The Hidden “Cem” of Communications


SC Contributing Writer

Dr. Cem Zeytinoglu (Gem Zay-teen-ow-loo) is an Associate Professor for the Communications Department at East Stroudsburg University (ESU).

One of Dr. Zeytinoglu’s favorite things about working at ESU is the environment.

He believes the size is “not too big and not too small.” Zeytinoglu said he feels ESU is small enough to invest in his students and build up relationships with them, but big enough to develop growing programs. Zeytinoglu started a chapter of Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) on the ESU campus. He serves as PRSSA ‘s faculty advisor.

“Teaching is about inspiration,” said Zeytinoglu. “I want to teach my students to teach themselves. I love exposing ideas to them and inspiring them to learn more.”

Zeytinoglu stated he highly values access to resources and he wants to make resources available for his students.

One way he does this is through PRSSA.

“Cem has personally done a lot for me not only as a student but he has also helped me transform into a better person,” said ESU PRSSA President, Karianna Simpkins. “ Every semester I make it a point to take a class with him, I wouldn’t be able to handle a semester without his humorous yet insightful lectures.”

Other students of his and PRSSA members have expressed how Dr. Cem Zeytinoglu have impacted their lives. “Cem is one of my favorite professors. I love the atmosphere he sets for classes and how he encourages his students to work hard. I would not be the student that I am today if it wasn’t for Cem,” PRSSA secretary, Julia Marrero said.

Dr. Cem Zeytinoglu said his vision for his students is for them “to develop intellectual, responsible, and civil-minded communication” and to be prepared for a job with elements of innovation.

One way he attempts to equip his students for a career is through bringing them to public relations conferences and providing opportunities and connections in the work force.

PRSSA vice president, Kathryn Bock, is one student who talked about her appreciation for conferences and the job she has—largely because of Zeytinoglu.

She is going to be attending a National Conference at the end of October, and said she is excited about both the workshops and the opportunity to network with future employers.

Bock said, “I now work as a writing and marketing assistant for Research and Economic Development here at ESU.  I am able to do work that prepares me for a career in public relations.  It is an amazing and rewarding experience, an experience I have Cem to thank for!”

When Dr. Zeytinoglu was asked what he valued most in life.

He responded, “doing whatever task is at hand the very best I can.”

He expressed a desire to be a lifelong learner with a strong work ethic with marketable skill sets.

Dr. Cem Zeytinoglu has teaching experience from five different universities.

He has written five publications, presented at more than twenty-nine conferences, and has had numerous positions of academic and educational service. Zeytinoglu additionally is the editor for the Pennsylvania Communication Association Annual.

Dr. Patricia Kennedy acknowledged his skill by saying, “Our department was very lucky when Cem agreed to come work with us. He is a fascinating colleague, a critical thinker, widely read and highly skilled in public relations. I especially enjoy his balanced approach to life and his wicked sense of humorous word play. What he has done to bring the PR track to ESU and to raise the profile of the track is admirable.”

Another of his fellow professors, Wenjie Yan, described Zeytinoglu as “indispensible” and “instrumental.”

“He not only teaches courses in PR but also creates many opportunities for PR students to practice what they learn in the classroom,” said Yan.

Yan continued “Cem puts work above everything else, constantly thinking about how to improve the department in terms of its curriculum content, student advising, and creating career opportunities for our students.”

“Cem is always tirelessly working to enhance students’ learning experiences at ESU,” said Yan.

Part of what inspires Zeytinoglu is how mentors and professors come alongside him and helped him.

Dr. Cem Zeytinoglu  grew up in Turkey and lived there until one of his professors, Steven Boswell, challenged him to dream big.

Boswell told him, “There is a whole ocean to explore and you are limiting yourself to one little beach.” Zeytinoglu always dreamed of going to the United States, but it took the encouragement of his mentor to make it a reality.

It was not until 1997 that moved to Kentucky to study at Morehead State University, Kentucky.

He has been in the United States ever since.

His favorite part of moving to the United States was the freedom he was given to study whatever he wanted to study and the educational opportunities the country presented.

Dr. Cem Zeytinoglu said free time is a rare commodity for him due to the amount of time he dedicates to his job.

In the few moments of free time he does have, he enjoys reading.

His wife, Yildiz, commented about how she loves “his hunger for knowledge.”

Yildiz said, “I love it how he goes out of his way to help people. He always does his best.”

“Cem is a kind gentleman who is smart, intelligent, and trustworthy. He gives such great advice. I could keep going about how wonderful he is, but I think I am a little biased,” she said.

Zeytinoglu met his wife when he was attending Anadolu University in Turkey. One activity they enjoy doing together is watching movies such as “Lord of the Rings.”

They have two daughters. Elif is six years old. Her name means “graceful.”

Elif said her favorite things to do with her father were watching animal documentaries, playing tennis, getting piggy back rides, and playing “the wonder zoo game.”

She said one thing that makes her father so special is that he is a teacher. Zeytinoglu’s youngest daughter is Esin. Her name means “inspiration.”

She is twenty months old. When interviewed she did not have any formal statements to share, but she smiled and exclaimed “Baba” (which means father in Turkish) in a seemingly excited way.

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