Texas Tech University

Converging News

February 2017

In this issue of Converging News:

Dean's Note

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

Dear CoMC Friends:

When I was in college the stereotype I held of an entrepreneur was a renegade loner creating a better mousetrap or computer technology in his parent's basement. These were people who didn't want to work for “the man” and who would chafe in a corporate setting.

The world, of course, has revolutionized and changed. Around the time I was graduating from college, I rented movies from Blockbuster, took pictures with a Kodak, and drove my father's hand-me-down Oldsmobile. American enterprise is littered with the wreckage of companies that didn't think like entrepreneurs, no matter how big or successful they were.

Accordingly, the ethic we pitch to our students is that it doesn't matter if you work for a private company, a nonprofit, a government agency, or even yourself: the shrewd leader wants entrepreneurs on the job, not drones. One of the best examples of that kind of thinking is Noelle Vela, who was a public relations major from the border region and who has now recently completed her professional MA at CoMC.

Noelle received a lot of great assistance from faculty members like Trent Seltzer and Geoff Graybeal; I was honored to be the adviser for her capstone professional project. As you can read in the following story, she has been nationally honored for her breakthrough idea of creating a non-partisan, one-stop app for young Hispanics to learn about campaigns and elections, from local to national races. Noelle is a collaborative entrepreneur, one who embodies a spirit you will find in many of our students who know that ideas and innovation are welcome at the best of enterprises, no matter how big or how small.

Best wishes,

David D. Perlmutter

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

CoMC Alumni Host 2017 Career Development Conference in Dallas


CDC Panel

Texas Tech University College of Media & Communication students and recent graduates had the opportunity to attend the 2017 Career Development Conference in Dallas on Jan. 9.

The conference is an annual event hosted by CoMC alumni working in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Laurie Nelson (B.A. public relations, 2014), an account coordinator for HCK2, served as the chair for the event. She said she first attended the conference when she was a student.

“What brought me back as an alumna was the desire to share with current students what I had learned and taken away from attending as a recent graduate the year before,” Nelson said. “I am at my current job because of a connection I had made through the CDC, and that's a big part of why this event exists. It's not necessarily just about landing a job, but teaching students how to network and use the connections they make to their best advantage throughout their careers.”

Nelson said one of her biggest take-aways from this year's conference was the opportunity to see how truly invested in connecting with students the TTU CoMC alumni group in Dallas is.  

“Through months of planning and organizing we recruited a number of alumni from various graduating classes to speak with students and they didn't just agree to attend, but were excited about being there,” Nelson said. “Our alumni are passionate about helping students and guiding them through the start of their careers, and that's great to see from the perspective of a former student attendee.”

Matthew Cobb (B.A. journalism, 2010, and B.A. advertising, 2011), senior marketing coordinator for the City of Allen Parks and Recreation Department, served as a committee chair for the event.

“Being involved with the CDC has provided the rewarding experience of helping students get a leg up on the job hunt and prepare for professional careers,” Cobb said. “By serving on the planning committee, I've had the opportunity to meet and build relationships with many of our college's outstanding alumni.”

Cobb said his involvement in the event reminded him of the dedication that TTU CoMC professors, staff and alumni have to ensuring students will excel as professionals. 

Groups meeting at the CDC

“The CDC is the perfect example of how it benefits to be a Red Raider,” Cobb said. “Not only do students receive a great education, but a strong network of alumni provide help with career development.”

Joy Stratton Medellin (B.A. public relations, 2015) was also a committee chair for the conference. She said the first CDC event she attended connected her to the recruiter for her current position. She works as a content specialist at HCK2 Partners.

“I came back this year as an alumna, panelist and recruiter because I want other recent graduates to have the same experience I did,” Medellin said. “I remember how scary it was graduating without a plan, but this conference really works. We are fortunate to have such a dedicated alumni network.”

Medellin said volunteering as a member of the committee opened her eyes to everything that goes on behind the scenes to make the conference possible.

“When I was a recent graduate, I had no idea the amount of work and the hours it takes to make the CDC a success,” Medellin said. “When the alumni and committee chairs say they are here for the students to help any way they can, we really mean it! Otherwise we wouldn't have put that much time and energy into its success.”

Madeline Woods (B.A. media strategies, 2016) said that as a recent graduate from Plano, Texas, she attended the CDC for the first time this year for the opportunity to network with successful alumni.

“I learned so many interesting things, but I think the most valuable was realizing how much our alums genuinely care about helping us as we enter the workforce,” Woods said. “Networking and going out of your comfort zone is so important.”

Jade Samaniego, a senior media strategies major from Dallas, said that attending her first CDC this year opened her eyes to the importance of pursuing networking opportunities and looking for new skills to learn.

“The event was very beneficial, informative and relaxed,” Samaniego said. “I would have loved to have attended in past years. I would recommend everyone in the media and communications college to make the effort to attend this.”

CoMC Alum Recognized by NAB Education Foundation for Innovative ‘Vozra' App


Noelle Vela
Noelle Vela

Noelle Vela was first inspired to create the app “Vozra” when she was an undergraduate student in Texas Tech's College of Media & Communication in March 2015.

Nearly two years later, she has a bachelor's degree in public relations, a master's degree in mass communications, and her app was recently recognized with a nomination from the National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation.

“My experience at the NAB show was beyond incredible,” Vela said. “The fact that I was among innovative individuals that developed products to enhance media was amazing. The award that I was nominated for was the Excellence in Innovative Technology Award by the NAB Education Foundation. The requirements for the award were to ‘design a product that relates to television, radio, digital, mobile technologies, social media, streaming, information management, web or other telecommunications-based applications.'”

Vozra, an app idea that was formed for a submission to the 2015 Ohio International Scripps Competition, has turned into a political gaming app. With a target audience of Hispanics ages 13-18, the app was particularly useful during the 2016 election by giving users access to quizzes, surveys and polling, to educate about the nuances of the electoral process.

“It wasn't until starting the graduate program at CoMC where I began to move towards a full development of Vozra,” Vela said. “I met Paul Valadez, my business partner and developer, and began building the prototype in October 2015.”

Vela said Vozra 1.0 was released in April for CoMC's Lone Startup student competition, and then the beta version for iOS and Android was launched in August of last year. Vozra was then showcased at the NAB show in November and now has approximately 200 users.

“It's been an incredible, but tough, journey including a lot of peaks and valleys,” Vela said. “But, the peaks were always rewarding. To see my first drawings, sketches and rough drafts of Vozra to what it is now is a great feeling. It's gone through a lot of growth, and so have I. Overall, a very rewarding experience!”

Geoffrey Graybeal, Ph.D., assistant public relations professor in CoMC, said Vela's app was the first thing that came to his mind when he heard the criteria for the NAB Education Foundation's Award for Excellence in Innovative Technology.

“Noelle has worked hard to take an innovative idea and execute on making it a reality with the spring 2016 launch of Vozra,” Graybeal said. “As Vozra grew out of educational and extracurricular opportunities offered here in the college and at Texas Tech, and was officially unveiled at our Lone Startup competition, it was a nice honor for Noelle to receive national recognition for what those of us in Lubbock have always known, that from here, excellence—in innovative technology—is possible.”

EMC Major Interns with National Association of Television Program Executives


Stephanie Jarvie
Stephanie Jarvie

Stephanie Jarvie, a senior electronic media and communications major from San Antonio, spent a week interning with the National Association of Television Program Executives from Jan. 14 – 19 in Miami.

Jarvie said she chose to apply for the internship because she wanted to get a glimpse into the future of the career she is pursuing.

“I decided to pursue the NATPE internship because I hope to become a screenwriter and pitch my own show at the NATPE Conference one day,” Jarvie said. “Starting out as an intern is a wonderful opportunity to meet industry personnel and see first-hand how networks pick new TV shows.”

Robert Peaslee, chair of the Department of Journalism & Electronic Media, was a mentor Jarvie described as “instrumental” in the process of pursuing and securing her internship.

“Stephanie is one of the most hard-working and conscientious students I've ever taught, so it was easy to recommend her for the NATPE internship,” Peaslee said. “I hope the experience [was] as fun, inspirational and instructive for her as it was for me as a faculty fellow several years ago.”

Jarvie said her main job during the internship was to help the conference run smoothly, and despite the long days, she ended up having a lot of fun in the process.

Stephanie Jarvie with group

“I met so many amazing individuals and made lifelong friendships with the other interns,” Jarvie said. “We worked very long hours and didn't have anyone but each other to lean on while trying to survive the copious struggles of staying in Miami Beach's nicest hotel and attending exclusive industry parties—that's the sort of thing that bonds you for life! Even just the food was outstanding; I have never seen anything like it.”

Jarvie said one of her most influential professors at Texas Tech is Robert Giovannetti, senior associate athletics director for Texas Tech, who she said encouraged her to step up to the plate even if she was not ready to pitch.

“Stephanie is bright and engaging,” Giovannetti said. “It was truly a pleasure having her in my class.  She is one of the best we have to offer.”

Jarvie said the networking opportunities were also incredible, and they included big names such as “Forensic Files” creator Gary Lico, “Shades of Blue” and “Eyewitness” creator Adi Hasak, creator and executive producer of “Nashville” Callie Khouri, creator of “Modern Family” Steve Levitan, “Desperate Housewives” actress and “Devious Maid” producer Eva Longoria, and “Full House”'s Bob Saget.

“As unbelievable and exciting as it was to talk with the amazing people it was more fascinating to be a seat filler during the sessions and get a first-hand look at the industry in action. For the first time the idea of ‘making it' in this industry didn't seem so out of reach,” Jarvie said. “It's going to take a lot of hard work and dedication, a few big mistakes and disappointments, but most importantly kindness and faith.”

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