Former student become published speech professor

by REBEKAH HARVEY

Before becoming a professor at South Plains College, Kelley Finley was a student who was involved in many campus organizations.

After getting her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Wayland Baptist University and Texas Tech University, respectively, she returned to SPC for the opportunity to teach speech to college students.

Finley grew up in Bledsoe, Texas on a cotton farm. She had to commute to school every day.

“I went to school in Whiteface, 23 miles from my hometown,” she recalled. “We didn’t have a middle school or high school, so we had to commute.”

According to Finley, she chose to attend SPC because it was so close to home.

“I had no career aspirations,” she said. “I just didn’t know what else to do after high school. SPC was affordable, and my parents had both attended SPC. So it was an easy choice.”

As a Texan, Finley was very involved on campus. She lived on campus in Smallwood Apartments. She was a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the honor society for two-year colleges, and served as a Campus Ambassador and as president of the Baptist Student Ministry during her time at SPC. She was also a member of the forensics team and participated in the Miss Caprock Scholarship Pageant.

“At SPC, I met Laura Dickinson, who taught Public Speaking and was the coach for the forensic team,” said Finley. “She encouraged me to continue my education and to think about getting a Communication degree.”

After attending SPC, Finley transferred to Wayland Baptist University. While at WBU, she pursued a Mass Communication minor. Finley was very involved at Wayland, just as she was at SPC. She participated in plays with the Theater Department and also helped with the TV department.

By her final year at Wayland, Finley found what she wanted to do.

“My senior year, I decided I wanted to teach speech to other college students,” she explained, “so I knew I had to get my master’s.”

After Wayland, she attended Texas Tech University to get her master’s degree. While attending Texas Tech, she served as a Teaching Assistant. Being a TA helped Finley know that she truly wanted to teach. While attending Texas Tech, she worked at a daycare, as a waitress, and at Cavender’s Boot City in Lubbock.

After Texas Tech, Finley taught English and speech to high school and middle school students in Whiteface for four years. At the end of those four years, there was an opening at SPC.

“I loved my time at SPC, and I knew it was where I wanted to end up,” she explained. “I applied as soon as there was an opening, and when I was offered a job, I jumped at it! It’s a great place with great people and great students.”

Finley currently teaches Public Speaking, Introduction to Communication, and Business and Professional Speech. She also has been serving as the president of the Faculty Senate.

Finley also recently wrote a textbook with fellow instructor Janine Fox. They wrote the textbook “Entry Level to Executive: All Communication Counts” because they believed students shouldn’t be paying upwards of $100 for a speech textbook. They also decided to write the book to fit the needs of their students.

“We like that it’s a consumable, that we have tear-out pages in the back,” explained Finley. “We like that our students have that option. We like the way it looks. We like that it’s marketed to South Plains College, and when you get that book you don’t say, ‘Wow, that was a huge waste of money.’ It’s got resumes and interviewing,  so even if you only use it for public speaking, it’s got stuff you can use well into your adult life. We’re proud of it, and it was a labor of love.”

When not teaching, Finley spends time with her family and is very involved in the community.

“In my spare time, I read and watch movies,” Finley said. “I have three kids,  so my spare time is usually spent with them.”

Finley is also on the King’s Kids PDO board and helps on Wednesday nights with the children’s program at First Baptist Church in Levelland. She also enjoys researching issues relating to health and essential oils.

For students who want to obtain a Communication degree, Finley says it is a very useful degree to pursue.

“You can do so many things with a Communication degree,” she explained.

Finley also encourages teaching at the collegiate level.

“If teaching is your thing, then I highly recommend you teach in college,” Finley said. “It is the best job ever!”