NCA: Making Connections in Washington, DC

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The National Communication Association’s (NCA) 99th annual convention was held in Washington, DC this past -November. The convention’s theme, “DC Connections,” centered around the issues and sites of our nation’s capital.
Department Head, Dr. Helen Sterk, said that “every convention takes on its own flavor of the city. Starting the opening night with a political satire group, The Capitol Steps, made the convention feel very true to the city. The theme of Connections helped highlight communication from the personal up to the political.”

Politics were a common theme of this convention. One panel highlighted the media’s portrayal of the  assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the communication breakdowns that occurred. Many research panels centered around JFK as the convention took place on the weekend of the 50th anniversary of his assassination. Attending WKU student, Haley Henderson, a senior from Lexington, Kentucky said, “It was truly incredible to be a part of that historical anniversary.”

NCA provides a way for both students and faculty to become more immersed in the discipline and to gain knowledge and perspective from some of the top scholars. Dr.  Angie Jerome said, “The thing I enjoy the most about academic conferences is the social interaction I get to engage in with other scholars in the discipline. It is always cool to interact with people who write the articles my students read for class assignments.”

Dr. Jerome has presented at NCA numerous times. This past convention, she presented on a panel with Dr. Blair Thompson, Dr. Holly Payne, and graduate student, Daniella Fuentes about school crisis communication. Dr. Jerome says each time she presents “provides a new learning experience and opportunity to share my work with my peers and mentors across the discipline, discuss scholarly trends in my field, and receive valuable feedback from other scholars on my research.” Dr. Sterk recognized faculty for their participation in NCA, saying, “I am very pleased with our department’s level of involvement. Not only do faculty members present papers, they also chair, plan programs, and help run their sub-areas. Because of that, they are making a difference in the organization, helping it to serve scholars in years to come. Our students, from Lambda Pi Eta to graduate students, attend and present papers, learning firsthand from the authors they read.”

There are major benefits for students to attend the NCA convention. Dr. Jerome mentioned, “It is also extremely intriguing to watch my students experience their first conference. I am so proud watching them present their work, receiving awards, and having them realize that they are among the top scholars in the discipline.” Ivan Gan, a second-year graduate student from Singapore, presented his paper and received a top student paper honor.

Everyone in attendance at this year’s convention was able to create meaningful connections to their discipline and come home energized. Next year, the NCA convention will be held in Chicago at the Palmer House Hilton hotel

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