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Halfway Around the World… Just Down the Hill: Internships in the Department of Communication—COMM 489


Since 1984 and the launch of the Corporate and Organizational Communication major, the internship program has become a vital part of the Department’s academic and professional obligations to its majors. COMM 489, our internship class, is a requirement for Corporate and Organizational majors and an option for the Communication Studies major.

In the summer session of 2014, three interns are working internationally. One student is assigned to the U.S. Army in Seoul, South Korea. Another, Tingting Zhao interns at New Field International in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, coordinating college entrance initiatives for American universities with five are high schools’ Chinese students. Emma Collins interns with The Junction, a nonprofit, peacebuilding organization in Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland. Ms. Collins’ internship calls on her to help influence citizens of Derry/Londonderry toward safety and non-violence.  See news article  at http://www.bgdailynews.com/news/student-on-peace-mission-to-northern-ireland/.

Other worksites for summer internships include the American Cancer Society, the WKU Sisterhood, Congressman Brett Guthrie’s office, and others in Bowling Green; Dell Computers and McNeeley, Piggot and Fox (PR) in Nashville; and others in Louisville and Boston.

From 1984 down to now, the faculty of the Department of Communication and the Directors of the Internship program, have focused their classroom and advisory work with the majors in the Department to develop a job/career path for our majors that can be connected to an appropriate internship.  Over the years, the success of COMM 489 for our majors has been an alignment of a student’s dreams and goals with an “entrance” internship.

In the past ten years – 2004-2014, approximately 100 for-profit, non-profit, educational, and foreign business organizations have served as work sites for interns in the Department.  In nearly every case, student interns have had full access to their organizations corporate culture, their employee communication, and customer service and sales – a significant learning advantage for our majors and for the department.

The success or failure of COMM 489 depends on students’ goal-oriented movement toward a career that will maximize their Communication degrees.  When students know what path they want to take, when they have the encouragement and full support of their faculty, more times than not, students and the Director of Internships can find worksites that meet the needs.

To be sure, at the conclusion of their major, many students don’t know what they want to do in life.  For them, an internship is a “fishing expedition.”  However, in today’s business world, an internship is the way to learn to “swim with the sharks.” Many organizations won’t even interview someone who hasn’t completed an internship.

At the end of the day, the business community is increasingly demanding of an internship on a resume to set a person apart from others looking for the same job. The COMM 489 Internship program in the Department of Communication can be a ticket to an exciting career.


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Graduate Student Bids Farewell

    felixIn the Fall of 2008 I started my undergraduate career here at WKU in which I took Stacey Gish’s COMM 161 class as a frightened, nervous, and awkward freshman. On the first day of class, she handed us this pencil telling us, “This item is only known as a pencil because someone in the past has named it a ‘pencil’ and everyone else followed suit. For the purposes of this class though, we will now refer to it as a ‘cow’. Items can have similar functions but it is up to our [class] culture to give them a name.” Obviously, this isn’t verbatim, but it was something to that effect.

I reflected on myself that entire semester and decided how I wanted this new culture, WKU, that I was a part of, to define me. Did I want to stay the same as high-school-Felix: quiet, unconfident, and nervous? Or did I want to redefine myself, much like we redefined the pencil?

That class forced me to talk in front of people which I hated; that class forced me to work in groups which I hated. I did not want to be in that class, at all. But more than that, I did not want to be known as the same as I was in the past. I wanted to be more, I wanted people to notice me, I wanted to be heard. I made a deal with myself that once a week I had to strike up a conversation with some random passer-by to become that new person and escape from my shell. I didn’t want to be the “pencil” as everyone else saw me before, I wanted to be the “cow” as WKU would come to see me.

Twelve semesters later, I will be walking in the graduate commencement ceremony Friday with only my thesis standing in the way of finishing my Masters degree. As I was packing up my house this morning to make the move to Columbus, Ohio I came across this “cow” in the bottom of my pencil bag from undergrad and realized everything is coming full circle. It was because of this analogical “cow”, this department, and this university that I was able to be redefined. I was finally known as something different to those who now knew me. My thanks are endless, my heart is full, and my brain is fried (only kidding…maybe). I will miss WKU and everyone in the department, but I will also take with me all the lessons I learned, both academic and social, to help drive my future in the direction that allows me to be happiest.

Thanks everyone!

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Recognition Dinner Honors Students

Recognition dinner


Students, alumni, faculty members and staff gathered together on May 1, 2014 at Cason’s Cove for the first annual Student Recognition Dinner. Student members of Lambda Pi Eta, Communication Ambassadors, and the International Association of Business Communicators, graduate students, and department award winners enjoyed an evening of recognition and conversation.

Two new departmental awards for outstanding undergraduate research were given. Chelsea Martin won the first annual Undergraduate Research Award—Case Study for a paper developed in Helen Sterk’s

Gender and Communication class. Marshall Covert won the first annual Undergraduate Research Award—Data-Based Study for a paper written for Blair Thompson’s class.

Doris Moody, President of the Communication Advisory Board, accepted the department’s Alumna of the Year award with a gracious speech on the value of her Communication education.

Each student received a red or white key with an attached motto as a memento of the value of their service and contributions to the department.

Special thanks go to Jennifer Mize Smith for her organization of this event. The venue, the food, and the decorations all made the evening memorable.


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Communication Organization For Graduate Students (COGS)

The Communication Organization for Graduate Students (COGS) exists to serve graduate students in the Masters of Organizational Communication. Three graduate students serve as officers, Felix Perrone (President), Daniela Fuentes (Vice-President), and Katie Fane (Secretary). In addition, Dr. Holly Payne serves as the Faculty Advisor.

As the life of a Communication graduate student can prove to be very busy and challenging, COGS desires to provide meaningful opportunities for students to network and help one another in their different endeavors. We do so in a variety of ways. Primarily, we hold meetings the last Monday of every month. These meetings are designed to share information about what the Department of Communication is doing (e.g. visiting scholars, webinars, etc.), to create fellowship among students, and to exchange experiences that will help students as they work their way through the graduate program.  We also provide workshops and class reviews when graduate students express a need for them. Workshops may include topics such as thesis writing, how to study for COMPS, etc.

Recently, COGS initiated the planning of a webinar, “How to Write Literature Reviews” conducted by Dr. Sonja Foss (University of Colorado, Denver) and Dr. William Waters (University of Houston, Downtown) authors of the book, Destination Dissertation.  The webinar workshop provided an interesting technique for literature review writing that will help graduate students in writing final course papers as well as theses.

COGS also supports lectures sponsored by the Communication Department, and creates opportunities for students to continue discussing what they learned during those events through the department’s ReVerb series.  COGS hosted a ReVerb event based on the department’s guest lecturer, Dr. Paul Schrodt.  The event involved the creation of interactive posters which included quotes from Dr. Schodt’s lectures and questions for students to address in pen form on the poster itself.  It was a great success, and truly kept the conversation going.  We were very excited to read all the comments students left on the posters, and we look forward to doing a similar activity next semester.

In addition to attending the lectures given by Dr. Paul Schrodt on step-family communication, COGS members had the opportunity to meet with him privately to ask about his research and seek advice on thesis topics.  We truly enjoyed getting to meet Dr. Schrodt!

In December, the current officers of the COGS eagerly anticipated the end of the semester outing event, where students enjoyed dinner together and celebrated their accomplishments throughout the semester.

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Lambda Pi Eta (ΛПΗ)


The goals of Lambda Pi Eta, the Department of Communication’s honor society, are to create interest in the field of communication, foster relationships between faculty and students, and share ideas about communication. One way LPH accomplishes these goals is by creating opportunities that allow for conversation about the Communication discipline to occur. This semester Lambda Pi Eta has accomplished these goals by sponsoring several events for recruiting new members, interacting with visiting scholars as well as communicating with faculty members within the communication department, and, finally, by attending the National Communication Association conference in Washington D.C.

The semester started off with a recruitment luncheon for prospective members to inquire about the organization. In order to be invited to the organization, the student must complete 60 hours of college credit; 12 hours must be in the communication discipline. The student must also have 3.0 cumulative GPA and a 3.25 within the Communication discipline. Needless to say an invitation to Lambda Pi Eta is quite an honor.

In October, Lambda Pi Eta members had the opportunity to meet with visiting scholar Dr. Paul Schrodt of Texas Christian University who presented his research in family communication. He also took time out of his schedule to discuss graduate school with LPH members and graduate students in the communication department. In November, Lambda Pi Eta hosted a department-wide ReVerb with communication faculty. Students were invited to hear presentations about faculty research interests and methodologies. The faculty members who presented were Dr. Sterk, Dr. Payne, Dr. Carey, Dr. Thompson, and graduate student Heidi Sisler. The ReVerb is unique because it allows faculty members to express their passion about their research interests with students. It also allows students to develop a greater appreciation for the scholarly research conducted with in the communication department.

One highlight of the semester was the National Communication Association convention held in Washington, D.C. Several officers of Lambda Pi Eta were able to accompany the Communication faculty to the conference: Mattie Russell, President; Chelsea Martin, Vice President; Natalie Gilliam, Secretary/Treasurer; and Haley Henderson, Scholarship Chair. This opportunity allowed the officers to meet other members of Lambda Pi Eta across the nation. The officers also had the opportunity to listen to research presentations by leading scholars in the Communication discipline.

As the semester closes, it is evident that the scholarly conversations about Communication are lively. Looking to the spring semester, the officers of Lambda Pi Eta are excited for the conversation about Communication to continue and the events that will make that happen.

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COMM 200 Appdate


COMM 200 app debuted in the fall of 2013. WKU faculty designed the app for the Communication Foundations class, replacing the traditional college textbook. Several Communication professors wrote the content, led by Dr. Blair Thompson.  After interviewing a handful of students who are currently taking the class, I found the general consensus is that the app is liked. While some students expressed an interest in having the option of a hard copy text, most liked the fact of having one less book to lug up the hill! One student remarked, “I would love to only have to carry my iPad.”

The quality and the varying functions of the app seem to be well liked by the students. Although they admitted that the app sometimes would lock up or close unexpectedly, they were understanding of the fact that it’s new. New technology is always going to encounter some bugs and glitches. Nearly all of the students agreed that the app would be successful once a few minor problems were worked out. The students were also pleased with other features of the app, saying “it is more than a book.”

It wasn’t surprising to hear that no one felt like there would be a time that apps would replace all textbooks. However, there was a time when the general consensus was that the world was flat and putting a man on the moon was impossible. The students in the Department of Communication are very fortunate to have an incredible faculty that creates a brand new class, writes the textbook, and then turns it into an app! With that type of commitment, who knows what they’ll be able to accomplish next.

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Life After Graduation… What’s Next?

For many college students, surviving undergrad is enough of a challenge in itself, not to mention thoughts on attending graduate school. In the growing and fast moving society we live in today, a graduate degree continues to become more valuable. A master’s degree in combination with a bachelor’s degree is a powerful duo.

A common myth about obtaining a Master’s degree in Communication is that the only need for one is for an academic career path. According to the Director of the Communication Graduate Program, Dr. Holly Payne, only a small handful of current graduate students plan to continue their education after they receive their master’s degrees. The majority of students plan to enter the workforce and use their graduate training to begin or further their careers in a variety of organizational settings.

The current graduate program of study offered is a Masters of Arts in Organizational Communication. There are 34 hours required to complete the program.  The breakdown of the hours include: 10 hours of core courses, 12 hours of organizational communication electives, 6 hours of human communication electives, and 6 hours of capstone options. The non-thesis capstone requires six additional hours of electives, as well as completing a written comprehensive exam. The thesis capstone option requires thesis research and writing, as well as an oral defense of the project.

Admission to the program requires both an application and test scores. The application materials include an application, official transcripts, GRE scores, a writing sample from an undergraduate course, and a letter of intent. Students must have earned a minimum score of 139 on the Verbal and Quantitative sections of the GRE. Additionally, students must have a GAP score of at least 550 [GAP = (Overall GRE score) + (Undergraduate GPA X 100)] and a minimum score of 3.5 on the analytical writing section of the GRE.

Any further information concerning the program can be found on the department website, www.wku.edu/communication/graduate_program/index.php, and any questions can be directed to the Graduate Director, Dr. Holly Payne, at holly.payne@wku.edu


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