Skip to main content

Jane Kokernak

Senior Communication Specialist

Contact

Office Location

440 Huntington Avenue
332 West Village H
Boston, MA 02115

Mailing Address

Northeastern University
ATTN: Jane Kokernak, 202 WVH
360 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115-5000

Biography

  • MA in English, Simmons College
  • BA in English and German Studies, Wellesley College

What are the brief specifics of your educational/career background?

I entered Wellesley College with the intention of double majoring in English and Math or Chemistry, having excelled in those in high school. While I did take courses in all of them, I focused on English and German Studies, liking the challenge of studying literature and language. After a gap of more than 10 years and a whole career, I went to Simmons College for an MA in English, and I started teaching there. I’m delighted that by teaching technical communication I can use the tools of my trade – words, ideas, language, expression – in connection with some of my earlier interests in math and science.

What are the key aspects of your role at Northeastern? What do you enjoy most/find most interesting about what you do?

I’ve been teaching technical communication at the university level for more than a decade, and I’ve been writing for clients and my own projects for even longer. My CCIS role allows me to wear both hats – educator and writer – in the same job for the first time! My practice as writer of proposals, for example, informs the way I teach students how to write them. The same is true in the other direction: by engaging with students in the classroom, I am inspired by their ideas, questions, and strategies that I then bring back to my own writing. Also, there is a strong collaborative streak in the CCIS community and Northeastern at large, and I know that whenever people work together the result exceeds any single person’s contribution. Plus, good project teams are enjoyable!

What’s the most compelling thing to you about the research/work that goes on at the College?

In my early meetings at CCIS for this position, I learned the school’s ethos — “computer science for everyone” – and it instantly connected with my egalitarian spirit and long-held belief that education must be both accessible and transformative. Furthermore, in learning more about all the research projects going on among students and faculty, I am fascinated and encouraged by all the ways that computer science is vital to our lives and the world.

Where did you grow up/spend the most defining years of your child/young adulthood?

I am a life-long Massachusetts resident with a great love for its landscape and proximity to the ocean, as well as an affinity for the culture, history, and politics. Growing up in a small town near Worcester, my siblings and I had an outdoor childhood: playing in the woods near our house and camping, biking, ice skating, and skiing as a family. Even now, though my work as teacher and writer is largely intellectual and social, I enjoy the physical aspects of teaching, presenting, interacting with people, and working on a big urban campus that requires lots of walking. I’m a gardener and runner, and I still ice skate when I get the chance.

What led you to work in your field and/or study at your college? Any reason in particular why you opted for those particular schools/careers (family history, a program you were excited about, a city you were dying to live in)?

After I graduated from college, I worked for more than a decade in nonprofit development, wanting to put my communication skills to good use in improving the world. I’m both practical and optimistic. When I was in my mid-30s I went to graduate school simply because I wanted to. While studying for the MA in English, I took an inspiring teaching methods class and started tutoring in the Writing Center and TA-ing in literature classes. I was hooked! After I finished the degree, I made a career shift, eventually specializing in technical communication, which I developed in my 10 years at MIT as lecturer in communication-intensive science and engineering courses. I love being in a profession that helps others use language with precision and purpose in order to share ideas, solve problems, and advance knowledge – ultimately for the greater good.