Communication Status: Vulnerable
In 2006, Brooke Dunbar donned the cap and gown, received a degree in Communication from Messiah College and headed off into the great big world of marketing. However, Dunbar quickly realized two things: one, she actually wanted to be a teacher, and, two, nothing would stand in her way. So she made that dream a reality. Now, ten years after graduation with a master’s degree in hand, Dunbar teaches part-time at Messiah, studies Digital Communication at Regent University as a full-time doctoral student, and raises her 6-year-old son.
Dunbar’s busy schedule makes every day unique. “If I’m not in the classroom, I’m usually in the library drinking coffee and working on some type of grading or research,” says Dunbar. Her love for both research and vulnerability led her to partner with her graduate school advisor in investigating how individuals cope with eating disorders as anonymous users on Reddit. “I spend a lot of time on Reddit,” says Dunbar. “Some of the posts about struggles with eating disorders are heartbreaking, so if you ever see someone in the library sobbing in front of a computer, that’s probably me.”
According to Dunbar, the Internet allows people to form more honest connections. Internet communication takes the mundane, “how are you,” and “I’m fine,” conversations out of commission, instead focusing on more vulnerable topics. “I want to figure out how we can take that freedom to be honest that seems to happen when we think we are anonymous and put that back into our face-to-face interactions,” she says. Dunbar’s research prompts her to discover how people can better and more authentically love others.
For Dunbar, “love letters” from her students exemplify some of the most meaningful displays of love she has received. Dunbar keeps some of the notes in a picture frame to pull out and read when she feels overwhelmed. “I decided I wanted to teach because I thought I could influence students in a positive way,” says Dunbar. “I had no idea how much they would teach me. I’m constantly challenged by them in every good way.”
Dunbar loves the candid and thought-provoking conversations that take place among faculty and students at Messiah College. “I want to be in a place where new ideas and discourse about faith are welcomed and encouraged. It’s how I grow.” Messiah taught Dunbar that faith looks different for everyone, and that others’ perspectives to lead to faith discoveries that don’t fit in a box. She would love for “people to see each other as God’s precious babies and see the value in every single person.” It’s this mindset of open, honest communication and a love-centered life that drives Dunbar’s desire to serve as a great teacher, student and mom. - Miriam Thurber ‘19