A passionate professor with valuable experiences to share, Dr. Joe Dennis is leading an impressive career in the journalism field. Raised in Chicago, Dennis has spent the last 22 years in Georgia with his wife and three children. Recieving his PhD from the University of Georgia, Joe taught at that university for a couple of years. He currently teaches at Piedmont University where he can be found on campus wearing his iconic fedora.
Joe currently owns over 15 fedoras, and has been a collector since 2011. Aside from making a fashion statement, these hats have a unique connection to his culture.
Originally working as a disk jockey, Dennis proudly wore a hoop earring during his late-teens/early twenties. When he made a pivotal career switch by deciding to further his education, he wanted to change it up as he worked to receive his masters and doctorate degrees.
“The earring didn’t make much sense anymore. I thought, ‘I need something that defines me.’ Bruno Mars was popular around then, and he rocks the fedora. I came to learn that he’s Phillipino. I thought, ‘That’s it! I’m going to wear a fedora.'”
Joe’s heritage played a significant role in his upbringing. His mother and sister immigrated from the Philippines and did not leave their culture behind.
“The Phillipino side of my family dominated my family life growing up,” says Joe. He was raised to value family over everything and spent much of his time at family gatherings growing up.
“There are always these new family members you’re meeting,” he says, “I grew up around a lot of my Phillipino relatives.”
Dennis continues to stay in touch with his heritage by making traditional Phillipino dishes. He shares these dishes with his children and has introduced them to a series of meals. He truly values his culture and wants it to be a part of his children’s lives as well.
“We try to go to Chicago for certain holidays so that my kids can be around that extended Phillipino family,” he says.
Journalists spend much of their time working and talking with people, and can have a profound impact on someone’s life. Dennis believes that the morals instilled in him from a young age have helped him in this career. After writing about a man who was living in unbearable conditions due to his landlord, a whole series on slumlords was created. “Part of how I was raised was to always be thinking about how decisions impact people,” Dennis says, “I have always had a heart to look out for people that have been forgotten.”