Faculty 360: Jennifer Hughes

Jennifer HughesWhat's the best piece of advice you've ever received?
My Italian grandmother was very wise and told me to always keep my finger in the pie. Now, I like pie as much as the next person, but what I think she meant was a woman should always retain some independence and ability to fend for themselves. My grandma, Vera, graduated from high school at the ripe young age of 60. She was class valedictorian of East Detroit Night School. Atta girl.

What memorable moment in your life shaped who you are today?
A memorable moment which significantly shaped my life was my husband's loss of eyesight following complications surrounding multiple sclerosis. Because of his illness, I needed a full-time job with benefits to support and provide health insurance for my family. I was fortunate enough to get a full-time position—visiting professor of social work at Bluffton University. My life became similar to the children's book "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" because, after teaching for a year, I decided I needed to get my Ph.D. During my studies, I focused my research efforts on caregivers of MS patients. I guess if life hands you lemons, you somehow figure it out.

What new interest(s) are you pursuing?
I recently finished my Ph.D. in social work from the University of Utah, and I am very excited to use some of my newly acquired skills for writing and publication. I am fascinated by my research findings, and I am working on pulling out some interesting information and seeing if I can turn that work into a journal article or two. At this point in my career, I would like to contribute to the greater body of social work knowledge.

If you could sit down and chat with anyone—living or dead—for an hour, who would it be and why?
I would absolutely LOVE to have a sit-down conversation with President Barack Obama. I find his leadership inspiring. I feel like I am experiencing a huge part of history by campaigning for, helping elect and supporting the first African-American president. I actually shook his hand once at church, saw him at a political rally on another occasion, and I named my dog BO!

Dr. Jennifer Hughes is an associate professor and chair of social work at Bluffton, where she has taught since 2005.