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July 2013


Intern Spotlight: Grace Acuna
by Morgan Spruiell, photo by David Vaughn
Grace Acuna

Grace Acuna

Austin native Grace Acuna is a senior public relations major in the College of Media & Communication, and she has acquired the nickname "Internshipaholic" for her numerous internships she has held since her freshman year at Texas Tech University.

During her four years in college, Acuna dove into working as an intern around the state in different fields and positions. Starting with her freshman year, Acuna said she worked at Student Media and wrote stories for the yearbook, La Ventana.

"I really like internships," Acuna said, "I think that they all bring different aspects out that I would never think of, and they have all shaped me into the person I am professionally today, a writer."

Next, she headed to her hometown to work for the public relations firm Hahn, Texas. "I worked with the Austin Marathon, the Metro, Whataburger, just a lot of cool clients, and I assisted public relations professionals there."

Acuna came back to Lubbock and decided to give the local television station Fox 34 a try. This internship she said was the "most surprising." As a public relations major, Acuna said she was working on reporting assignments and did not know immediately how the experience would correlate with her career choice. She later found that this experience to be a tremendous help in her later internships, and ultimately, her writing.

"I was able to observe the producer and some reporters, and by the end, I was able to write scripts and update the website."

The internship that helped guide Acuna into her prospective field was with the Lubbock Independent School District. "I got to write news releases, assist with planning and overseeing events, and mostly did weekly updates on their TV station."

For example, if teachers were doing an interesting project, she would go to the classroom and cover it, get video, write a script, and record it. For this experience, Acuna received a one-hour course credit that went toward her degree.

"It's exciting, they actually asked me to work for them while I was in school, but I just don't think I could do it; it would just be too much pressure," Acuna said.

Acuna will graduate in May and is excited to see what her future holds. "I'm not sure where I plan on going, but I'd love to conquer a new city, maybe Dallas or Chicago or even New York," she said.

Acuna currently is working back on campus in the Office of Communications and Marketing for Texas Tech where she focuses on media relations and athletic marketing and communications.

She gave this advice to fellow Red Raiders: "Start internships early. My first one was freshman year, and it got me hooked and helped me realize the field I'm going into is the right one for me and that I could really excel in it," she said. "I learned so much and then was able to go to classes and absorb so much more because I was ahead of the game. I knew what they were talking about and what was coming next."

The Career Center is dedicated to helping College of Media & Communication students of all majors with a number of different services including resume critiques, internships and job possibilities. Career Center Director Aleesa Ross sends out daily emails with up-to-date information and encourages students to sign up to receive those e-mails.

"Aleesa's been a huge help to me. She suggested the LISD internship to me, and I've also had a bunch of professors that have been really inspiring to me, and it's nice to have that encouragement and know you're on the right path," Acuna said.

"I picked up little things from each internship and have loved them all."

Like Acuna, students can get ahead of the game and look into all their internship options. The more experiences they encounter make them more marketable to future employers and enables them to decide their future career paths. For more information email Career Center Director Aleesa Ross at aleesa.ross@ttu.edu.

Morgan Spruiell is a senior electronic media and communications major from Dickinson, Texas.

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Major Spotlight: Journalism
by Stephanie Derkowski, photo by David Vaughn

Journalism is the legacy major of the College of Media & Communication. Todd Chambers, Ph.D., chairperson for the Journalism and Electronic Media Department, said that for decades the journalism program has helped establish what the college is today.

The journalism program has produced many outstanding alumni, including: Scott Pelley, CBS Nightly News anchor and 60 Minutes correspondent; Tod Robberson, Dallas Morning News editorial writer and Pulitzer Prize winner; Linda Rutherford, vice president of communication and strategic outreach at Southwest Airlines are among many others.

Chambers said the journalism program curriculum focuses on training responsible, innovative storytellers. He said a big part of the responsibility comes from being objective and ethical, which are ideals the program faculty teaches their students.

"The reality is, journalism is not dying," Chambers said. "Newspapers are changing, television news is changing, but that doesn't make journalism less important."

Broadcast Studio

Broadcast Studio

Something that makes the journalism program unique, Chambers said, is that there is a spirit of entrepreneurship that really emphasizes students creating their own media brand.

"What media brand means is we want students to feel like they can use our coursework, but they can also use our facilities to create new, innovative news products like the Double T Insider."

The Double T Insider is one example in which a group of students began a weekly program that has been picked up by a Midland, Texas, television station. The sports broadcast is completely produced by students who find stories, interview people, and develop the video and audio work, and anchor the on-air show.

"Another thing we do really well here is train our students from a multiplatform perspective," Chambers said. "We want our students to be able to tell a story with audio, video, photography, it's really a true multimedia experience."

Many job opportunities require, and employers are often looking for, students who can do traditional journalism positions, such as reporting, production and editing, as well as new media positions that involve social media, web design and blogging, Chambers said. One of the key skills employers are looking for is a student who can write and know how to use appropriate grammar, spelling and punctuation, he emphasized.

"One of the big things right now is a lot of people are looking for journalists who can take stories out of data and make them visually attractive," Chambers said, "So you have some data visualization type of jobs that are opening up for our majors."

Some key characteristics that make a good journalism major are to be a good writer, be creative, be ethical, have an entrepreneurial spirit, be responsible and innovative, and ultimately to be a storyteller, he said.

Appreciating the role journalism has played in the world and will play in the future is very important, Chambers said.

"Journalism is a legacy major, and because of that legacy, the importance of knowing how to write and knowing how to tell the story to the right audience in the most effective format for that audience is what journalism is all about."

Stephanie Derkowski is a senior public relations major from Longview, Texas.

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Study Abroad Experience: Melissa Brisco
by Stephanie Derkowski, photos by David Vaughn and courtesy Melissa Brisco
Melissa Brisco

Melissa Brisco

According to the website of the National Association of Foreign Student Advisors (NAFSA), 1.09 percent of undergraduates participate in a study abroad program at their universities.

Melissa Brisco, senior public relations major from Coppell, Texas, is part of that small percentage. She participated in the College of Media & Communication's study abroad program in London.

The program takes place during a "May-mester" semester, the two weeks at the conclusion of the spring semester.

The two-week trip counted for two courses: History of British Journalism and International Advertising. Brisco said the class of 24 students met during the Spring semester before the trip to begin coursework on the two subjects.

"We went over things about how to get prepared for going abroad and went over the coursework," Brisco said.

The class members stayed in London for the majority of the trip, Brisco said, and they took day trips to the countryside of Britain, such as Oxford and Stratford-upon-Avon.

The class was given an optional overnight trip to Paris, France, for an additional two-night stay to experience more of Europe.

Brisco said she hopes to work in corporate public relations, and she said a great experience for her on the trip was visiting Edelman, a global public relations firm in London.

Click to expand
Study abroad group before leaving on trip Students at Edelman PR Touring Mindshare Advertising Agency Students at the Tower of London

"It was cool because they market to the same global brands that the Edelman offices in America do," Brisco said. "It was really interesting to see how they alter their marketing for specific areas, and also to see how they are the same in both countries."

One of her favorite class activities was a tour of Fleet Street, where journalism was founded in London. She said the class witnessed historical places related to the foundation of journalism.

Another one of her favorite activities was visiting the city of Oxford for one day. She said the area was very beautiful, and the class members were able to learn the history of the city.

Brisco said she strongly recommends studying abroad for college students. She said the scheduling of the trip is convenient by taking place during the May-mester and the experiences are ones students will remember for their lifetimes.

"This trip was at the perfect time because I was able to go on the trip and also have an internship during the summer," Brisco said. "I highly encourage studying abroad because it's something you can't fully explain until you've experienced it, and I would have loved to have been able to stay longer."

Stephanie Derkowski is a senior public relations major from Longview, Texas.

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Professor Spotlight: Robert Peaslee, Ph.D.
by Stephanie Derkowski, photo by David Vaughn

A professor is more than a person who stands in front of a class and lectures about a topic. Professors are people who have relevant experiences that can help students on the track to their professional careers.

Robert Peaslee, Ph.D., is an example of a professor in the College of Media & Communication who has many experiences in the communications field and enjoys guiding students along the way to their learning experiences and future jobs.

An assistant professor in the Department of Journalism and Electronic Media, he said what makes him passionate about this field is that it is always changing.

"I am most interested in thinking about things that are emergent," Peaslee said, "and media certainly has that characteristic."

Peaslee received his doctorate in mass communications at the University of Colorado Boulder, his master's degree in English literature at Citadel in South Carolina, and his bachelor's degree in communication studies at Colby-Sawyer College in New Hampshire.

He teaches courses such as Visual Communications, Writing for Feature Film, and special topics courses related to film and visual culture. He said one example of a special topics course is a class called The Blockbuster in which the class looks at the film industry and film marketing topics.

Robert Peaslee, Ph.D.

Robert Peaslee, Ph.D.

Peaslee said he enjoys teaching undergraduate students and hearing their feedback on his class. He said he loves hearing how they have a better appreciation of their environment and have attained new skills after taking his course.

"It's a great treat to get that kind of feedback," Peaslee said, "knowing they feel more prepared, both as professionals but also as citizens."

He also enjoys the challenge of presenting material in the classroom in more understandable and approachable ways each semester.

Being a professor in a classroom is only half of Peaslee's job, the other half is conducting his own research on broadly different topics.

He studies the relationship between the media place and audience practices. He said an example of this is tourism to film and television production.

"I'm interested in festivals, for example film festivals, conventions, music festivals, things of that nature," Peaslee said, "just about how they operate, their respective industries, and fandom."

Peaslee said other research concerns documentary film and international mass communications, particularly with reference to China. He said he and a colleague look at different examples of Chinese-produced media and how they work with ideas about globalization and hybridity.

For new students in the college, Peaslee said every student can do something to broaden their learning experiences.

"Go to your professor's office hours. Regardless of the class, regardless of the professor, it's a great way to put you on their radar, and that's particularly important in a large university setting. But also, you learn more," Peaslee said. "There's only so much a professor can say about a fairly complex topic in a 50- or 80- minute period. I think you get a little deeper if you spend 15 to 20 minutes with your professor, ask a couple of questions, and you get a fuller experience."

Stephanie Derkowski is a senior public relations major from Longview, Texas.

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Get to Know Your Adviser Q & A: Rose Cruz, Media Strategies
photo by David Vaughn
Rose Cruz

Rose Cruz

Where are you from?

Ropesville, Texas.

Where did you go to college?

Texas Tech, I majored in business. Being in the Advising Department of the college, I really would like to pursue a master's degree. It's very important to continue education when you're a part of a university setting.

What are your hobbies?

I like to go to the movies, and I love walking in the evenings when it's nice and cool. I like gardening, flowers, and so forth. You know when they put them out at the nurseries and they look so beautiful and I can't resist buying a six-pack of daisies or something.

What is your favorite music?

My co-worker Miranda plays a lot of country music, and I like listening to some of those artists. Carrie Underwood has some great songs, Faith Hill, Reba McEntire, kicking it back old school, but those are a few of my favorite artists to listen to.

What is your favorite part about advising?

Interacting with the students because every student is different. They all have a unique set of circumstances. It's very interesting getting to know them one-on-one and figuring out what are their likes, dislikes, and everything that just makes them who they are.

What advice do you have for incoming students?

I always tell my students to never give up on furthering their education, whether it is with another post-graduate degree, or doing an experience at their job, or maybe keeping their interests open to another job market. They always have to keep evolving and growing because nothing can stay stagnate. If they stay stagnate they will fall behind on everything that's going on around them, so as long as they continue to grow and evolve as people and their interest and their education, then they should be fine to continue to find their path in life.

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