Texas Tech University

Past Banner Bearers

Fall 2020 Saydie French

Saydie French

Saydie French, a public relations and communication studies graduate from Houston, is the College of Media & Communication banner bearer for the Fall 2020 graduation ceremony. 

Although the honor is given for her top academic merit, French believes she owes a lot of her success to her time as an undergraduate research assistant.

“Originally, I came into college and wanted to go into non-profit work,” French said. “Once I got involved with research, I wanted to continue on that route. I really like to learn new things, and I think research is a good way to challenge your preexisting beliefs and learn different things and how they affect real people in the real world. You also have an outlet to learn more about the things you want to learn about.”

French discovered her passions through research, but she also discovered some of her favorite faculty members while working in the college.

“Lisa Low and Trent Seltzer are amazing,” French said. “They were both the kind of professors that really helped me retain the information. Seltzer is a big part of the reason I'm applying to grad school at Tech. I did undergrad research with him, and I'd love to continue working with him. Lisa Low is just a passionate lady. I took a business PR class with her—and I'm not the biggest fan of that subject—but I actually really enjoyed it with her teaching.” 

As the Fall 2020 banner bearer, French can't think of a better way to honor everyone from the college who has helped her achieve such an honor. 

“I wouldn't say this if I didn't believe it because I'm a pretty upfront person, but I feel like this college actually cares about me as a person,” French said. “Coming to Tech, I was kind of worried because it's a big school and I didn't want to be just another number. I wanted to be valued and heard, and I feel like we have some of the best advisors, we have professors who really want us to succeed and do well, and we have professors—like the ones who pulled me into the research—who want to see you be your best self.” 

French finds these relationships truly unique to her time as a student. 

“Overall, you can just tell the faculty of CoMC actually care and want you to be the best version of yourself,” French said. “Talking to my friends, I don't think those are very common things to get out of a college experience. I'm really grateful.”

Out of all her accomplishments as an undergraduate, French says her presentation at the National Communication Association conference in Washington, D.C., stands out in her mind. 

“I presented a study on sexual objectification in female empowerment and how those messages affect women,” French said. “I specifically looked at advertising that feature objectification and empowerment and how women interact with them both or individually, as well as how it makes them feel. It was this big moment where you kind of see what your future looks like, and a lot of the professors in attendance were really cool and came up to me afterwards to tell me I was doing great things and to keep it up.”

Even as French prepares for graduation, her work is far from over—but not without a little breather, first. 

“I applied for grad school, but I applied for next fall,” French said. “I applied to multiple places, so I'm not sure where I'll go, but Tech is definitely an option. Tech has a lot of good things for me, but I feel like I just need to take that one semester off to save some money and gather myself.” 

The College of Media & Communication extends congratulations to French for an amazing honor, as well as to all the Fall graduates. Wreck ‘em, Tech! 

 

Spring 2020 Taylor Plate

Taylor Plate CoMC Banner Bearer Spring 2020Taylor Plate, a senior public relations major from Allen, Texas, has been selected as the College of Media & Communication's banner bearer for the Spring 2020 graduation ceremony. Plate was nominated for her outstanding academic record as an undergraduate student. Due to COVID-19, the upcoming commencement ceremony will be held virtually.

“I'm very excited about this honor,” Plate said. “It's representative of all the hard work I've done and it proves to me that hard work really does pay off in the end.”

Plate is a first-generation college student, and the recognition was also thrilling for her family.

“The honor of banner bearer means so much to me and my dad,” she said. “He was very proud and after I told him of the news, he went and told all his coworkers that very same afternoon.”

After realizing she wanted to change her major, Plate found the perfect fit at CoMC.

“When I first came to Texas Tech, I was in a different major but it wasn't quite right, so I met with a CoMC adviser and she was super-enthusiastic and welcoming,” Plate said. “It was this, along with her attitude and willingness to help, that convinced me to join the college, and once I became a student here, I felt right at home.”

Additionally, Plate has felt supported and encouraged by others in the college.

“The CoMC professors have far exceeded my expectations,” she said. “They are so amazing and supportive, and are willing to help you outside classes. I've never had that before and it made all the difference to know they were there if I needed them.”

Plate was not only busy with the academic side of life. She was also involved with several of the organizations within the college, as well as working with a local non-profit organization off-campus.

Taylor Plate Participating in Adventure Media Bicycling Trip

Photo by Jerod Foster. Taylor was a member of the 2020 Adventure Media course, a program that introduces students to the outdoor recreation and adventure media industry through intense, immersive production experiences while bikepacking in various places in Texas and the Southwest.

“I was a member of Tech PR and also held the treasurer position for the student organization of the Association of Women in Communication, which was an amazing experience,” she said. “The organization started off originally as a very small group, but after lots of hard work, it's now the biggest student chapter of AWC in the nation. We're very proud of that.”

Plate's plan for the future is to work with a non-profit organization, especially one with a focus on benefiting children.

“I've been working with the Lubbock Boys and Girls Club for the past two years, and it's been a wonderful experience,” she said. “I'm looking forward to going out in the world and making a difference with my degree.”

“Thanks to CoMC, I now feel ready to face the world.”

 

Cover image by Jerod Foster. This portrait of Taylor was made in the Clarity Tunnel during the class's annual overnighter along the Caprock Canyons State Park Trailway near Quitaque, Texas. The tunnel is an old rail tunnel cut into the Caprock Escarpment and is now a seasonal home to thousands of Mexican Free-tailed bats.

Saydie French, a public relations and communication studies graduate from Houston, is the College of Media & Communication banner bearer for the Fall 2020 graduation ceremony. 

Although the honor is given for her top academic merit, French believes she owes a lot of her success to her time as an undergraduate research assistant.

“Originally, I came into college and wanted to go into non-profit work,” French said. “Once I got involved with research, I wanted to continue on that route. I really like to learn new things, and I think research is a good way to challenge your preexisting beliefs and learn different things and how they affect real people in the real world. You also have an outlet to learn more about the things you want to learn about.”

French discovered her passions through research, but she also discovered some of her favorite faculty members while working in the college.

“Lisa Low and Trent Seltzer are amazing,” French said. “They were both the kind of professors that really helped me retain the information. Seltzer is a big part of the reason I'm applying to grad school at Tech. I did undergrad research with him, and I'd love to continue working with him. Lisa Low is just a passionate lady. I took a business PR class with her—and I'm not the biggest fan of that subject—but I actually really enjoyed it with her teaching.” 

As the Fall 2020 banner bearer, French can't think of a better way to honor everyone from the college who has helped her achieve such an honor. 

“I wouldn't say this if I didn't believe it because I'm a pretty upfront person, but I feel like this college actually cares about me as a person,” French said. “Coming to Tech, I was kind of worried because it's a big school and I didn't want to be just another number. I wanted to be valued and heard, and I feel like we have some of the best advisors, we have professors who really want us to succeed and do well, and we have professors—like the ones who pulled me into the research—who want to see you be your best self.” 

French finds these relationships truly unique to her time as a student. 

“Overall, you can just tell the faculty of CoMC actually care and want you to be the best version of yourself,” French said. “Talking to my friends, I don't think those are very common things to get out of a college experience. I'm really grateful.”

Out of all her accomplishments as an undergraduate, French says her presentation at the National Communication Association conference in Washington, D.C., stands out in her mind. 

“I presented a study on sexual objectification in female empowerment and how those messages affect women,” French said. “I specifically looked at advertising that feature objectification and empowerment and how women interact with them both or individually, as well as how it makes them feel. It was this big moment where you kind of see what your future looks like, and a lot of the professors in attendance were really cool and came up to me afterwards to tell me I was doing great things and to keep it up.”

Even as French prepares for graduation, her work is far from over—but not without a little breather, first. 

“I applied for grad school, but I applied for next fall,” French said. “I applied to multiple places, so I'm not sure where I'll go, but Tech is definitely an option. Tech has a lot of good things for me, but I feel like I just need to take that one semester off to save some money and gather myself.” 

The College of Media & Communication extends congratulations to French for an amazing honor, as well as to all the Fall graduates. Wreck ‘em, Tech! 

 

Fall 2019 Bailey Johnson

Bailey Johnson

Bailey Johnson has been selected as the college's banner bearer for the Fall 2019 graduation ceremony. Johnson was nominated for her outstanding academic record as an undergraduate student.

A senior advertising major from Happy, Texas, Johnson plans to complete an internship with a Lubbock advertising agency immediately after graduation before going on to explore her options for her next professional step. 

“When I first came to Texas Tech, I was an accounting major since I'd been good at that in high school and it was what I knew,” Johnson said. “But I wasn't happy so, after a week or so, I researched other colleges and really connected with the CoMC adviser who told me about advertising as a major. I immediately switched over and have been loving it since then.”

For the past three years, Johnson has been involved with the Tech Advertising Federation, a student organization on campus, and as part of that group, toured several local advertising agencies in Lubbock. 

“I managed to meet several professionals during the agency tour,” she said. “When I applied for the internships, those same agency people recognized me and helped me get the internship that I'll start after graduation.”  

Johnson is also appreciative of her time at the CoMC. 

“CoMC is a really small and friendly world,” she said. “It's easy to make lots of friends – you just end up seeing some of the same people in different classes and it's way more tight-knit than other communities on campus.” 

Johnson's advice for other students: find ways to connect with other people and join in.

“I think everyone learns better by actually doing the work, and it's so much more effective than just listening to a lecture and reading a textbook,” she said. 

“The CoMC faculty is extremely approachable and invested in your future, for sure. They are not here on campus just to check a box for themselves. They're people who really enjoy teaching their topics and working with students.

“Now I feel ready to apply what I've learned to the real world.”

Spring 2019 Caroline Huey

Caroline Huey

Caroline Huey has been selected as the college's banner bearer for the Spring 2019 graduation ceremony. Huey was nominated for her outstanding academic record and for her exceptional representation of the college through the internships she has held with the university.

A senior journalism major from Rio Rancho, N.M., Huey will graduate with minors in both public relations and sport management, along with the CoMC's certificate in sports media. After graduation, Huey plans to move to Phoenix, Ariz., to work in the sports media industry.

Huey's collegiate career began with a busy freshman year when she began working with Texas Tech Athletics creating video highlights and features on individual student-athletes.

“I started with the Double T Insider as a volunteer,” Huey said. Offered by CoMC through a partnership with Texas Tech Athletics, the Double T Insider offers students the opportunity to produce professional-quality segments which are then used by the Fox Sport networks.

“After a year, I was chosen as the content producer to lead a team of students in creating two or three packages a week for the show,” she said. “In my junior year, I switched to interning with Texas Tech Broadcast Services [also with Athletics] which was another incredible opportunity that allowed me cover and travel with our elite teams.”

“Being able to work with Texas Tech Athletics has helped me become a more well-rounded person in the field of sports media,” she said. “I have spent the past three years doing exactly what I will be doing post-graduation, so I now feel much more confident and prepared to take the next step into the professional world.”

Huey's advice for other students: find ways to gain as much experience as possible during college.

“It is important to get involved, and sometimes that means creating your own opportunities. Find a way to intern or work in the field that you are interested in,” she said. “While the instruction in class is valuable, nothing will replace real-world experience.”

 

Alex Oscarson, Fall 2018

Alex Oscarson

Alex Oscarson has been selected as the college's banner bearer at the Dec. 15 graduation ceremony for her exceptional academic performance. The senior from St. Louis, Missouri, will be graduating with a bachelor's degree in public relations with minors in political science and English.

Oscarson has had a busy year both on and off campus. She started the year as an intern with Sen. John Cornyn's office learning the intricacies of making legislation while absorbing the best ways to network with people in a fast-paced environment.

This political experience led to Oscarson spending her summer months working with the Republican National Committee in the member services section which went on to influence her career goal to work on the legislative process as a staffer with the Senate on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Additionally, Oscarson has plans to add further expertise by earning a master's degree in government affairs.

"CoMC overall taught me how to communicate and to represent myself in a professionally attractive way, and it gave me the skills to succeed," Oscarson said. "The professors have all gone above and beyond to help me have opportunities, and I consider the faculty to be my friends."

 Oscarson's advice to upcoming students: Get involved.

"Join an organization, seek them out, meet new people, and develop your maturity," she said. "Get to know your professors. They can do more than just read PowerPoints, so ask them to help you to do something outside your comfort zone."

"I remember my first day on campus, and now to wrap it all up full circle is great. I am grateful for the welcome I've had here at this college," Oscarson said. "I've always felt at home here and I'm thankful for the education and how it's been presented to me."

 

Alana Krafsur, Spring 2018

Alana KrafsurA passion for communication, sparked by dance.

The Spring 2018 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 art.

"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."

 

Traci Couch, Fall 2017  

Traci Couch and Dean PerlmutterThe highest GPA in the College of Media & Communication, Fall 2017, goes to Traci Couch. The senior from Idalou, Texas is graduating with her Bachelor's degree in Electronic Media and Communications. Couch will be the college's banner bearer at the December 16 graduation ceremony.

Couch was able to learn about media of every form in her time in the College of Media & Communication. "I have learned so much about the topics I am passionate about and it has helped me significantly improve my skills in these areas," Couch reported.

Outside of her studies, Couch was highly involved in extracurricular activities, including Raider Vision, the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, and the Kappa Tau Alpha Honor Society.

"I loved that the CoMC has endless opportunities for students to get involved such as the radio and TV station, Raider Vision, and even multiple faculty-led study abroad trips," said Couch. "I was fortunate to participate in the London study abroad trip led by two TTU professors, and it was one of the best experiences of my life."

Couch will not be leaving Texas Tech after her graduation as she will be continuing on in the college's graduate program. Couch hopes to focus on photography, video production and writing.

Written by Alexa Rosas

 

Nicole Lundberg, Spring 2017

Nicole Lundberg and Dean PerlmutterNicole Lundberg, a public relations and honors arts and letters double major, and the top graduate of the College of Media & Communication in Spring 2017, will represent CoMC as the banner bearer during the May 20 commencement ceremony.

Originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, Lundberg said she chose to pursue a career in public relations because she is passionate about the field.

“I chose to major in public relations because I am passionate about helping people with innovative and important ideas reach the people who need those ideas,” Lundberg said.

During her time as a student, Lundberg worked as the lead student recruiter for the Honors College and a student assistant of research and academic communications at Texas Tech. She was also a member of Texas Tech Mortar Board, the College of Media & Communication Dean's Student Ambassadors, Kappa Tau Alpha, Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Phi Lambda and Ommicron Delta Kappa.

“Traveling to New York for the PRWeek awards when I received honorable mention in the Student of the Year competition was undoubtedly the highlight of my college career,” Lundberg said. “While this was the most exciting moment, I will also always treasure the relationships I formed and experiences I had while serving as a student ambassador.”

In addition to gaining experience in the classroom, Lundberg prepared for her career by interning with Sandia National Laboratories and the Texas Tech Office of the Vice President for Research.

After graduation, Lundberg will work in communication and change management at Willis Towers Watson in Dallas.

Written by Rachel Blevins

 

Laura Gonzalez, Fall 2016

Laura GonzalezLaura Gonzalez, a public relations major and the top graduate of the College of Media & Communication in Fall 2016, will represent CoMC as the banner bearer during the Dec. 17 commencement ceremony.

Gonzalez started her college career as a mechanical engineering major at the University of Texas, and she said she realized she didn't love the path she was taking. The Amarillo, Texas, native then made the leap to Texas Tech and started studying communications.

“Two years ago, I found myself in a whirlwind of burn-out and lacking passion about the current track I was pursuing,” Gonzalez said. “Rather than settle and succumb to mediocrity, I made the decision to take a risk and pursue a different major.”

During her time at Tech, Gonzalez said her experience has been shaped by internships with RD Thomas Advertising, Commonwealth//McCann, and the Multicultural Advertising Intern Program, among others.

“I transferred to Texas Tech determined to learn as much as I could about myself and graduate with meaningful experiences,” Gonzalez said. “Carrying this perspective empowered me to pave my own path and seek internships in public relations and advertising. Through this, I have discovered I am most fulfilled when I am in a position to lead, inspire and motivate others.”

In addition to being the first in her family to attend college, Gonzalez said she wants to continue to strive to be a leader as she pursues her career.

“I want to be leading the frontier of client relations as an account manager at an advertising agency,” Gonzalez said. “The industry is constantly evolving, forcing a person to continually seek emerging trends and become a student of the world. I am drawn by the intricacy being an account manager entails and am enamored by the challenge, integrity and business knowledge a person must gain to be an extraordinary puppeteer between managing and leading different departments forward to best meet client demands.”

Gonzalez said that after gaining five years of industry experience, she intends to apply to the Stanford Graduate School of Business to earn a Master of Business Administration degree.

“I want to commit my life after graduating from Texas Tech University to view the world without boundaries, gain extraordinary experiences, and become a CEO of a Fortune 500 company one day,” Gonzalez said.

Written by Rachel Blevins

 

Matthew Sirgo, Summer 2016

Matthew SirgoMatthew Sirgo, a media strategies and honors arts and letters double major with a minor in Italian and the top graduate from the College of Media & Communication in Summer 2016, will represent CoMC as the banner bearer during the Aug. 13 commencement ceremony.

Originally from Midland, Texas, Sirgo said he chose Texas Tech because out of all of his options, he saw it as the university that offered the greatest opportunities.

“From the President's Scholarship and the Honors College to research opportunities in CoMC, Texas Tech has opened so many areas of knowledge to me,” Sirgo said. “I feel really prepared for wherever life takes me.”

During his time as an undergraduate student, Sirgo said he assisted with research projects for public relations professor Andy King and electronic media professor Justin Keene and used labs within CoMC to conduct primary research for his Honors thesis.

Sirgo was a member of the Honors College Book Club and the Italian Club. He also studied abroad in Italy in Summer 2015 and tutored students in first-year Italian courses in Fall 2015.

Sirgo said his favorite tradition at Texas Tech is joining in the “Raider Power” chant at football games, and his favorite campus pastime is seeing guest speakers such as award-winning journalist Cokie Roberts.

“I'm looking to work for a PR firm or ad agency in the Austin or San Antonio areas,” Sirgo said. “I'd really like to be able to be an ambassador for the cultures and companies of those regions. There so much great innovation being done in those cities.”

Written by Rachel Blevins

 

Colby Ward, Spring 2016

Colby WardColby Ward, an electronic media & communication and English double major from Saint Jo, Texas, and the top graduate from the College of Media & Communication in Spring 2016, will represent CoMC as the banner bearer during the May 21 commencement ceremony.

During his time as an undergraduate student, Ward was a member of the Texas Tech Honors College and interned with KTTZ: Texas Tech Public Media. He was also a member of the honor societies Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Tau Delta.

Ward said he chose to attend Texas Tech after he toured the university with a friend and was impressed by the huge campus and the active student life.

“My favorite pastime is probably playing racquetball at the Rec Center with my friends,” Ward said. “I had never played before coming here, but now it's one of my favorite things to do.”

Ward said he started as an English major and decided to add electronic media & communication as a second major, with the hope that it would lead to a job that combined writing and the media.

“I want to move to a more media-oriented city, like Dallas or even New York or LA,” Ward said. “There are so many opportunities in those places for a media major like me, and I feel like that's where I need to be to get started. My dream job is to write for television, so if I could get my foot in the door for a career like that, I would be so happy.”

Written by Rachel Blevins

 

Emily Gardner, Fall 2015

Emily GardnerEmily Gardner, a public relations major from Houston and the top graduate from the College of Media & Communication in December 2015, will represent CoMC as the banner bearer during the Dec. 12 commencement ceremony.

Gardner said she chose to attend Texas Tech because she loved the programs offered by the Honors College, was encouraged by an opportunity to gain real world experience by majoring in the College of Media & Communication, and loved the spirit of the university as a whole.

“I first came to visit Texas Tech during Homecoming,” Gardner said. “I fell in love with the spirit of the school, and I loved the Media & Communication program and the fact that I could get so much real-world experience as part of it.”

During her time as an undergraduate student, Gardner was a member of the Texas Tech Honors College and interned with the Texas Tech Office of Communications & Marketing. She held various positions at the Daily Toreador, such as news reporter, copy editor and summer managing editor. And she was a member of the advisory board for Define Your Line, a student-led campaign promoting healthy sexual communication.

Gardner said her favorite memory from her time at Texas Tech was participating in CoMC's Study Aboard program in London in May 2013.

“I've always wanted to go to London,” Gardner said. “I met some of my closest friends through the trip. We got to experience the city, and it was amazing.”

After she graduates, Gardner said she hopes to earn her master's degree at some point. For now, she said she is looking for a job in the field of public relations that will give her an opportunity to write.

Written by Rachel Blevins

 

Learn about the most recent banner bearer.