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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)


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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

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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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2nd Annual Department of Communication Bonfire

For the second year in a row, Ms. Charlotte Elder hosted the Department of Communication Bonfire. This event is the perfect opportunity for students, alumni, and professors to join together for a night of great fun. Approximately 40 people gathered on Wednesday, November 13th for marshmallow roasting, hot chocolate and great conversation. Everyone grabbed their chairs and blankets for a cold night by the warm fire. This year the bonfire had a new act to add to the festivities, Happy Gas! According to Happy Gas member, Angelia Whitlock, “Happy Gas Improv Troupe is Kentucky’s longest running improvisational comedy troupe. With audience suggestions, we create and build scenes and entire stories without script or prior rehearsal.” This interactive group brought an exciting new twist to the bonfire and left everyone laughing. Members of Happy Gas present at the bonfire were President Nick Benson, Stephen Korfhage, Chris Embry, and Angelia Whitlock. From Happy Gas to the roasting pig, the bonfire is anything but boring. Communication student Ryan DeMuth said when asked what his favorite part of the annual bonfire is stated, “I would have to say just being able to see a great group of faculty and students be able to kill some stress and hang out together.” The annual bonfire is a new tradition for the Department of Communication that both students and professors hope will continue and grow in the years to come.

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Internships Catapulting Careers Forward

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This fall, the Department of Communication hosted an “Interns on Interning” panel. Students gathered in the Faculty house, where they were given the opportunity to gain insight from internship veterans. A panel of six students shared their experiences with the group, and it was exciting to hear the variety of internships that students from WKU have filled. From internships with Landshark Shredding to WKU Athletic Department, students are out in our community applying skills learned here on The Hill.

The students shared how their Communication degrees have catapulted their careers forward and their participation in their internships has helped to narrow down what careers they hope to pursue. WKU Communication Studies senior, Eric Sapp, said he hopes to make strong networking connections and gain valuable job experience during his summer 2014 internship. Eric is looking forward to working for an insurance company and hopes to learn more about this field to better decide if it will be the right fit for him. He also mentioned how he hopes his internship will lead to a full-time job after college.

Dr. Carl Kell, Director of Internships, strongly believes that an internship can help students achieve their professional goals and has the potential to launch their careers. The key to all this is finding the right internship. Many Communication students walk into his office unsure of what opportunities are out there for their major, but the possibilities are endless. Dr. Kell spoke of how the Department of Communication equips students to enter almost any organization with a toolbox full of strategies to improve the communication climate and to promote more effective communication, making Communication majors essential at the most basic level of an organization and up. Students who are undecided if an internship would be a beneficial endeavor should consider how an internship provides a link between academic learning and professional employment.

Most students are unaware of the processes involved in obtaining an internship. Those students interested in registering for the Spring 2014 internship course should schedule an appointment with Dr. Carl Kell to discuss potential internship placements. If your organization is interested in hosting a communication intern, contact Dr. Carl Kell at (270) 745-5883.

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Tackling the “R” Word

 

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A new course was added to the communication department this semester that some may consider out of bounds.COMM 450 – Special Topics: Interracial Communication tackles issues many people are still uncomfortable facing head on. “The ‘R’ word (meaning race) is almost considered a taboo topic” Dr. Mittie Carey explained.

Because talking about race often makes people uncomfortable, it was important to Dr. Carey to set up an atmosphere of trust for her students. At the start of the semester, she conducted many ice breakers and interactive activities to make students feel free to express beliefs as equals and without fear of judgment. Most class periods are spent in circles allowing for open discussion to take place. The class often participates in fish bowl discussions, where two people begin a conversation in the middle of a circle so that everyone is observing, just like fish in a bowl. Eventually other students also move into the “bowl” to contribute to the discussion.

Dr. Carey felt it was important to construct COMM 400 in a way that prepared students to work and thrive in an interracial society and to communicate across all racial lines.This new course begins with the history of race and moves onto cover interracial relationships  in corporations, romantic relationships, and friendships. Students are encouraged to form their own opinions without worrying if their grades will be affected negatively.

Traditionally, race is not something that is openly talked about, but this course shows that it should be. As Dr. Carey pointed out, “We are all different and there is nothing wrong with those differences. I’m black, you are white.My hair is curly, yours is straight. Since there is nothing wrong with these differences, we should feel comfortable talking about them.”

So far, the feedback for Interracial Communication has been very positive. Dr. Carey wishes that more students of all races would take the course. It provides exposure and opportunity to hear the words of others with different experiences. Students are given the chance to voice their opinions and examine themselves and what they believe. As a class, they discuss why cultural and racial groups view things differently, and how perception isn’t always reality. This course allows for an open opportunity for transformative discussion that will hopefully be followed by transformational perspectives and ideas.

~Brittany Bray, Student

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