In this issue of Converging News:
Understanding the Academic Value of Equity and Diversity
by Morgan Grubbs, photo by Hannah Cruz
Wiewu Zhang, Ph.D., assistant professor of public relations, was selected to attend the 2011 Institute for Inclusive Excellence. He attended the first module Jan. 26 at Texas Tech University’s Teaching, Learning and Technology Center and will attend two more modules in the future. The selection committee considered Zhang’s application an excellent example of how superior scholarship contributes to diversity at Texas Tech.
Zhang said the relationship among diversity, social capital, and media use is one of his research interests, and this contributed to his application being considered outstanding.
“My research focuses on the positive effects of neighborhood diversity and heterogeneity of individuals’ discussion networks and media use, such as cutting down on ethnocentrism, better education, efficient government, safer neighborhoods, a robust economy, and a more vibrant participatory democracy,” Zhang said.
The program, initiated during the 2009-2010 academic year for Texas Tech faculty, is an effort to promote greater understanding of the academic value of equity and diversity. The institute also strives to offer participants the insights and strategies for preparing Texas Tech graduates to be globally competitive and multi-culturally competent in the constantly changing demands of a global society.
“The topic of diversity is an integral part of my teaching practices,” Zhang said. “For instance, last fall semester in my Seminar in Mass Communications Theory class, I assigned the topic of media stereotyping of gender and minority groups. Graduate students engaged in heated debate on how media routinely portray gender and minority groups in stereotypical manners and on the psychological mechanisms underlying media stereotyping and how we can remedy the situation. I regularly include pop public affairs and world news quizzes to encourage students to pay attention to media and become well-informed democratic citizens.”
Faculty members were chosen based on college and department nominations, and each will receive a $1,000 stipend for travel, research, and instructional materials. In addition, the Institute will provide this group of faculty members with a more in-depth understanding of how inclusive excellence can achieve further academic success.
The program will provide participating faculty an array of annual trainings, which will assist the Division of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement in the development of programs and activities advancing the professional and academic environment for equity and diversity to thrive within the university.
Zhang said he believes participating in this opportunity will enhance his teaching practices by making all types of diversity topics routine and more systematic.
The Journey for Employment
by Morgan Grubbs, photo courtesy of Debra Sanderson
Debra Sanderson, a 2008 College of Media & Communication graduate with a major in public relations and a minor in general business, had been trying to obtain a job in entertainment public relations since graduation. With an optimistic attitude and motivation to find a job in the competitive Los Angeles area, Sanderson found herself with a full-time job in the entertainment industry as of November 2010.
Sanderson now works full-time at Mandy Films, a production company in Beverly Hills. She is the second assistant to Leonard Goldberg, a well-known, well-respected producer. As the second assistant to Goldberg, her job duties include maintaining the office, answering phones, scheduling, reading scripts, and maintaining rolodexes and contact databases.
Sanderson said she applied for this job through a website called Entertainment Careers, which is something most people warn against. But, after all the struggle, she said she felt relieved and gratified, and considered obtaining this position a victory because of the hard work she put into the search. Sanderson also has positive advice for those committed to finding a job.
“I applied for this job in June or July 2010 and received the position in November, so never give up,” Sanderson said. “Sometimes things happen in between the time you apply and the time you get a call or an e-mail. You just never know. I received an e-mail asking if I was still interested and if I could come in for an interview. I went in and received a job offer maybe a week later and started two weeks after that. It was a quick turnaround. With job pursuits, remember to follow up. It can be easy to get lost in the fray, but you want to stay fresh in their mind without being a pest about it.”
Sanderson said the College of Media & Communication helped her countless times with her cover letters and resumé and was an important source for advice and help regarding websites and contact information. Sanderson said although the assistance from the college played a significant role in her job search, she believes that most of the time she was trying to do much of the searching herself.
“It’s difficult when someone is interested in a very specific field and in a completely different state like I was,” Sanderson said. “They probably have more contacts and information for companies and graduates in Texas and surrounding areas.”
Sanderson said her advice for soon-to-be graduates is to start early, be proactive, network with everyone possible at Texas Tech, use all available social networking and job websites available, and stick with your dream job if it is something you want and love to do. However, Sanderson also warned that being realistic is necessary because the search will be tough.
“Mentally prepare yourself for some struggle,” Sanderson said, “because you may not get the job you want two months after graduating. It’s going to take a lot of hard work, preparation and navigating through everything.”
Changing Health Behavior, Improving Health Outcomes
By Nicholas Stockland, photo by Tarryn Lambert
John Wirtz, Ph.D., assistant professor of public relations, is teaching Designing Mass Media Health Campaigns, a new special topics graduate course beginning this semester.
The course will focus on how to design mass media health campaigns, while incorporating common theories used to guide campaign development, according to Texas Tech’s College of Media & Communication website.
Wirtz said the class is both theoretical and practical.
“It’s a hybrid class,” he said. “It incorporates a range of theories in coordination with an applied element.”
PubMed.gov states that a media health campaign “attempts to change health behavior and improve health outcomes.” Such a campaign should motivate people to change any existing unhealthy behaviors and initiate new and healthier habits.
Wirtz said his students will apply their knowledge in the classroom with rural health clinics in the West Texas area to conduct a health campaign focused on encouraging people to keep their medical appointments. He said students for this class come from various backgrounds, with majors including public relations, advertising, political science and business.
Along with Designing Mass Media Health Campaigns, Wirtz also teaches Principles of Public Relations and Strategies of Public Relations. He has more than 10 years of professional experience in fund-raising, donor relations, and nonprofit public relations.