Ann Vander Kooi Minnick

Courageous Communicator


Ann Vander Kooi '88 Minnick, associate professor of communications, is proud of her Dutch heritage. (All of her relatives can be traced back to the Netherlands.) She has been an active member of the Orange City Dutch Heritage Boosters since 1986.

What inspired you to enter the communications field?
I always enjoyed public speaking, writing and people. When I was Orange City's tulip queen in 1984, I did a lot of media interviews, which sparked my interest in communications. I remember when one of my interviews was cut short by a presidential news conference. I guess the president of the United States can upstage the tulip queen any day.

Northwestern requires journalism and public relations students to complete an internship. What makes that hands-on experience so important?
I can give students all the tools for communications, help them learn to think critically and make ethical decisions, but I can't plop them into a job where they have to put it all into place. Internships help students experience what it's like to work with people and make tough decisions. I had a great internship experience, and my supervisor—whom I still count as a friend and mentor—helped me land my first job.

Prior to joining Northwestern's faculty, you worked in PR for a number of hospitals. What's your tie to healthcare?
I grew up the daughter of a doctor. I was used to the medical profession, but I knew I didn't want to be a healthcare provider. I learned early on in my career that I was able to take complex medical information and present it in an understandable format for the layperson.

What did you appreciate most about your time as a Northwestern student?
I was a writer, advertising manager and editor for the Beacon; I was floor manager, reporter and anchor for the campus TV news show; and I was the traffic controller and anchor for the campus radio station. I also did the photography/darkroom work for the community newspaper. All those experiences set me apart from other graduates and helped me in my career path.

What do you enjoy doing away from work?
I've been very busy at Orange City's Century Home over the years, wallpapering, painting, decorating, and writing its history. I freeze and can my own produce and make strawberry-rhubarb jam. I like to bring my co-workers fresh vegetables and flowers from my garden. But my family is my true passion, and I like to keep busy with our sons' activities.

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