Bringing the Real World to the Classroom – Wings Spring 2024

Bringing the Real World to the Classroom – Wings Spring 2024

Heritage adjunct faculty are critical to the university’s programs – but more than filling a need, they bring vigor and perspective.

“Because I love it!”

In his own words, that’s why adjunct marketing instructor Aaron Welling teaches at Heritage University.

It is not an uncommon sentiment among the university’s adjunct faculty. Educated, highly experienced individuals often join Heritage’s adjunct faculty because they’re excited about their subject matter.

They also bring valuable real-world experience to their classrooms and to the students they teach.

“Many adjunct faculty hold full-time positions in addition to teaching, so they draw on their work experiences,” said Melissa Hill, Ph.D., provost and vice president of Academic Affairs. “Through their presence and instruction, students gain a deeper understanding of what to expect in their discipline.

“Heritage’s adjunct instructors bring a wonderful combination of their years of expertise, current experiences, and an energy that really serves their students.”


Adjunct professors at Heritage comprise more than half the university’s faculty, making them critical to the success of its programs.

“There are about 80 adjunct faculty members teaching at Heritage at any given moment, and the list of what they bring to the student experience is just as long,” Hill said.

“Our criminal justice program has adjuncts who work as judges and police officers. In education, students learn from instructors who teach in area schools, some are even Heritage alums. Business courses are taught by executives and entrepreneurs. These are just a few examples.”

The instructors profiled here represent just a few of such examples.

Melissa Andrewjeski has held key positions with the state’s Department of Corrections for more than 30 years, including serving as superintendent over the largest adult male prison facility in the state.

Social work instructor Jacob Campbell was instrumental in developing and instituting the social worker role in his school district’s special education classrooms.

Education instructor John Kerr has received awards and accolades for his many years of teaching.

Nursing instructor Shameka Phillips was a solo provider in a busy, rural North Carolina clinic, a most “challenging and rewarding position.”

Business instructor Welling has developed marketing strategies for numerous Fortune 100 companies.

“When you’re out there executing theory and strategies, you have insight into what matters, as well as what happens when you learn you would have done something differently,” Hill said. “That’s a really valuable thing to bring to our students.”

In nursing, said Phillips, current examples help students connect what they’re learning to what they’ll see during clinicals and as practicing nurses.

“We can offer guidance on navigating the current workforce environment and other career-related pursuits,” Phillips said.

Sometimes, students even get the opportunity to visit their instructor’s workplace, as students in Andrewjeski’s criminal justice class do almost every semester. They tour Coyote Ridge Corrections Center, what Andrewjeski describes as “a safe, humanistic facility where people have opportunities to become better neighbors.”

“It’s helped students identify career goals and a path for their future, whether in criminal justice or social work or both.”


Between the current perspective of adjunct faculty and the eagerness of the students who learn from them, adjunct instructors say there’s a positive energy in their classrooms.

Kerr brings the lively approach he takes with his daytime students at Granger High School into his evening classroom.

“I love the people and the students, and my classroom at Heritage is similar – cheerful, low-stress, and highly supportive,” Kerr said.

“If you really enjoy your work, that energy comes with you.”

Welling tries to make his classroom similarly enjoyable and engaging, livening things up with stories about companies he’s done marketing for and practical applications to what’s happening in the world today.

“We’ve talked about Southwest Airlines forgetting to put money into operations and watching their system melt on the busiest travel day of the year,” Welling said. “And Elon Musk taking a tried and tested brand that people love and changing it to something as esoteric as X.

“It’s engaging to talk about what’s happening right now and what we would do if we were in their place.”

In Phillips’s nursing classes, she and her students interact “like a big family.”

“We generally start each class with a mood check- in, a statement about this being a space of respect, equity, and compassion, that we will center active listening and mindful communication in our interactions with each other, staff, faculty, and others we may encounter.

“It helps us begin the day’s content with mindfulness.”


Campbell teaches a class where students continue from the first semester to the next. At the end of the first semester, he asks students to reflect on the past semester and to share thoughts about the semester ahead.

“One student told me, ‘I like this class a lot, mostly because you make the environment feel like a safe space… It made me feel like my feelings and thoughts were important and also allowed me to think deeper.’ This is what I want,” Campbell said. “Class needs to feel safe and rigorous – that’s what allows students to grow and learn.” Heritage Eagle


SHAMEKA PHILLIPS, PH.D. is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Washington School of Medicine/Seattle Children’s Research Institute. She is a first-generation college student who earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing with university and nursing honors, a Master of Science in Nursing— Family Primary Care, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Phillips joined Heritage’s nursing faculty in 2023.




JOHN KERR teaches science and career and technical education (CTE) in the Granger School District. He has advanced proficiency in Spanish and intermediate proficiency in Mandarin Chinese. He is a Tri-Cities Regional Crystal Apple Award winner and was the ESD 123 Regional Teacher of the Year in 2011. Kerr joined Heritage’s education faculty in 2022.








AARON WELLING is Co-Founder & CEO of Sonar Insights, a market research and strategy consulting firm based in Richland, Wash. He graduated from Brigham Young University with a Spanish degree and a communications minor. He graduated with a master’s in business administration in international management from Thunderbird, The American Graduate School of Business. Welling joined Heritage’s business and accounting faculty in 2018.






MELISSA ANDREWJESKI is the Assistant Secretary of the Women’s Prison Division for the Washington State Department of Corrections and is responsible for the division’s strategic vision and leadership. She has a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Washington University, focusing on social work and a minor in chemical dependency counseling, and a master’s degree in social work from Walla Walla University. Andrewjeski joined Heritage’s Criminal Justice faculty in 2009.





JACOB CAMPBELL, PH.D., is a social worker in the special education department of the Pasco School District. He also runs his own business, Locus of Transformation, which supervises licensed social workers and provides consulting. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from Eastern Washington University and graduated with his Ph.D. in Transformative Studies from the California Institute of Integral Studies. Campbell joined Heritage’s social work faculty in 2013. Heritage Eagle