Creating an Energetic Learning Environment

Katie Essing
An assistant teaching professor in the marketing department in the Robert J. Trulaske, Sr. College of Business, Katie Essing is also affiliate faculty in the Honors College. Honors students recently selected her as this year’s Honors Outstanding Faculty. Photo by Logan Jackson.

As an undergraduate student at the University of Missouri, Katie Essing was an active part of the Honors College. Now, as an Honors affiliate faculty member, Essing has the opportunity to share her expertise with numerous Honors students.

“It’s definitely come full circle for me,” said Essing, who is an assistant teaching professor in the marketing department in the Robert J. Trulaske, Sr. College of Business. “As a student, the Honors College felt like home. The courses within the college were some of my favorites, and the entire experience really helped me throughout my academic journey. As a professor, it’s incredible to work with Honors students. They’re very engaged and go above and beyond what’s assigned.”

Essing’s dedication to those students, as well as offering a fun and energetic learning environment, led Honors students to select her as this year’s Honors Outstanding Faculty. She will speak at both Honors commencement ceremonies.

 “I was completely shocked and very honored to receive this award,” Essing said. “It’s incredibly humbling. I definitely remember my Honors graduation celebration, so it’s exciting to be part of the upcoming ceremonies as affiliate faculty.”

Essing teaches several Honors sections of her marketing courses, such as “Integrated Marketing Communications” and “Digital Marketing.” While her classroom style does include some lectures, she leans heavily into her 20-year retail career to give all her students numerous experiential learning opportunities.

“I really try to give students an opportunity to see what they may face during their professional careers,” Essing said. “I want them to be as prepared as possible as they enter the workforce. Having spent so much time in the retail industry, I feel like I have a lot to offer them in terms of real-world examples.”

Katie Essing receiving an award from Catherine Rymph.
Essing was recently honored during the annual Honors College spring awards ceremony. Photo by Logan Jackson.

The Honors sections of Essing’s courses include some extra work and projects. Essing said she enjoys being able to dive in a bit deeper in those sections.

“Honors students are very determined, and the engagement is always very exciting,” Essing said. “There is so much discussion. I really appreciate being able to provide those extra resources for them.”

Essing grew up in a rural Missouri town and said she felt slightly overwhelmed at times with the size of the Mizzou campus when she first started as a Tiger. The Honors College provided her with some smaller classes, which not only reminded her of home but also allowed her to make connections with her professors.

“I only had around 30 students in my high school class, so while I loved Mizzou and knew I wanted to be a Tiger, it was still a fairly big change,” Essing said. “My Honors courses offered a nice change of pace and gave me that close-knit feel.”

Essing was a student in the Trulaske College of Business and was part of the Walton Scholars program, which opened the door for her to learn more about the retail industry. She fell in love with every facet of the work and after earning her degree she spent the next 20 years working within the retail industry.

“I really enjoyed my time in the College of Business and learned so much,” Essing said. “I’m also incredibly thankful for the Walton Scholars program. That work opened an entire new world for me; one that I’m still very passionate about.”

While Essing was busy building her retail career, she never lost her connection to Mizzou. She was part of the Marketing Advisory Board, served as an adjunct professor for a retail-centered course and shared her expertise with MU students whenever she could.

A few years ago, a marketing teaching position opened in Trulaske and Essing made the decision to become a full-time educator.

“It’s so rewarding to work with business students at MU,” Essing said. “It’s great to see them learn and grow. It’s also very unique to work alongside some of the professors who taught me. It’s just incredible all the way around.”