In this issue of Converging News:
College of Media & Communication Welcomes Two New Faculty Members
By Hannah Cruz
Texas Tech’s College of Media & Communication recently hired two new assistant professors in the public relations department who will integrate with current faculty and contribute to research and undergraduate education.
Jerry Hudson, Ph.D., dean of the College of Media & Communication, said he feels both new faculty members, Elizabeth Gardner, Ph.D., and Myiah Hutchens, Ph.D., will fit nicely into the college and provide solid teaching for students while also conducting research.
“The last two or three years we’ve really attracted some outstanding faculty members, and they have mixed in and integrated quite well with our existing faculty,” he said. “Right now, [we have] the most collegial faculty we’ve had since I’ve been here since 1978.”
Hudson said he hopes Gardner and Hutchens will follow in this pattern to aid in the development of the college’s reputation for producing outstanding mass communications professionals. As the College continues to hire quality faculty, quality students will follow, and the College will be able to accomplish its main goal – educated, well-rounded graduates, Hudson said.
“Our bread and butter, our major emphasis, is to educate our 1,500 undergraduate students who have chosen this as a career,” Hudson said, “and hopefully [the college will] be a source of income for their livelihood and quality of life they’d like to pursue.”
With her bachelor’s in public relations at University of North Carolina, a master’s from University of Texas, and a doctorate from the University of Missouri, Gardner is no stranger to education. Gardner said she is excited to join the Tech faculty, continue her personal education through research, and especially continue teaching.
“I’m a big fan of knowledge,” Gardner said. “I just see how learning things and being active and doing things makes things so much better. It’s odd how simple that is, and we have a responsibility to encourage that. Teachers are supposed to be the cheerleader of knowledge. Part of my job is to cheerlead the cause and make [students] excited.”
Hutchens said she too has a passion for knowledge. Intending to enter the mass communications field for media relations, Hutchens quickly learned she enjoyed the discovering and learning process of research and academia. After completing her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Washington State University, she went on to Ohio State University to complete her Ph.D. Hutchens said her role as an assistant professor suits her perfectly.
“I've always been a curious person,” Hutchens said, “and what initially attracted me to working in mass communications was the idea of knowing things first and being part of the information cycle. The research process really feeds into my desire to know things first and my general love of learning, but also provides more flexibility and variety than I had been exposed to in the past. The combination of teaching students and being able to pursue my own interests through research is the ideal fit for me.”
Gardner and Hutchens said they expect to become fully integrated with the college and faculty within five years, and hope to establish tenure. Both said they look forward to research opportunities at Texas Tech and anticipate the opportunity to learn along with the undergraduate students they will teach.
Marina from Spain
By Hannah Cruz
Coming from the Facultad de Comunicación de Universidad de Sevilla in Spain, Visiting Professor Marina Ramos was surprised by some of the things she learned during her stay at the Texas Tech College of Media & Communication this summer.
Invited by Jerry Hudson, the dean of the college, and Kent Wilkinson, Regents Professor in Hispanic and International Communications, Ramos came to Texas Tech to attend a few classes, give presentations to mass communications students, and most importantly, she said, improve her English.
Ramos said her college, Facultad de Comunicación, and the College of Media & Communication could benefit by learning from each other because the subjects studied in each college are very similar. However, the way the colleges are organized, students are taught, and of course, the realities of each culture’s media, is much different, she said.
“I think here in the states the mass media are focused more on [national news],” she said. “In Spain it is more focused on international news – there’s a lot of news about other countries. Here, all of the news focuses [on national, state and local news]. In Spain, local news is not very common – there is some, but it’s not very common – only if there is something very special like a fair or something strange. Mass media here is focused on the states and not international news.”
Ramos said though there are differences, the media in Spain, just like in the United States, focuses on television broadcasts and the Internet. Spain even has its own version of social media called Tuenti , a similar format to Facebook, Ramos said.
Sitting in on summer classes at Texas Tech, Ramos said she enjoyed the smaller-sized classes, and how interactive the classes were taught. Ramos said she looks forward to returning to Spain and integrating both the information she learned about American media as well as different teaching techniques.
Alumni Search for Success
By Hannah Cruz
After homework and assignments are completed and cap and gown are thrown off, Texas Tech College of Media & Communication alumni still have the daunting task of a job search.
Debra Sanderson, a 2008 public relations graduate with a minor in general business, said she has been trying to land a job in entertainment public relations since graduation. Though she has not landed a job yet, Sanderson said she has made significant progress since she started searching in Los Angeles, and believes there are multiple factors contributing to her specific situation.
“I certainly think the market and economy have played roles, but I don't want it to sound as though I'm blaming everything on that,” she said. “The competition is intense in California. At any given time I could be submitting my resume for a job along with hundreds of other applicants. I am lucky if my resume is seen. It's just a fact of life that in the entertainment business it matters who you know. Connections are everything.”
With two internships during her college experience, Sanderson said she feels her strong resume has helped her enter interviews and network with people she may not have had the opportunity to meet otherwise. Sanderson said her internships with organizations such as CBS, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, and theHollywood Bowl in Los Angeles distinguish her among the vast applicant pool.
Natalie Wilson, a May 2010 public relations major and Spanish minor, said she spent months searching for a job, and though she wasn’t able to attain a full-time job, she was thrilled to accept a full-time paid internship with Levenson and Brinker, a public relations agency in Dallas.
Wilson encouraged “soon-to-be graduates” to be persistent, research the company to be interviewed with, and to set themselves apart from other applicants by highlighting their strengths. Wilson also told students to “read all of Aleesa Ross’ e-mails with career opportunities” because that is where she found her current job.
Kimberly Cook, a May 2010 public relations graduate with an English minor, interned with the Texas Tech Athletic Media Relations department and with Covenant Health System, as well as filling the role of editor-in-chief for the college’s student-written alumni magazine, The Mass Communicator, Cook said her experience before graduation was critical in landing her job as an assistant account executive with Culloton Strategies, a public relations firm in Chicago.
Cook was first hired as an intern in June, but was quickly able to work her way up. Setting herself apart from other graduate students, Cook attributed her ability to plan for part of the reason she was hired on full time. Making time for both a career and further education, Cook will not only work full time but will attend DePaul University as a full-time graduate student in a joint master’s public relations and advertising program.
“I chose DePaul's public relations and advertising graduate program specifically because it allowed me to work full time and take classes full time, still finishing my master's in two years,” she said. “There was no guarantee that my internship at Culloton Strategies would turn into a job, but I knew that by choosing a school that would allow me to have a full-time work schedule I'd be more employable than other graduate students. Luckily, Culloton Strategies wanted me to stick around.”
Cook said she was apprehensive entering the work force, but after meeting graduates from other schools she felt confident in her education as an undergrad at Tech.
“I always did well at Tech, but for all I knew, doing well at Tech would be like doing just average at another school,” Cook said. “However, now that I've been working for a few months I've found that not only did Tech Mass Communications prepare me for working, I'm head and shoulders above my co-workers and peers — especially when it comes to writing. From what I can tell, [Robert] Wernsman is the best AP-style teacher there is. I know that class [is stressful], but what I learned in his class got me a job.”
Though the job market is hit or miss, according to circumstances for each alumnus, the College of Media & Communication alumni agree their experiences at Texas Tech has sufficiently prepared them to be competent mass communications professionals.
Double Duty in Boise
By Hannah Cruz
With a lifelong goal of working in the sports world, David Hooks Waller chased down his dream.
Waller, a senior electronic media and communications and general business double major from Albany, Texas, searched for internship opportunities for minor league baseball teams before landing his chance with the Boise Hawks.
As part of the front office staff of a small, single-A affiliate team of the Chicago Cubs, Waller said he has the opportunity to work “double duty” for the Boise Hawks, working in ticket sales and video production.
“Being in a single-A system it’s a real small team so we’re taught we have to do many different things for the club,” said Waller, referring to his opportunity to work in sales as well as develop video content for the media. “We help them with all sorts of different aspects. I’ve also been helping with the website design.”
Waller said his education at Texas Tech University prepared him to be a multi-dimensional employee in the professional world. Classes like digital media production, Waller said, helped set him apart.
“That class alone helped me tremendously for this internship,” Waller said. “First of all, that class taught us sound-editing, Photoshop, video editing and website design. What I’ve been doing here is video editing and a little Web design. Just learning about those at Tech put me a step ahead of everyone else. That’s one of the reasons I got the job — just knowing how to do that puts me one step ahead of the rest and a leg up to get the internship.”
Waller said the internship with the Boise Hawks has taught him to be more outgoing, and said he encourages other students to test their limits and improve themselves through an internship. Inspired from his experience with the Boise Hawks, Waller said he plans on returning to school after graduation to earn a master’s degree in sports marketing and management. He then hopes to continue to work in the sports media field.