she did go into that field. As she entered her early 30s, she understood that she wanted to do something different than work in TV. She went back to school to earn her PhD in Journalism at the University of Texas, Austin. Teaching came soon afterwards, as she realized that she wanted a career that would benefit others.
Dr. Buller came across NDNU when she moved back to the Bay Area. She knew she wanted to steer away from auditorium-sized classrooms. She explains, “You don’t really have a connection with professors at traditional big colleges. I knew that I would want a connection with my students and my colleagues as a professor.” At NDNU, she makes sure that she knows every student in the Communication Department that she chairs. She checks in to see where their plans shift and progress during their years at our university.
Dr. Buller has many memories of her years at NDNU, but one of the most treasured ones was when she was given the George M. Keller Teaching Excellence Award in 2012. Students nominate a professor who motivates students, succeeds as an academic advisor, and has made an overall outstanding contribution to NDNU.
I can see why she received the award. I remember moments where Dr. Buller would come up to me and check up on how I was doing, including when I did not have any classes with her. Even before my senior year, she always reminded me that I needed to really think about what I want my career to be. She encouraged me to apply for internships before I was required to. Although it was stressful to apply for internships with no experience, I believe that her check-ins and motivation have given me higher confidence as I leave the university.
If there is anything that I have learned from Dr. Buller, it’s to aim as high as I can possibly go— apply for the job, travel to that country, or try out that new interest! Trying is better than not knowing. Everyone in college deserves a professor who helps them believe that they can achieve anything—Dr. Buller is that professor to me.
Jerileen Rae Ho is a senior Communication major at Notre Dame de Namur University.
For more information on applying to Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU), please visit the admissions page.