Texas Tech University

Converging News: December 2017

December 2017

In this issue of Converging News:

Dean's Note

David D. Perlmutter, Ph.D.
Dean David D. Perlmutter, Ph.D.

Dear CoMC Friends:

The story of the success of our college has many authors, but this month we feature a particular group of students who are our "front line" for engaging potential students, their parents or guardians, and other visitors.

They are the Dean's Student Ambassadors, an elite group of students selected by their peers (as well as staff and faculty) to serve, as their name suggests, in meeting individuals and groups and generally representing the college everywhere, including on the road, recruiting. They come from every program in the college, from small towns and big cities all over Texas and beyond. They are the result of a recent merger of two previous student groups whose missions had become quite similar.

Their second function is a less visible one but just as important. I meet with the Dean's Student Ambassadors each month, as a group, and individually when they want to see me.

They are the voice of the students for questions, issues, concerns, and kudos for everything from the state of our facilities to ideas for new classes to requests for help in student initiatives. Quite a few of the innovations and improvements we have installed in the College of Media & Communication in the last five years have arisen from brainstorming with the Dean's Student Ambassadors or their predecessors.

They are the best of the best, and we all owe them a great deal. 


David D. Perlmutter

David D. Perlmutter, Ph.D.
Professor and Dean



CoMC Dean's Student Ambassadors Make Impact

By Alexa Rosas

Group photo of the CoMC Dean's Student Ambassadors for 2017-2018 academic year.
(Above image) The College of Media & Communication's elite Dean's Student Ambassadors for 2017-2018 academic year.

As an elite position on campus, being a Dean's Student Ambassador in the TTU College of Media Communication has its perks, as participants are exposed to unique networking opportunities to build their resume. However, for these 25 student leaders, one of the most rewarding things that comes from their role is the opportunity to build relationships with prospective students of the College of Media & Communication.

According to Dean of the College of Media & Communication David D. Perlmutter, "The Dean's Student Ambassadors fulfill two major roles. First, they represent their fellow students to the college administration, including myself. They have been invaluable in informing me and other college administrators about issues, problems, concerns, and opportunities at the undergraduate level—from a bathroom malfunctioning to ideas for innovation and curriculum."

He added, "I could probably produce a list of twenty major parts of the college that have been changed because of some comment or proposal put forward by a student in the Dean's Student Ambassadors."

"They are impacting students' lives," Manager of Student Success Initiatives Emily Balke said. "It's a big decision to go to college; it's a big decision to decide where you want to go to college and it's a big decision to decide what to major in. I think this group gives them a chance to see the fruits of their labor, and is one that allows the ambassadors to see the bigger picture and to help them to recognize the impact of what they do."

"I needed a group of students that I could train to talk about different things in the college, and to talk about what it's like to be one of our students to prospective students, so I began our Student Ambassador program," Balke reported. "They would help me with all different events here on campus, some events at local high schools, and they were that vital student perspective."

Prior to the formation of the Dean's Student Ambassador group, the college had two groups. The first was the Student Ambassador group, a group of students who were trained on all the different aspects of the College of Media & Communication. The second group was the Dean's Student Council, which was a group that met with the Dean monthly to discuss what was going on in the college. In 2016, the two different groups were merged to create the Dean's Student Ambassadors, a select group of CoMC students who work to support their college.

Balke said that while the Dean's Student Ambassadors are the college's "go-to's", the group members realize that being selected is an honor. Students applying for the program must have a 3.0 GPA, be pursuing a major in the college, and successfully participate in a rigorous interview and training process.

"The Dean's Student Ambassadors get incredible training that probably wouldn't be available elsewhere because we give them a great deal of responsibility," Perlmutter said. "We ask them to be spokespeople, to co-manage events, [and] to organize initiatives and campaigns so that when these students finally go on the job market, I am able to explain to potential employers that these are people that we have immediately given a lot of central authority to, [and who] conduct the kind of affairs that most interns and other positions are not trusted with."

Senior John Patterson and junior Katie Main are both in their second year as Dean's Student Ambassadors.

"It's a great program, and there are a lot of different opportunities that come with being a part of it," Patterson said. "I have the opportunity to talk with the Dean of the college, I get to go to different events, talk to prospective students and let them know why Texas Tech is such a great place. I have met so many different people and have had a lot of opportunities that I didn't think I'd be able to have. It's a great program that I have loved every second of it."

Main especially appreciates the fact that she is able to share her love for her college and for all of the opportunities that it has awarded her.

"I think we are all on the same page when we say that we just want to make the college a better place," Main said. "We love it, and are so passionate about it that we want others to experience it as well."



New College Recruiter joins CoMC team

By Alexa Rosas

Ariana Martell joins CoMC as College Recruiter.
(Above image) Ariana Martell joins CoMC as College Recruiter.

The role of the college recruiter is to give students insight on what to expect when they attend college, said Academic Advisor for the College of Media & Communication, Kim Bergan. "For our college, it is especially important for us to have a great recruiter because we have so many different things to offer."

Earlier this Fall, Ariana Martell, a recent TTU CoMC graduate with a degree in Public Relations, became the new College Recruiter for the College of Media & Communication.

"The hardest part about my graduation was knowing that I wasn't going to be able to do what I love, which is getting to know people, and talking about the College of Media & Communication," Martell said. "So when I was told that this position was opening up, I knew that this was the job that I wanted."

Martell did not originally attend Texas Tech University with the intention of studying PR. She began her college career as a Vocal Performance major, but after taking some more classes, Ariana moved to the CoMC where she planned to pursue journalism. However, in 2015, Martell participated in the London Study Abroad program [see related story in this issue], and the experience solidified her plan to change course to become a Public Relations major.

Although Martell's college experience included moving from one major to another, she was still able to graduate in four years, and now feels confident in guiding other potential students as they embark on their journey here at TTU.

"I think that, for prospective students, it is easier to relate to someone who wasn't so sure about what they wanted to do when they got to college," Martell reported. "Somebody who changed their major a lot, somebody who has experience, and who is a recent graduate – someone like me."

Having a recent graduate in the position of College Recruiter gives the college an edge in the recruiting process, said Dean of the College of Media & Communication David D. Perlmutter.

"It is not absolutely necessary that everyone who works here has been a student here," Perlmutter said. "But it is always extremely helpful that someone can talk about their own personal experiences, questions, ideas, and what they see as the student perspective."

Martell also suggested that the outstanding programs offered to her by the college made her into the student that she was, and the employee that she is now, especially the Dean's Student Ambassadors, a group that allowed her to meet new people, to make new connections, and that overall enabled her to create a more enriching college experience during her undergraduate years at TTU.

"I think that when you are a student in college, you feel like you have to just go to class, study and do your homework, but it's so important to get involved and look for the opportunities in your college," said Martell. "I know that if it wasn't for Dean's Student Ambassadors, I wouldn't have this job and I would not have enjoyed my time at the College of Media & Communication as much as I did."

"If the opportunity comes for you to throw yourself into something and to get involved, I say you do it, because [it will] enhance your experience as you fall in love with the school and with the college," she added.

As a Dean's Student Ambassador, Martell gained an understanding of both effective communication skills and of the valuable information about the College that has benefited her tremendously as she settles into her newest role.

Perlmutter added, "I have known Ariana for quite some time now from her days as an undergraduate. She has always established herself as a thorough professional, and somebody who is absolutely 100% committed to the good of our college, its programs and our students." He continues, "[Ariana] will be able to explain who we are, what we are and what we can do for individuals and to all sorts of groups of people all over Texas – guidance counselors, parents and high school students most prominently."

According to Bergan, part of the interview process for the role of College Recruiter required the interviewee to give a 10-minute presentation on the CoMC, a difficult task for most people. However, the only real struggle that Martell faced was trimming her 25-minute presentation down to the required length.

"[Martell] got tremendous training to be an effective communicator to heterogeneous audiences, and especially to [potential students] who are trying to answer the very important question about what kind of college, major and university will help them to propel their lives and careers forward," Perlmutter added.

Martell is looking forward to the next few years of working as the Recruiter for the college that she has called home, while at the same time pursuing a master's degree in Higher Education.

"I really enjoyed the education that I received here," said Martell. "I learned the importance of communication and it is what has set me up for what I want to do. I know that public relations has been a really firm foundation for any education that I may continue to build on. I loved being a student in the CoMC."


Panamerican University Dean visits CoMC to further university collaboration

By Alexa Rosas

Panamerican University Dean visits CoMC to further university's collaboration
(Above)- Panamerican University Dean José Rafael Santana Villegas  visits CoMC to further the universities' collaboration.

College students in Mexico view the United States in many of the same ways that American college students view Mexico: as a party destination, or perhaps a place to spend a fun few days before returning to school. José Rafael Santana Villegas, Dean of the College of Communication at Panamerican University, Campus Guadalajara, Mexico, visited Texas Tech with the hope of changing that party perception.

"As neighbors, we've seen each other as countries to travel in, to have fun and enjoy vacations, but when thinking about studying abroad, both look to Europe," said Villegas.

Kent Wilkinson, professor of Journalism & Electronic Media and director of the Harris Institute for Hispanic and International Communication, is also aware of the way that American students view the neighboring country. 

"Clearly the political, economic and socio-cultural relationships between the U.S. and Mexico are important. This is especially true in border states like Texas and the states in northern Mexico," Wilkinson stated. "Too often, complex societies and multi-faceted international relations get boiled down to a few stereotypes and/or soundbites. The media play a role in this unfortunate process, and a key responsibility of higher education is to provide citizens with the knowledge and tools to counter such oversimplifications." 

However, both schools are convinced that there is a lot of potential in the future relationship between the two universities. Villegas suggested that beginning with "baby steps," such as short courses offered by both universities, could lead to longer exchange programs moving forward. 

"We have explored different possibilities, so TTU students and faculty can have the opportunity to come to Guadalajara, and our students and faculty members can go to Lubbock and get the experience of working with an American university," said Villegas.

Collaborative research between the two universities is already taking place, according to Wilkinson. 

"Partnerships like the one between CoMC and U.P. can help people in positions of influence in both countries see the other more broadly and clearly," he said. 

According to the Dean of the College of Media & Communication, David Perlmutter, the learning from which students will benefit in Mexico and in the U.S. will extend far beyond the classroom. 

"It's extremely important for our students to have as much exposure to different societies, cultures and peoples as possible," Perlmutter said. "This will help them with their careers because you never know who you're going to work for or where you will work. Second, international exposure helps them become better citizens, able to make decisions about foreign policy based on experience and not just the testimony of others."



CoMC students visit London 

By Alexa Rosas 

CoMC's Study Abroad in London 2017
CoMC runs a number of Study Abroad programs, including one in England. 

In June of last year, a group of College of Media & Communication students embarked on a two-week Study Abroad program in London. Led by Assistant Professor Justin Keene, Ph.D., and Associate Professor Katie Langford, Ph.D., students toured the capital city and met with representatives from Ink, the world's leading travel media company.

After the group had met with the two editors, it was clear that students then found it an easier proposition to envision their future careers on a global scale.

"I really understood that I could actually work there -- or somewhere like it," said Rachel Pereboom, a junior public relations major from New Braunfels, Texas.

Study Abroad is a valuable learning experience for students, said Keene. "[Students] get to put themselves in the shoes of someone else who is of a similar age and maybe even a similar background, but they just happen to live in a different country."

"The world has become much smaller in [both] a figurative way [and]in a symbolic way," said Roger Saathoff, Ph.D., associate professor in Journalism and Electronic Media. Introducing students to a nation that is different from their own can both widen the students' worldview and make them more comfortable with differences, he added.

To help immerse the students during their visit, students were enrolled in two classes while abroad: Visual Storytelling with a Smartphone and the Rhetoric of War and Remembrance. For each of the classes, the students would individually submit a 15-photo essay with captions suitable for social media every two days, as well as completing longer blog posts telling a story about what they had learned in the days prior. Finally, the students were required to turn in two longer editorial pieces, both of which were focused on the students' overall experience in London.

In addition to grading the students' writing, Langford also engaged with students as they traveled across the city, asking them to reflect on what they had learned throughout the day and what they had learned from their preassigned readings.

While the agency tour was a significant learning opportunity during the program, students also experienced a new perspective of history as they traveled around England.

"London is very old, and I think, in America, we get this skewed vision of history," Keene said.

As students visited the places where much of America's political and legal system were conceived, they begin to develop a more well-rounded view of history, according to Saathoff.

While the students took numerous photographs and wrote about their experiences, they explored the 900-year-old halls of Windsor Castle and the ancient alleys of Oxford. They experienced a different take on democracy in the Houses of Parliament, they gained a new perspective on history with tours of Westminster Abbey, Stonehenge, and the Roman Baths, and then they completed a scavenger hunt through the British Museum.

Keene said he enjoys watching the students of various backgrounds bond in a way that is unique to the Study Abroad program. "Your roommate is probably someone you didn't know prior to the trip," Keene said. "You definitely see [students] grow as a group where they start to cross these boundaries that exist within college."

The London Study Abroad trip was certainly an eye-opening experience for Pereboom.

"Before I went to London, I [had] always just assumed that I would live in Texas (or at least the United States) after college," she said. After spending two weeks in London, Pereboom now plans to broaden her post-graduation job search to include more of the world that surrounds her.


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