Jennifer Gennaco, The Woman Who Achieved Her Professional Trifecta

A look into the life of UNE’s DigiSpace Coordinator and Multimodal Writing Specialist.


“I didn’t see it at first; the way technology could be such a powerful tool,” Gennaco smiles. “ I couldn’t see all of the potential paths where it would later lead me.”

Jennifer Gennaco is UNE’s DigiSpace Coordinator and Multimodal Writing Specialist. While working with students to improve their digital literacy, she has finally found a position that encompasses English, digital media, and teaching. However, Gennaco’s professional life hasn’t always been so attuned to her passions.

“I started college as a Biology major, so it’s not always a straight path. Eventually, I decided that wasn’t really for me. If you keep an open mind about what makes you happy and what you feel fulfilled doing, then you’re on the right track.”

Unhappy with Biology, Gennaco decided to switch her major; she always had a passion for English. “This is going to sound funny, but I think I was just born with it; it certainly was encouraged in a lot of ways,” she laughs. “When I look back, the first thing I really actively remember writing was a journal that I kept in first grade.”

Gennaco knew she wanted her education to include her passion for English, but she also knew she wanted more. It wasn’t until Gennaco was reminded of a high school dream that she finally realized what to do.

“There was a high school theme day where we were given the option to teach a class. It was like a job shadowing experience, but it was just for one day. I remember teaching that short 20-minute lesson and just having this feeling of being able to help other people. It’s really about understanding how other people think too, which I have always found fascinating.”

In 1995 Gennaco graduated from Colby College with her bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature. Yet even after completing a degree in her passion, she found herself at a loss for what to do next.

“I was an English major, creative writing minor, and education minor. By the time I finished my student teaching, I had thought, ‘I’ll never be a teacher, it’s way too much work, and I’m not good at it.’ So, I left college without a job, and I didn’t know what I wanted to do.”

Through the help of a temporary employment agency, Gennaco was matched into a copy editing job for a medical publisher, where she stayed for the next year and a half.

“I realized that the job of a copy editor is to be very attentive to detail and make sure that everything is just right. A lot of the stuff that I did, most people would not even notice. Once I realized I was spending a lot of time focusing on details, they just started to feel really insignificant. ”

This realization guided Gennaco to re-embrace the subjects that genuinely felt significant to her. She quit her job as a copy editor and began working at Beachmont School in her hometown of Revere, Massachusetts. Gennaco taught English Language Arts for six years in the seventh and eighth grades. During this time, she returned to college at the University of Massachusetts Boston and graduated a second time with a master’s degree in Secondary Education and Teaching.

With that experience to build on, Gennaco decided it was time for her to expand her professional life. She left Beachmont and began pursuing higher education.

Through the years, Gennaco worked at Andover College and Kaplan University. Then in 2010, she began her career at UNE as an adjunct faculty member, teaching English Composition.

“When I started to teach at UNE, I realized that there are a lot of free digital tools. From Kaplan, I had some basics about learning management systems, but I wasn’t seeing it as a tool for teaching so much as a tool for organizing a class. It was the game-changer for me to look back and say, ‘ok, this is how we’ve used technology to this point, but now we have all of these new open-source tools, we have all of this possibility.”

In 2017 she accepted the school’s Digispace Coordinator position, which, coupled with her involvement in UNE’s Student Academic Success Center, finally allowed her to braid together her trifecta: teaching, English, and digital media.

SASC “provides a comprehensive array of academic support services including placement testing, courses, workshops, tutoring, and individual consultations.” Similarly, DigiSpace is a program where UNE’s students and faculty can go for help with digital projects.

“We’re working on making DigiSpace a better experience for students and making sure people are comfortable coming in,” explains Jordyn Ransom, a tutor for DigiSpace.

Similarly, Gennaco’s goal is to help students feel confident accepting tutoring.

“The group I work in at the SASC is focused on giving back to the community, helping students get what they need, and helping them be successful. Sometimes students feel worried about coming into SASC as if it’s some kind of failure on their part, which is just not the case. Our services are there to help, so it is always an open door.”

Gennaco takes pride in all of her work. Through every step, even those that didn’t align with her plan, Gennaco acted thoughtfully. She has made an effort to learn from every change and challenge.

“I have embraced the idea that if I’m going to be present in something, I really want to be present. I don’t want to just show up. That’s how I try to interact everywhere I am; I do the best I can do.”