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MLK speech inspired history professor

Jeff Janowick

Jeff Janowick has taught history at Lansing Community College for 20 year.  Courtesy photo

Chloe Gregg

By Chloe Gregg
Editor in Chief

Jeff Janowick said he fell in love with teaching at Lansing Community College his first year and has not left since. For over 20 years, Janowick has remained a history professor at LCC.

“I did my graduate work at MSU, and realized that I enjoyed teaching more than research,” Janowick said. “So, when a job opened at LCC, I applied – and found that I enjoyed teaching community college students.

“LCC puts its focus on teaching, and we also have great students. It turned out to be a great choice for me. I eventually got a full-time position, and have been at LCC ever since.”

Janowick attended graduate school after college, which brought him to Michigan State University. There, he worked as a grader for classes until he eventually could start teaching on his own. This is when he realized teaching was his calling card.

Janowick said he had always loved history, and his family had played a large role in cultivating that love.

“My dad loved history and was always reading and watching old movies,” Janowick said. “I spent a lot of time at the library and watching documentaries. I actually started my undergrad as an engineer, but switched to history pretty quickly. I was a lot better at history than calculus!”

Janowick said he genuinely enjoyed the classes he got to take while majoring in history, including sociology, philosophy and literature.

“I actually remember what made me want to keep pursuing a career in history: I was watching a documentary, and there was an excerpt from Martin Luther King’s ‘Mountaintop’ speech, and I got chills watching it,” Janowick said. “I just knew that this was something I wanted to spend time learning about, and to devote my life to. The rest is history.”

In his free time, Janowick said he enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife. According to Janowick, he and his wife enjoy hiking, camping, traveling and spending time with their two poodles.

When he’s not out exploring the world, Janowick said he can be found at home with a nice book and some old movies.

Colleague and friend of Janowick, fellow LCC History Professor Anne Heutsche, said Janowick is a collaborative, insightful and kind coworker.

“Prof. Janowick is a thoughtful professor,” Heutsche said. “His classroom is one that is filled with curiosity, questioning and engagement. Students are encouraged to think critically and historically about ideas and issues in order for them to gain skills to help them navigate a complex and nuanced society.”

Kevin Brown, a history professor at LCC who has worked with Janowick for nearly 20 years, also only had good things to say about his colleague.

“A great history teacher has to care deeply about three things,” Brown said. “They must love their discipline; they must care about their students and their learning; and they must be committed to constantly improving their teaching. Jeff cares about all three. He is a great colleague and teacher."

Janowick offered some advice for anyone interested in following a similar path that he took into the history field.

“History is a great major to follow a lot of different paths – you don’t have to just be a history professor or teacher,” Janowick said. “History can be a great foundation for law school, or for anything that requires research skills, writing, or being able to evaluate evidence.

“It turns out that being able to think critically is a skill that is needed in lots of things. I often think that it is worth remembering that if you love history, you can keep reading and studying even if it isn’t your job – and the skills from a history major can be used in a lot of different careers.”

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