Huckstep-2792Dr. Susan Huckstep,
Associate Professor,
Communication Studies/Journalism

Phone: 434-791-5751
Office: Frith 419

How has Dr. Susan Huckstep managed to avoid getting the nickname Peppermint Patty? The answer is, we do not know. You’d think that after all these years …

Here’s the story. You know those delicious York Peppermint Patties? She hands them out. Like they were candy (which they are). Do something wonderful, she gives you a Patty. Take a test or an exam, have a Patty. Need to be consoled about something? Patty. She even takes a boatload to graduation, stands in line and hands them out to her graduating students.

Truth is, she is a talented, accomplished and respected professor … and much more. She writes, she’s a photographer, and she is a huge supporter of Averett’s athletic teams, cheering them on with great enthusiasm. She is there for her students, wherever “there” happens to be.

Originally from Charlottesville, Virginia, Huckstep visited colleges in person during her own final year in high school, and she stopped at Averett on her way to visit a school in North Carolina.

“I was immediately impressed by how friendly everyone was. It really was like one big family. Other schools had athletes separate from ‘regular’ students; not at Averett. Also, I liked that you could walk from the campus to just about anywhere you needed to go — it’s a real comfortable, friendly, convenient neighborhood setting.”

She happily enrolled at Averett and quickly discovered mentors who would guide her for many years. “The people who helped me when I was a student here continued to mentor and help me as I went through graduate work,” she says. As you would expect, she now is filling that role of ongoing mentor herself.

One aspect of education at Averett especially appeals to her — service- learning, where students provide a service to the off-campus community, serve an internship or perform some kind of research.

“Students in a service-learning environment just light up. We do a whole lot of internships, and they’re wonderful experiences.”

Huckstep also works to shape her classes to the individual students. “We get to know our students really well,” she says. “If I know that one wants to be a coach, for instance, or an entrepreneur or whatever, I shape the communications theory to fit that. It becomes personalized.”

One recent case shows both service learning and Huckstep’s encouraging personalization. “I recently talked a student into signing up for Advanced Public Relations, a service-learning class providing PR in the community. He resisted, saying it looks like too much work, others have great skills but I do not, I can’t contribute, etc.

“Yes, I agreed, it will require stretching yourself, but I think you can do it. He stayed and ended up being one of the stars of the class. In fact, he did so well that the community organization hired him at the end of the semester.”

You can bet he also got a Peppermint Patty.


Doctor of Philosophy, Communication Studies, Regent University

Master of Arts, Communication Studies, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Bachelor of Arts, English/Journalism/Communication, Averett University

Additional Master’s level study in Journalism and English