by Kelsey Turnipseed and Kate Yingling Hector, photo by Riannon Rowley, magazine illustration by Benjamin Jarvis
Andrew Byrne likes cars, peanut butter, art, and all things technological. His love for electronic media started in high school when he was the historian for his senior class. That year he took a lot of photographs and made a DVD for his senior class.
“That’s what got me started on my career path,” Byrne said.
After going to school in California, he decided Texas Tech University had a better degree plan for him. He valued the ability to tailor an Electronic Media & Communications degree to focus on photography, video, animation, and web design, so Byrne enrolled at Texas Tech.
“EMC was diverse, it gave me the freedom to do what I wanted,” Byrne said.
He has always had a passion for art; one of his favorite classes he took as an undergraduate was an art design class. During his time as a student, he was awarded first place in the Electronic Media & Communications Student Showcase for the Individual Multimedia Category. He was accepted as a member of Kappa Tau Alpha, a national honor society that recognizes academic excellence and promotes scholarship in journalism and mass communication. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Texas Tech in 2010 with an Electronic Media & Communications degree and a minor in Spanish.
After being approached by faculty, Byrne decided it would be beneficial to get his master’s degree. During graduate school, he was the web design graduate assistant for the College of Mass Communications.
“It was a unique position that doesn’t come around often,” he said.
Melissa Wofford, college design specialist and instructor, works closely with Byrne and said he is an integral member of the mass communications design team.
“He works diligently to keep the college website, electronic publications and social media content updated and engaging,” Wofford said. “Drew is extremely conscientious. I can count on him to complete his work and I can trust that he thinks critically about each assignment, consider what additional features would benefit the project and to bring to light any questions we need to consider before producing the final project.”
Byrne also helped publish the Mass Communicator and Tech ImPRESSions to the web. Instead of writing a thesis, he did a final project that included designing a new website for the returning KTXT-FM radio station.
“Working on the new website for KTXT was quite an experience,” he said.
When Byrne initially finished the mock-up, he was ecstatic. Unfortunately over the winter break, KTXT decided to go in a different direction.
“It was pretty crushing to have my design torn to shreds so fast, but I guess there was a lot of miscommunication during the planning stages of the website, and nobody really knew what they wanted until it was too late,” Byrne said.
After the year in school, he received his Master of Arts in Mass Communications in December 2011.
Byrne got his ideal job right out of college. He accepted the Web Design Specialist position at the College of Mass Communications at Texas Tech, where Byrne maintains and updates the college’s web site. He also monitors and updates the college’s Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages. Byrne also remains responsible for the web design of the college's magazines. The Fall 2011 issue of Tech imPRESSions was awarded the 2012 Clarion Award for Online Media by The Association for Women in Communications. Clarion Awards honor excellence in more than 100 categories across all communications disciplines.
“Real people are behind social media here, if you had a question someone will answer it or try and find the answer,” Byrne said.
Wofford said Byrne has made a positive impact on the college’s social media since he started working for the college full time.
“Real people are behind social media here, if you had a question someone will answer it or try and find the answer.” — Andrew Byrne
“As he came on as a full-time employee, he also took over the college's social media outlets and has grown significantly in that arena,” Wofford said. “For example, he has streamlined our outlets by eliminating duplicate accounts. We had a laugh over the day he had to fax Twitter to eliminate inactive college accounts.”
Recently Byrne created a Facebook event called “Throwback Thursday.” Every Thursday Byrne posts old college photos and followers are asked to guess who appears in the photos. Wofford said the event has been a success. “It has been a fun project and he plans to continue to post them until we move to our new building in the fall,” Wofford said.
Following the college’s social media feeds is beneficial to both students and alumni. Byrne posts articles and current information relevant to College of Mass Communications social media followers. He also creates and sends out several e-newsletters for the College of Mass Communications. He continues to create and design the online editions of the Tech ImPRESSions and the Mass Communicator. Byrne is currently working on designing a multimedia kit to send out to prospective students.
In addition to his responsibilities on the technical side of the college, Byrne also just finished his first semester teaching a Principles of Digital Media Production class.
“Teaching was never something I really considered doing. Several family members teach in elementary schools, so I already knew how stressful of a job it could be,” Byrne said.
On Byrne’s first day teaching, a candidate for an Electronic Media & Communications professor position was completing part of his interview process. The EMC faculty attended the class to observe the candidate teach the second half of Byrne’s class, but the interviewee wasn’t the only one feeling additional pressure.
“My first day was downright terrifying. I basically had the entire EMC faculty observing my very first day of teaching.”
Wofford said although she and Byrne teach different classes in different departments, the conversations they have had convey Byrne’s passion for teaching.
“I know he cares a great deal for his student's success and comprehension,” Wofford said. “Drew was recently elected as a staff senator. His desire to serve Texas Tech through this organization is indicative of his ambition to grow and to support Texas Tech and the college.”
When thoughts of making a career of teaching came up, he said, “Dr. Todd Chambers has always said he hopes I get bitten by the ‘teaching bug’ and stick with it for good, but I haven’t been bitten yet, there is no telling what tomorrow brings.” mc
Kelsey Turnipseed is a senior electronic media & communications major from Lubbock, Texas.
Kate Yingling Hector is a May 2012 public relations graduate from Harker Heights, Texas.
Riannon Rowley is a senior electronic media & communications major from El Paso, Texas.
Benjamin Jarvis is a junior electronic media & communications major from McKinney, Texas.