Imagewest Promotes Professional Success


WKU prides itself on the ability to provide students with real world experiences. These opportunities provide students with an outlet to apply knowledge they gain inside the classroom to the outside world. One program that takes this notion to the next level is Imagewest.

To gain insight on the opportunities Imagewest provides their staff on a day-to-day basis, I interviewed Dominique Warfield who currently works at Imagewest as the Lead Account Executive.

Imagewest is a full-scale advertising and public relations firm staffed by WKU students majoring in Advertising or Public Relations. They offer six core services (per their website) including, “Branding, Research & Strategy, Web Design, Public Relations, and Advertising.” Imagewest opened its doors back in 2004, and over the past thirteen years the agency has grown by leaps and bounds.

Visiting their on-campus office located in Jody Richards Hall, you will find a space dedicated to forward thinking and professionalism. In this space countless advertising and public relation plans have come together for their clients not only here at WKU, but across the globe as well.

Question one: What has been your favorite project to date?

     My favorite project would have to be one that I am currently working on now for a client. This account requires that I create and maintain a Google Ad for their company.

Question two: What is the most unique component of Imagewest?

     The most unique thing about Imagewest is even though we are on located on campus and we are all student interns, we are a real advertising agency. We operate just like a real agency.

Question three: How has this position prepared you for your future?

     Imagewest has prepared me to take on a career after college by showing me the importance of networking. I started at Imagewest in the Summer of 2017, and as an agency we took a business trip to St. Louis, and networked with a lot of industry professionals. When I returned, I joined PMA which is the Professional Marketing Association which further expanded my network. Over fall break, I set up a job shadow at an agency in Atlanta. I have also connected with several industry professionals from other agencies across the U.S. and sent my resumes to their HR departments. Without Imagewest I would have never done any of that or had any idea what other options were out there.

Question four: Explain one thing you feel everyone should know about Imagewest.

     Imagewest is where you are going to build ever-lasting friendships. Working here brings you closer to your peers, and sets you apart from other students, not just here in Kentucky, but anywhere! Not a lot of universities have something like Imagewest so when you graduate already having some real-world agency experience puts you in a league of your own.

As one of the few PR and Ad agencies in the nation fully staffed by students, the future for Imagewest is bright. In providing this opportunity, prepares students for professional success.

~McKenzie Wilson, Student



World Traveler, Ad Guru, Designer, and Teacher

world traveler

Described as “relatable, brilliantly creative, and just an all-around fun teacher to have,” Professional-in-Residence Kelley Coppinger is now in her sixteenth year of teaching at WKU, following a successful career in advertising.

Kelley, as she insists students call her, was born in Iran, and has lived in many different countries such as Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Scotland,  and Belgium throughout her life, due to her father’s work in the oil industry. She also traveled extensively to India, Japan, Egypt, Europe and beyond.

Kelley moved to the U.S. at 18, and attended the University of North Texas, where she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts and met the love of her life, Chuck Coppinger. While in Texas, Kelley worked with many companies such as Positive Images, Texas Monthly, Southwest Airlines and more.

She later moved to Bowling Green, to follow her husband when he accepted a job offer. Quickly, Kelley began to establish her career experiences in Bowling Green as well. Her professional involvements here included political advertising. She also worked with American Bank & Trust, Eagle Industries, Kentucky State Arson Task Force, Farmers National Bank, Houchens Industries and more.

Becoming a college professor, or entering the field of education, was nowhere in Kelley’s plan for her career path, but she was drawn to the curriculum, which she described as “brilliant,” and decided to apply for a job. She said the curriculum was very professional, and “a good combination of advertising theory and practical application.”

When Kelley was asked about her teaching technique she said… “We have a professional program, and the focus is all about getting the job, so I am going to stress critical thinking and the portfolio.”

She loves being in the classroom and believes “all students are creative, it has just been educated out of them. Students want to use a theory or a formula, instead of their own problem solving skills.”

For more information about Kelley Coppinger visit her website

  ~Sidney Riney, Student


Witek Transforms Internship into a Full-time Position


Amanda Witek, a senior from Chicago, Illinois, is interning with Mellow Mushroom as the human resource representative and catering coordinator. Internships give students the opportunity  to apply skills learned in the classroom to real organizational situations. Through her internship, Witek was offered a full-time position with Mellow Mushroom upon graduation as the catering coordinator. She accepted the position and her manager started incorporating training for the position into her internship.

Witek studies Corporate and Organizational Communication and is required to complete an internship to get experience in her chosen field. Witek was formerly a waitress at Mellow Mushroom. At work one day, she mentioned she was searching for an internship. Her manager overheard her and asked if she would like to do an internship in the downtown office. Witek accepted the opportunity.

In a typical day at her internship, Witek completes approximately two hours of human resource practices, which consists of completing and filing hiring and firing paperwork, updating payroll and sitting in on performance appraisal meetings. In addition, she completes two hours of catering work such as reaching out to clients and creating catering menus.

She said the Department of Communication prepared her very well for this internship, drawing information from every corporate communication class she took.


“The knowledge and skills I gained while taking Interpersonal Communication helped me build organizational relationships, see from different perspectives, and diffuse situations. I didn’t realize how useful these skills were until I had to put them into practice,” she said.

Witek put her skills to the test when she was catering for the Humane Society. She listened to the needs of her clients and developed a menu to meet them. Witek created a vegan menu for the event and it was a hit. The Humane Society expressed the desire to come back because of the great service.

“I’m proud of this project because it was my first time catering. I did it and it worked. I gained a lot of confidence,” she said.

Witek is looking forward to her future with Mellow Mushroom as the catering coordinator. She loves organizing and building relationships with others; she feels like this position is a good fit for her.

~ Holly Case, Student


Opinion Piece: Liberal arts education is more than a first semester elective


In recent years there has been a shift in higher education away from liberal arts education.

Most of this shift appears to be reactionary in nature. Public officials often say how the students of today have to become more specialized in the sciences and other industries if we wish to competitive in a global marketplace, and focusing on liberal arts won’t land us on that competitive field.

“Every month, it seems, we hear about our children’s bad test scores in math and science — and about new initiatives from companies, universities or foundations to expand STEM courses (science, technology, engineering and math) and deemphasize the humanities,” Fareed Zakaria, author of “In Defense of a Liberal Education,” writes in The Washington Post.

But gutting liberal arts education is detrimental in a number of ways.

First, the problem with having to make a case for the liberal arts is that no one should have to do so. Making a case places it in competition with STEM fields, which it doesn’t need to be. There can, is and should be the coexistence of liberal arts and the sciences.

Too often a dichotomy emerges in which it is assumed liberal arts education is not necessary or needed in a contemporary workplace, or liberal arts could never work in conjunction with its scientific counterpart.

The concept of liberal arts education is nothing new. First emerging in classical times, having Greek and Roman roots, liberal education was based on grammar, dialectic and rhetoric—known as the Trivium or “three-fold way,” according to Biola University.

Even historically speaking there was a connection between liberal education and the sciences. The Trivium is coupled with the Quadrivium or “four-fold way”—arithmetic, music, geometry and astronomy.

So if it worked for the Greeks and Romans what’s changed? Apart from an increasing push on a federal and state level to deemphasize and villainize liberal arts as the bane of a university’s economic struggles, nothing.

A liberal arts education continues to provide a wide variety of practical and intellectual skills which are beneficial to students of all disciplines.

Former president of Berea College, Larry Shinn, lays out some of those skills in a 2014 article in Trusteeship magazine:

¨ Analytical thinking and communicating well in written and oral modes.

¨ Working independently and in team settings.

¨ Applying knowledge and skills in complex problem-solving in an ever more complex and  rapidly changing world.

If you ignore the inherent benefits these skills give you from a humanities perspective then perhaps you can place it in the context of professional skills.

A 2013 survey conducted by the Association of American Colleges & Universities, found 93 percent of respondents sought a “a demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than [a candidate’s] undergraduate major.”

And more than 75 percent of respondents wanted potential employees to have emphasis on five key areas including: “critical thinking, complex problem-solving, written and oral communication, and applied knowledge in real-world settings.”

Examining the reasons for the shift away from liberal arts is multi-layered in nature, but I want to focus on a specific part. The shift, in part, has to do with how public sentiment has taken to the term “liberal arts,” not necessarily the content of the education, but the term itself. A recent op-ed in Gallup by Brandon Busteed, Executive Director of Education and Workforce Development at Gallup, claims putting “liberal and arts together is a branding disaster.”

“It’s time to disconnect the strong value undergirding the liberal arts from the weak words that define them,” he says.

Busteed goes on to argue that the words “liberal” and “arts” fail to resonate in the minds of many Americans and in order to defend the benefits offered by such education we either have to describe “their attributes and arguably essential — and practical — benefits,” give it a new name or no name at all.

So let’s brainstorm some new names: “you’ll need this if you’re not a robot” education, “skills taught are applicable to every job imaginable” education, “no, it’s not all fine arts and opera” education, “you can actually get a job with this easier than you would think” education and the possibilities are endless.

Having to place the benefits of a liberal arts education in the context of job potential and economic benefits is nauseating, no one should have to. Areas such as history, arts, communication, political science and gender studies deserve a place at the table without having to be thought of in terms of a salary.

Besides, even if people aren’t clamoring to hire the interpretive dance majors, employers are clearly hiring not based on a major but based on skills; skills overwhelmingly developed as part of a liberal arts education.

A liberal arts education is not only becoming the way for the future, but it has been the way and can continue to be so.

~ Andrew Henderson, Student


Executive-in-Residence Shares Wisdom with Students


On Tuesday, September 5, Craig Dezern, a WKU alumnus, spoke with Communication students about his career and offered advice for future communication professionals. After a career in journalism, Dezern worked his way up to Vice President of Public Relations and Marketing at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

Dezern shared two key messages with the students. He said that it’s okay to change your career path multiple times. Keep your doors open and be willing to explore new opportunities when they come your way. Dezern also expressed the importance of being a lifelong learner who is willing to adapt to various situations and learn from them. Students were very receptive to his advice.

Eli Hurt, a Corporate and Organizational Communication major conveyed, “It was an awesome opportunity being able to spend time with a professional who has spent time at the top of his field. His presentation touched on everything we were learning in our Advanced Organizational Communication class.”


Dezern also discussed some of the projects he completed for Disney. One of his most challenging and exciting assignments was the startup of the Shanghai Disney Park. He learned the centrality of culture, while translating an American theme park for Chinese customers.

Dezern recently accepted a new position with Hilton as the Vice President of Brand Communications in Washington, D.

The Communication Department’s Executive-in-Residence program takes place every fall. For more information and a schedule of events visit the department website at

~  Colleen Coomes, Student

Special Topics Course Focuses on the Future of Work in Kentucky


In the Spring of 2018, a new class, Futures of Communication (COMM 400), will be available to students within the Department of Communication. Students from the department are being recruited for the course based on their personal academic achievement, innovative orientation, and creativity.

According to Ken Payne, Public Relations professor, “Futures of Communication will be the first chance for students from our five different disciplines to come together to bring their expertise to the table.”

Payne and Sam Ford, alumnus of the department, will team teach the course where students will explore the history of work and economic development in Kentucky, the current state of the economy, and potential visions for the future. Students will work in interdisciplinary groups to create communication campaigns promoting a positive image of the future of work, such as coal miners who code, in Kentucky in 2040.

The course will address these key questions:

¨ How are we thinking about the future of the economy in our state?

¨ To what degree does communication play a role in helping shape what that future could be, and becomes?

¨ How do we think about what each of the areas of the Department of Communication has to offer in addressing that question?

Ford stated, “I’m excited to work with a few students from each of the majors of this department in a collaborative space, where we learn from each other, imagine the future of these fields, and think about what happens when the expertise of these various programs are combined. I think it will provide a unique learning opportunity for students and the sort of project that will be a great portfolio-builder for them as they pursue what comes next in their career after graduating.”

If you would like more information on the course please contact Ken Payne at or Sam Ford at

~ Eli Hurt, Student


Message to the Undeclared Student

Dear Undeclared Student,

At this point in your life, you might be thinking, “How did I make it to college unable to pick a major?” All your friends seem to know what they’re doing, so you should too, right? After spending the majority of your life in school, you might have thought that choosing what you want to do with the rest of your life would have been a little easier and less stressful. Allow me to let you in on a little secret: it’s ok to not know what to do.

When I began my journey at WKU, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I experienced many of the feelings you probably have – uncertainty, frustration, anxiety – all while my friends seemed to know exactly what they wanted. After talking with advisers and faculty however, my view began to change. They told me that, as a freshman, not knowing what major to pick was in some ways even better than being declared. I was able to choose any path I wanted and explore some of the colleges within the university.

Still not completely sure what I wanted, I came across the Department of Communication after taking COMM 145. I had an interest in the subject, and I knew I didn’t want a simple desk job. I also really enjoy interacting with people, so after looking into it further, I discovered it was something I might want to do.

key_ undeclared

One of the things that attracted me to this department was the wide variety of jobs offered for someone with a communication degree. Occupations such as management, public relations, sales and training are just a few that caught my attention. The range of opportunities seemed perfect for someone who was unsure of a specific career or industry path they wanted to follow in the future. In the end, with the help of teachers and advisers, I was able to narrow down the choice of a dual-degree in Corporate and Organizational Communication and Spanish.

With this degree I could go anywhere and obtain a job with a variety of different companies. Marketing, public relations and even healthcare are among the many fields that I could choose from. I could even try out politics, or work with non-profit organizations. Wherever I end up, I know I will be prepared to take on any new challenge.

If you are currently undeclared and looking to try on a new major, I would highly recommend looking into the Department of Communication. The teachers and staff here prepare you well for the work you will be doing in the future, whatever that may hold. And with an expanded program including Public Relations and Advertising, there are even more possibilities to choose from! Sometimes not knowing can be the best thing, and when you do finally figure it out, you realize you hold the key to success.

To learn more about the Department of Communication stop by the Fine Arts Center, room 130, or contact the department head, Dr. Sterk, at

~ Peter Vawryk, Student