Faces: Christy Seifert
Wonder Woman: Dr. Christy Seifert uses her superhuman powers to prove that anything is possible
by Johanna Snow (MSC '14)
Over the last 10 years, Christy Seifert has become somewhat of a legend in the Westminster community. Christy is not just a member of the Westminster faculty, a favorite professor, an accomplished writer, a thought leader, a mentor, and a friend: she’s a force of nature. She has the mystical ability to grade papers, conduct research, write books, and appear on the Today Show to discuss sexuality in young-adult popular culture—all while never letting a single student feel neglected.
Christy is a born-and-bred North Dakota girl. Growing up, she loved books and reading, but when it came time to head off to college, she was unsure about what subject to study and what direction to take in her life. At the time—and still today—she was fascinated with human interaction and the inner workings of government and policy creation. She enrolled at North Dakota State University where she studied political science. From there she planned to attend law school at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks—but Mother Nature sent her a sign that her plans needed to change. That year there was so much snow that Grand Forks flooded when it thawed. The school closed, and housing was scarce. Christy had to reassess her options. “I realized that I don’t like conflict, I don’t like arguing, I don’t like paperwork, and I don’t like bureaucracy. I didn’t know enough about the profession to know what else lawyers do,” she says.
Her love of books and reading inspired her to stay at North Dakota State to pursue an MA in English. It was there that she discovered her passion for rhetoric and realized that pursuing her passions could provide a viable career path.
While working on her master’s degree, Christy felt at home. “People read books, talked about them, and talked about how the world works and how to analyze it. I had found my people,” she says.
For the first time, she had a clear idea about how she wanted to spend her life, that it was possible to make a career out of her passions. “I realized I could teach people about books and rhetoric, spend time investigating interesting things related to business and organizational communication, and write books on the side,” explains Christy.
Her new aspiration to build a career as an academic necessitated more education, so she began work on her PhD at Oklahoma State University. While completing her dissertation—a rhetorical analysis of countermovements such as creationism and global-warming denial—Christy moved to Utah to teach at Salt Lake Community College. In the summer of 2005, after the completion of her dissertation, she came to Westminster College to teach in the communication department.
Christy quickly developed a love for Westminster. She was teaching small classes and cherished the opportunity to build relationships with each of her students.
“The students at Westminster College are amazing. Because of Westminster’s size, I know every student in my classes. I know what their goals are and what they want to do. That makes Westminster special,” says Christy.
Christy has been teaching in the competency-based Master of Strategic Communication (MSC) program since 2013 and currently serves as the program’s director. Through her experience with the MSC program, she has become an advocate for the value of mentored teaching, competency-based education, and collaborative learning.
“The greatest thing the faculty can give students is that ability to learn on their own,” she explains. In that way, students leave the program with more than just new skills: they are also prepared to solve problems and continue to learn throughout their lives.
Moonlighting as an Author
Christy is a well-established writer and an inspiration to aspiring writers all over campus. Her articles in Bitch magazine on young adult popular culture have gained her national media attention and cemented her as a leading expert in the field. She has published her own young adult novel, The Predicteds, as well as one work of nonfiction, Virginity in Young Adult Literature After Twilight.
Christy’s next book, entitled Whoppers: History’s Most Outrageous Lies and Liars, is due out in September 2015. Whoppers is a work of young adult nonfiction that tells the stories of several famous liars throughout history. Like her last book, Whoppers allowed her to indulge her love of both narrative storytelling and research. She focused on lying because of her interest in human behaviors and motivations.
What’s next for Christy? She’s hoping to publish a series of young adult nonfiction books in a similar vein to Whoppers, which may include books about famous backstabbers and jerks. Eventually, she hopes to return to fiction writing as well.
Favorite books: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser, Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld, The Secret History by Donna Tartt, and Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton.
Celebrity crush: Christy won’t publicly admit to one, but says she has “friend” crushes on Jon Stewart, Tina Fey, and Stephen Colbert.
Favorite book or TV characters: Flawed characters in general. Christy loves characters who are liars, are cheats, or are questionable in some way because they make a story more interesting. Don Draper comes to mind.
Guilty pleasure: MTV’s Jersey Shore. She had to watch it for an article she wrote for Bitch magazine and got hooked.
Funniest lie: Christy once spun a yarn based on the plot of a Brady Bunch episode in the hopes of putting off a door-to-door salesperson instead of just saying “no.”
About the Westminster Review
The Westminster Review is Westminster University’s bi-annual alumni magazine that is distributed to alumni and community members. Each issue aims to keep alumni updated on campus current events and highlights the accomplishments of current students, professors, and Westminster alum.