The College of Media & Communication was honored by the choice of Mr. Jason Jenkins
(Journalism BA '97) as spring 2018 commencement speaker. Mr. Jenkins, you may recall,
received an Outstanding Alumni award from CoMC last year and he has never failed to
be kind, supportive and empathic with our students. In fact, after the graduation
ceremony for undergraduates he came to our reception and spent several hours interacting
individually with students and their loved ones. We also felt it was important to
share the evocative and impassioned speech that he gave with not just those in physical
attendance so this month I've turned over my Dean's column of Converging News to Mr.
Jenkins. Please read and be inspired.
David D. Perlmutter, Ph.D. Professor and Dean
Transcript of Spring 2018 Commencement Speech by Jason Jenkins (Journalism BA '97).
Congratulations graduates. You worked hard and now you are here. Chancellor Duncan,
President Schovanec, Provost Galyean, Regents, distinguished faculty, administration,
students, and guests, thank you for having me here. It's truly an honor to be here
and to give the commencement address to the Class of 2018.
So how did I get here today? I was in a meeting back in March and I received a phone
call with an 806 area code. I was fairly surprised and not sure who it was, so I stepped
out of the meeting. When I answered, it was the President and he told me he was calling
about a commencement speaker. In the short time he said that, I went to PR mode thinking,
"I'm shocked Zach Thomas hasn't done one of these yet. Then I thought maybe he wants
me to put him in touch with Danny Amendola, Wes Welker, Kris Kocurek or maybe... Jakeem
Grant? No, it's Zach Thomas... has to be Zach Thomas."
So when he said that he would like for me to give the commencement speech, I quickly
realized that football accolades must not have anything to do with the selection criteria.
Like most of you in this room, I had zero tackles, zero interceptions and zero touchdowns
for the Red Raiders. The only difference is that I was actually on the team. Well,
I think I had two tackles against University of Pacific. I'm not sure that even counts.
I'm still pinching myself for this surreal moment. It's always emotional for me to
be back in Lubbock at Texas Tech University... my university... our university. My
head and my heart automatically returned back to a time when I was walking past the
Double T sign, eating in the University Center, and sitting in those seats; like you.
One moment it seems a long time ago, the next moment it feels like yesterday.
Never in a million years when I was sitting in your seat did I dream that I would
be standing here. It's been an incredible journey so far. A journey that took me to
different geographies... from Lubbock, Texas to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to Lehigh
University, then to Houston to Texas Southern University, then to the San Francisco
49ers, and then to the Miami Dolphins. I also had the chance to experience Osaka,
London, Mexico City and Hawaii through my years in the NFL.
But I am here to tell you that it won't be the geography that marks your journey,
it will be the depth of your relationships, the foundation of your values, and the
courage of your decisions.
My career and my life so far have been bigger than any of the dreams I had sitting
in those chairs. It's because of the people who helped me starting with the love and
support of my family; my mother Mary Clay and my father CL Whittington. Thanks to
my wife, Elizabeth, and our wonderful kids Liya, Aiden and Sloane.
It's because of my family, friends and countless others with shared values that gave
me the courage to make decisions that were at times outside the scope of my dreams
As a result - it's a cliché - but I don't feel I've ever worked a day in my life,
and most days I feel like the luckiest guy around.
The depth of your relationships: Have the humility to accept help and more importantly
put yourself in the position to be helped through your relationships. I had a lot
of people that invested in my success. They were servant leaders to me without me
even realizing it or expecting a reward.
First off were my parents. As a young child, my mother took me to her graduate school
classes at Prairie View A&M. This amazing woman sacrificed so much of herself. This
is where I got my love of education.
My father was a former professional football player for the Houston Oilers and was
a coach. I remember spending late nights on his couch while he was creating game plans
as a defensive coordinator at Texas Southern University. Here is where I developed
my passion for football. Here at Tech, I remember Dr. Bill Dean. I remember sitting
in his office and talking about my career aspirations. I really appreciated the time
he spent with me.
The athletic administration at Tech was extremely nurturing, both during my time with
the team and working with them as a member of the Black Student Association. An often
used quote from Muhammad Ali said that "service to others is the rent you pay for
your room here on Earth." Ultimately, you must find a way to serve; independent of
your grade point average, degree or upcoming job prospects. You have an obligation
and responsibility to help others.
The foundation of your values: Football is a metaphor for life. I owe everything in
my life to football. It taught me work ethic, mental and physical toughness, competiveness
and how to overcome adversity. It can serve a uniting tool to bring people together
of all races, genders, orientations and identities. I went to a predominately African-American
high school, Willowridge High School in Missouri City, Texas. For the most part, the
first time I was around students and teammates that were a different race than me
was here at Tech.
I remember the first time walking into the locker room and being apprehensive, but
I quickly found out it didn't matter. We were a team, we were together and nothing
mattered except each other and winning games. I made a lot of friends and had a WHOLE
LOT OF FUN. Sports brought us together. I've always tried to take those qualities
and apply them to my personal and professional life. It's about teamwork and learning
other people's stories. It's also about the importance of humanity and giving back.
Horace Mann said "Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity."
The courage in your decisions: Life and your career path are tied into the decisions
you make. You have to have the courage to follow a path and trust in and believe in
yourself. For me it was getting out of my comfort zone and leaving Texas for Pennsylvania
to start my career in athletics. I went to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania after one phone
interview and didn't know a soul out there. Having the courage to leave my family
and friends set me on a path where I was able to make relationships and learn. I would
have never had the courage to leave Texas if I would had never left home to attend
Texas Tech. You have to trust in something and believe that everything is connected.
Always trust and believe in yourself and have a vision for your future. That vision
and confidence will carry you when times get tough. You will learn something in your
success and more importantly your challenges.
Now that I've talked about me, let me talk about you for a minute. We are living in
an important time in history. We are living in a world where technology is changing
exponentially. It's not linear. The pace of change we are about to experience is unprecedented
in human history. When I was at Texas Tech, we didn't have cell phones let alone social
media. There was no e-mail and practically no Internet. That is all just in the last
25 years. We'll experience more change in the next five to 10 years than the last
25. How are you preparing for this tech disruption?
And politically and socially, we are living in a polarized world and in an America
that is arguably more polarized than any time since the Civil War. We can't accept
this. To some degree, the 140-character cynical, sensational sound byte and the narcissism
of social media has corrupted our senses. We are losing our civility, our empathy,
and our humanity.
But here is the good news: YOU are the good news. Your generation has the chance to
do something historic on behalf of civilization: to relight the torch of liberty and
justice that has sustained so many through so much darkness the world over. YOU are
smarter, more informed, more tolerant and through your connected relationships more
mature and wise than any generation that's come before you. You have values. YOU are
not afraid of diversity - and see the good in all. You care about the content of people's
character, not superficial labels meant to divide us. YOUR eyes are wide open and
you have the courage and power to wake up this great country.
Texas Tech, graduating class of 2018, we believe in you. Be united. Be a continuous
learner and have judgment, but more importantly. Be a Red Raider. YOU'VE got the ball
and we all believe in you. Now run with it and make us proud! Go Tech!
A passion for communication, sparked by dance
By Alexa Rosas
This spring, the Banner Bearer for the College of Media & Communication is public
relations major, Alana Krafsur. The accomplished senior, from El Paso, Texas, will
be pursuing a master's degree in mass communications at Texas Tech University in the
fall while she works as a teaching assistant for Business and Professional Communications.
"I absolutely love the CoMC," declared Krafsur. "The students are friendly and the
faculty is outstanding. All of my professors pushed me to strive for academic excellence.
It is clear they want their students to succeed, which inspired me to make them proud.
I am a firm believer that the CoMC is the best place to pursue a degree in PR. I wouldn't
have come this far if it wasn't for the exceptional faculty and students motivating
me to go above and beyond what is expected."
Krafsur also credits her hard work to the lessons she learned while studying ballet
and Russian language in 2013 at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow, Russia.
"I was a ballet dancer for fifteen years. Dance has made me the hardworking person
I am today," reported Krafsur. "Ballet taught me that nothing comes easy and that
wanting something isn't enough. You must put in continuous effort."
Alana was one of 15 American students chosen for the program, which was funded by
the U.S. State Department on behalf of the National Security Language Initiative for
Youth, and was intended to create a positive relationship between the nations using
"I trained four hours a day in ballet and four hours in Russian language. On weekends,
I stayed with a host family to utilize my newly-acquired Russian language skills and
learn first-hand about the culture," said Krafsur. "The program was a full dance and
language immersion. All my ballet classes were taught in Russian and my host family
spoke limited English to motivate me to learn the Russian language."
While in Moscow, Krafsur was chosen to speak to the Russian press about her time at
the Bolshoi Academy, thus igniting her passion for her future field.
"Being exposed to the media in this way sparked my interest in the communications
field. At the end of the program, I was one of three students invited to train at
the Bolshoi Academy year-round," said Krafsur. "I respectfully declined the offer
to study ballet and relocate to Russia in pursuit of attending my senior year of high
school in El Paso."
As Krafsur's senior year of high school was drawing to a close, the student was offered
a spot in the prestigious dance program at the University of Arizona, but Krafsur
wasn't quite sure.
"I kept pondering on the prospect of studying communications," Krafsur said. "As a
result, I left my fifteen years of ballet behind, transferred to Texas Tech University
and changed my major. After I finally made that difficult decision, I poured myself
into my new field of study and thoroughly enjoyed the challenge. Looking back, it
was the best decision I ever made."
Texas Tech debate team fights its way to the top
By Alexa Rosas
From sports to academics, Texas Tech University is in the midst of a memorable year,
and even non-spectator activities such as debate are playing a role in that, said
Adam Testerman, Instructor in the Department of Communication Studies and Director
of Forensics in the College of Media & Communication.
"The debate team represents the wave of success Tech is experiencing now because of
their investment and commitment to excellence," said Testerman. "In general, debate
is the culmination of a liberal arts education. To succeed in debate, students must
be able to develop a working knowledge of philosophy, current events, political science
and history. So, if a university is doing academics the right way, debate success
reflects those efforts."
The debate season runs from September to March, and has been a success in past years,
reported Testerman. But this year was unlike the rest, as Tech remained a dominant
team throughout the season.
"The debaters closed out finals of three separate invitational tournaments, placed
three partnerships in the top 15 regular-season team rankings, and put together a
top 5 school-wide finish," reported Testerman.
Maria DeMarco, who transferred from the University of Utah to Texas Tech in the fall
of 2017, and her partner placed in the top eight teams at this year's National Parliamentary
Debate Tournament. At the second national tournament that the Tech debate team participated
in, they placed third accompanying two other TTU teams in the top six.
"I transferred from the University of Utah to Texas Tech specifically for their amazing
team," said DeMarco, "Not only is it extremely successful, but its members and coaching
staff are also wonderful people in general, and I'm so glad to be a part of it. The
activity of parliamentary debate itself is known as being extremely strenuous, time
consuming, and draining. Texas Tech is extremely rare in that it has simultaneously
fostered a healthy team environment without sacrificing competitive success."
During the regular season, debaters are required to fit a grueling training schedule
into their academic schedule. This schedule consists of a weekly team practice, an
individual coaching session and assignments that relate to topics that may appear
during competition. This season was slightly different, according to Testerman, as
the team worked together to challenge one another like never before.
"Our practice rounds were always high-level throw-downs, because our teams are excellent
across the board," said Testerman. "We were able to better refine our arguments and
strategies by testing them within our team structure, which gave us an advantage heading
into competition. It is easy to lose sight of the variety of successes that the university experiences
in a year, suggested Testerman, but that does not mean that those successes are any
"Debate success contributes to the identity of a university," said Testerman. "It
demonstrates a commitment to active knowledge, to the benefits of democratic engagement
and dialog, and to the belief in the power of discourse to improve social dialog and
empower individual students."
CoMC research examines Snapchat addiction
By Jeff Hunter
With 158 million users and counting, Snapchat is one of the fastest-growing social
media platforms. Users, many of them young adults, spend an average of 25-30 minutes
per day using the photo-sharing app. New research from the College of Media & Communication
(CoMC) at Texas Tech University suggests that some of those users are addicted.
Since Snapchat is such a major player in the social media realm, it was surprising
to Associate Professor Narissra Maria Punyanunt-Carter, Ph.D., and undergraduate communications
studies student, J.J. Delacruz, that there was not extensive research on the burgeoning
platform and its effects on its college-aged users.
"On a college campus, it seems like Snapchat is used by just about everybody," Delacruz
said. "We wanted to look at all the communication that was happening, and find out
why, exactly, they were using it."
The duo, along with a fellow researcher at SUNY New Paltz, conducted a study to examine
the communication behaviors of college students when it comes to Snapchat use. Their
article, "Investigating the Relationships Among College Students' Satisfaction, Addiction,
Needs, Communication Apprehension, Motives, and Uses & Gratifications with Snapchat,"
was published in the journal "Computers in Human Behavior" last fall.
Results of the study, which included 475 college students, show that Snapchat is primarily
used because it satisfies users' needs for entertainment. But meeting those needs
for entertainment could come with a price: it is also addictive.
"People use Snapchat for entertainment mainly because they think it is fun," Delacruz
said. "But because it is so fun, people are likely to overuse it and become addicted."
The study also examined other aspects of the platform.
"It is important to understand how Snapchat differs from other social media apps,
and how these differences may affect relationships and, specifically, interpersonal
communication," the authors wrote. "By understanding how people use Snapchat, we can
make better predictions about why and what ways people communicate on this new medium.
In turn, we can learn how to be more competent and effective users of Snapchat."
Delacruz is now a graduate student pursuing an M.A. in Mass Communication from CoMC,
but the research began when he was an undergrad. Carter's collaboration with an undergraduate
student in her research is an example of CoMC's commitment to providing research opportunities
for students at every phase of their education. Delacruz said the experience has helped
him with the transition to master's level work.
"I am glad that I got my feet wet and plunged in," Delacruz said. "It was a great
experience early on. I learned a lot about the research process. Putting it into practice
is a lot different than just learning about it."
The Spring CoMC Scholarship Luncheon
By Alexa Rosas
On Friday, March 30, the College of Media & Communication hosted the spring scholarship
ceremony and luncheon in the McKenzie-Merket Alumni Center.
One of the event's notable speakers was graduating senior in journalism, Amanda Castro-Crist,
who discussed her journey, which has been far from traditional, as her transition
from high school into college took 10 years.
Once she graduated from high school, Castro-Crist struggled to decide on a major as
she was torn between education, English and medicine. After taking some classes sporadically,
she began to work full-time.
"It was 10 years before I decided to return to school and study journalism," Castro-Crist
said. "Since then, I've completed two associate degrees at Amarillo College - while
also serving as editor of the award-winning student newspaper, "The Ranger" - and
internships with the Amarillo Globe-News, Southwest Airlines and Texas Tech's Office
of Communications & Marketing."
In January, Amanda's internship with the university's Office of Communication & Marketing
became a full-time job and she became Senior Editor.
In her speech, Castro-Crist simply wanted to convey how grateful she is for the people
and opportunities that have presented themselves to her in her time in the CoMC.
"It's rare to get a chance to publicly thank those who have made your success possible,
who have changed your life and in some ways, saved your life," she said. "This journey
wasn't always the easiest, and sometimes I wish I had finished a long time ago, but
when I think of all I've experienced since coming back to school, I'm really glad
that this is how it all worked out. I'm incredibly thankful for all of the opportunities
I've been given at, and because of, Texas Tech."
The bases are loaded, and Casey Buscher is on all of them
By Alexa Rosas
Senior Casey Buscher has all but started her career in the sports industry while working
towards her degree in electronic media & communication with a minor in public relations.
In order to achieve her goal of becoming a sports reporter on a major network, ideally
as an ESPN College GameDay reporter, Buscher has completed an internship with the
Washington Redskins, spent three years working as a communications assistant for Texas
Tech Athletics and has done freelance work for Fox Sports and ESPN.
"My internship with the Washington Redskins has helped me put a foot in the door into
the NFL. Working for Tech Athletics for the past three years has been incredible and
I have really gotten to learn how to work within college athletics. Through my internship,
I have been able to work the College World Series, many Big 12 Championships and NCAA
tournaments for March Madness," reported Buscher.
While her experience spans both professional and collegiate sports, the connections
she has made along the way also inspire confidence for Buscher and her future.
"I have met many contacts at these tournaments and they will be my connections for
career placements in the future. I have freelanced for ESPN and Fox Sports all throughout
college at Women's and Men's Basketball games, Tech Football games and I got the opportunity
to work for Fox Sports for the 2017 Big 12 Football Championship."
Though it may seem that Buscher doesn't have time for anything outside of the realm
of sports, she has managed to be a committed member of the CoMC's Dean's Student Ambassador
program, work as a Chancellor Ambassador and as the External Vice President for the
Student Alumni Board, be President of the Association for Women in Communications
and for her sorority, Delta Gamma and finally, be a member of the Women's Leadership
Institute and the PanHellenic Leadership Council.
"Each organization has helped me in a different way," said Buscher. "Recruiting students
to CoMC in DSA has helped me grow and mentor students about why I love CoMC and all
of the opportunities Tech has to offer. As a Chancellor Ambassador, I have the opportunity
to represent the university on a bigger scale, working events for the President, the
Chancellor and prestigious events for donors and Tech Athletics. The Women's Leadership
Institute and the Association for Women in Communications has helped me learn how
to work as a woman in a male-dominated field, how to mentor other women and how to
truly support driven females all around me. People within these organizations have
empowered me to become a strong career-driven woman."
Buscher attributes a large amount of her growth and success to the College of Media
& Communication, and especially to the people in it.
"My time in the College of Media & Communication has helped me grow tremendously.
This college has helped me find out who I am and who I want to become," said Buscher.
"The people in this college have believed in me since I walked into the doors the
first day of my freshman year. My professors, Dean Perlmutter, Emily Balke, Don Ellis,
and so many more are the reason I have become who I am."
Texas Tech student goes from Lubbock to Capitol Hill
By Alexa Rosas
Junior from St. Louis, Missouri, Alex Oscarson, who is majoring in public relations
and double minoring in both political science and English, is currently interning
in the office of Texas Senator, John Cornyn.
Oscarson was selected for her current position through the Government & Public Service
Internship Program that Texas Tech University offers. After two interviews, two essays
and two letters of recommendation, she was placed with Senator Cornyn where, as an
intern, Alex gives constituents private tours of the capitol building, runs errands
among the house and senate offices, takes care of loose ends around the office and
occasionally assists the legislative and press teams in projects.
"My main goal of this internship is to simply learn and absorb as much as I can,"
said Oscarson. "I am surrounded by some of the most knowledgeable and influential
men and women in the world, and I have the chance to benefit from their experience.
I have tried to take advantage of every opportunity here, and as a result of this,
the people I have been able to meet and the doors that have been opened have and will
continue to shape the course of my life and career."
Alex found the fast-paced nature of the political world alluring, and she believes
that her time in the College of Media & Communication has left her well prepared.
"I was taught media theories that I see in action every day, taught different writing
styles I have now used, and taught digital strategies and social media trends I see
discussed in my office regularly," Oscarson reported. "Perhaps above all, and as its
name would suggest, the CoMC taught me how to communicate well in the professional
political world. I was not just given knowledge; I was given confidence for which
I am incredibly grateful."
While Oscarson hopes to eventually return to Texas, she is looking forward to gaining
as much experience as she can while in Washington D.C.
"I would like to stay in D.C., for at least a few years post-graduation to continue
to gain experience. I would like to eventually work in the private sector and settle
in Texas, but while I am young and beginning my career, there is no better place than
Capitol Hill. It is full of life, energy and ambition, and I couldn't imagine not
wanting to return here."
May 2018 Commencement speaker: Jason Jenkins (Journalism BA, '97)
Love this month's issue? Share it with your friends!
Are you interested in receiving the 'Converging News' newsletter?