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Happy Birthday To…

… the blog! Happy birthday to the blog! Happy birthday dear bloooo-ooog! Happy birthday to the blog!

Happy Birthday Blog!

That’s right! One year ago today I started writing this blog! To celebrate, I will be eating red velvet cake today. But just a cupcake. Not the Costco sized red velvet cake of a few weeks ago. Sigh… And also to celebrate, I thought I would give you a by-the-numbers account of what we have done on the blog in the past year.

In the past year, I have posted 182 entries on the blog! Including…

  • 19 Alumni Spotlights
  • 28 Student Shout-Outs
  • 19 Internship Ideas
  • 19 A Day in the Life
  • 19 Student Chronicles
  • 15 Dons’ Doings
  • 8 Academic Trivia
  • 8 Club Ed
  • 7 Red Alerts
  • 5 Faculty Feats
  • 4 Class Notes
  • 4 Plan As
  • 4 The Expert Files
  • 6 Miscellaneous Chatters
  • 17 94 Days of Summer
In the past year, we have gotten 205 comments on the blog. And about 1 trillion spam comments.

I’m still enjoying it just as much as I did when I started a year ago, and am continuing to come up with new ideas for it! After all, our students, alums, and faculty, are continuing to do great things! I hope that you will continue to read and we have many more birthdays in the future!  

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Speaking of… Applying for Lambda Pi Eta Chapter of the Year!

We are excited today to let you know that our chapter of Lambda Pi Eta, the Kappa Iota chapter, is applying for the Chapter of the Year Award from the National Communication Association! We wanted to share our application with you here.

Lambda Pi Eta’s history at the University of San Francisco (USF) started with a dedicated group of Communication Studies students in 2000. However, as is the unfortunate case for many organizations, membership declined in the Kappa Iota (KI) chapter as most of the members graduated that year. After a few years with only a handful of members being inducted and no activities taking place, the chapter was revived in 2004 under the leadership of co-advisors Dr. Eve-Anne Doohan and Dr. Evelyn Ho. Along with only three members (our president, vice-president, and treasurer), we inducted 21 new members the following year and established the foundation for what is now a thriving organization that has served as a model on campus for what a successful student organization can be.

Since 2004, the Kappa Iota chapter has created and institutionalized a variety of events open to Lambda Pi Eta members, all Communication Studies students, and the larger USF community. With roughly 250 majors and a full-time faculty of  seven members, much of the community-building and cross-curricular activity in the department can be directly credited to the activities of the Kappa Iota chapter of Lambda Pi Eta. For example, many communication departments struggle with how to help students develop possible career paths. The Kappa Iota chapter began an annual “Career Night” that takes place every fall, where a panel of six recent Communication Studies graduates return to campus to discuss their current positions and give advice about the job search process. This is a popular and well-attended event in our department. Not only are students able to connect (or reconnect) with graduates, but they also hear advice from the panelists about opportunities to take advantage of prior to graduation. Over the years, this event has provided our students with many examples of the types of professions our majors work in. Our alumni panelists bring their business cards and often make networking connections with our current students.

We have our 4th annual Career Night planned for November 3, 2011

Since 2004, the Kappa Iota chapter has created and institutionalized a variety of events open to Lambda Pi Eta members, all Communication Studies students, and the larger USF community. With roughly 250 majors and a full-time faculty of  seven members, much of the community-building and cross-curricular activity in the department can be directly credited to the activities of the Kappa Iota chapter of Lambda Pi Eta. For example, many communication departments struggle with how to help students develop possible career paths. The Kappa Iota chapter began an annual “Career Night” that takes place every fall, where a panel of six recent Communication Studies graduates return to campus to discuss their current positions and give advice about the job search process. This is a popular and well-attended event in our department. Not only are students able to connect (or reconnect) with graduates, but they also hear advice from the panelists about opportunities to take advantage of prior to graduation. Over the years, this event has provided our students with many examples of the types of professions our majors work in. Our alumni panelists bring their business cards and often make networking connections with our current students.

Last year's Pizza with the Pros was a great success!

You can read more about last year’s Pizza with the Pros event here: http://blogs.usfca.edu/coms/2011/03/29/dons-doings-pizza-with-the-pros-thurs-331/

Another way in which our chapter fosters professional development and provides an opportunity to discuss ideas is with our annual “Alumni Speaker Night” event in which a USF Communication Studies alum is invited back to speak to current students about how they use their education in their current careers. We have invited back public relations professionals, administrators in education, advertising account managers, sports management professionals, and more! In the most recent event in Spring 2011, we were able to invite back Kappa Iota alum, Amanda Anderson, who is now working successfully as a recruiter for a local hiring agency. Not only did she tell us about her career, but she was also able to tell us what it takes to be hired in the tough current economy. Amanda was also able to hand out her business card and talk to some of our soon-to-be graduates to discuss what opportunities she had currently available. Many of her comments centered around taking advantage of the many opportunities that our chapter of Lambda Pi Eta provides for our students, including making connections with faculty members and alumni.

2011 Alumni Speaker and Kappa Iota member Amanda Anderson

You can read more about last year’ Alumni Speaker here: http://blogs.usfca.edu/coms/2011/04/14/dons-doings-alumni-speaker-night-and-lph-graduation-celebration-monday-418/

One of the Kappa Iota chapter’s greatest successes have been in building a department community that fosters close relationships between faculty members and students. At USF, we have grown to be one of the largest Arts & Sciences majors at an otherwise small campus in which most of of our students work outside of school. Before our chapter of Lambda Pi Eta began, students took many of their classes together but rarely knew one another outside of class. To fix that and to help socialize all our new students whether they join Lambda Pi Eta or not, we developed a mentorship program that has been touted by our previous Dean as an excellent mentoring model. We begin each year with the KI officers taking part in the faculty “Orientation to the Major” event where new students are introduced to the Communication Studies faculty and curriculum as well as Lambda Pi Eta. This year, 34 incoming students (a majority of our new students), asked to be assigned a Lambda Pi Eta mentor and be a part of our mentorship program. This program offers an opportunity for new students to talk with existing Lambda Pi Eta members in order to provide a sense of community and guidance through their time here at USF. The Lambda Pi Eta members enjoy being able to help welcome new students to the department and the new students like that they are personally connected with a student in their major from the start of their academic career. We have many transfer students in our department, and we match new transfer students with senior transfer students. From small pieces of advice such as “where is the best place to park if I’m commuting” to much more serious questions like, “how do I get an internship,” students report back that their mentors have been helpful in their transition to USF. Mentors personally invite their mentees to department events and some meet their mentees for coffee on campus midway through the semester. It has been a wonderful way to foster connections between our more senior students and our new students.

Another popular event instituted by our Kappa Iota chapter is a fundraiser held at a local restaurant every semester. This is an event that allows faculty and students to interact outside of the classroom. Students bring roommates, friends, and significant others, and faculty bring family members for an evening of food and socializing. The event is so popular that we have many alumni attend, frequently contacting the faculty advisors for information so they do not miss it!

COMS department members at one of our Chevy's Night Fundraisers

Here at USF, building community does not just mean working with one another as students, faculty, and staff. It also means engaging in the larger San Francisco community. Each year, Kappa Iota sponsors a team for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk. Members, professors, family members, friends, roommates and dogs, all brave the usually rainy, always foggy morning to take part in the 5K walk and raise money for breast cancer research and awareness. In addition, our chapter has participated in food drives and hosted at-risk local children at USF to consider college. This year, we are organizing our first “Lambda Pi Eta Pie Day” and we plan to donate part of our proceeds from the fundraiser to a San Francisco nonprofit service organization. But the event is more than just a good fundraiser. Imagine Aristotle in the central quads of universities across the U.S. calling out to students “All humans by nature desire knowledge… and pie!” Lambda Pi Eta chapter members exchanging pie for small sums of cash, and satisfied students chanting back in glee, “I ate a Pie with Lambda Pi Eta!” We would like to share our idea with other chapters in hopes that Pie Day becomes a signature event across many other chapters. In this way, we hope to further foster the national Lambda Pi Eta community.

Pie posters courtesy of Kappa Iota President An Mai!

If your LPH chapter would like to use these posters for your Pie Day event, let us know!

Are you going to eat a pie with Lambda Pi Eta?

Our Kappa Iota chapter also sponsors an annual “Graduate School Information Night” where a panel of faculty discuss graduate school opportunities in Communication Studies and related fields. We also invite alumni who are currently in, or successfully completed, graduate school to share their experiences. We found that many of our students are interested in graduate school but did not know a lot about what it entails and what they should know before applying. In fact, one of the most common reactions to our Grad School Night is, “Wow! I had no idea that some graduate programs will give you a stipend to attend!” This has been a popular annual event for not only our department, but many students even outside the major attend to get their graduate school questions answered. We have had numerous students go on (and receive scholarships, TA-ships and fellowships) to enroll in graduation programs in Communication Studies, Law School, Public Health, Marriage and Family Therapy, Speech & Hearing Sciences, Education and more.

We'll be having another Graduate School Information Night this spring!

Many of our members have also been provided with unique academic opportunities that are supported by our chapter. Each year, several Communication Studies majors take part in the Bay Area Undergraduate Research Conference, a conference that gathers undergraduates from many universities along the west coast together to share research about communication. We have also had members and students present at NCA, WSCA, and other regional conferences such as the Hayward Rhetorical Criticism Conference and the Continuums of Service Conference. Many of our Lambda Pi Eta members, due to their high academic achievement and close relationships with faculty members, have served as research assistants and teaching assistants in our department. For example, two of our past Lambda Pi Eta officers, Emma Gallagher and Lauren Jacobson, served as research assistants for a faculty member’s project on family communication about finances. Our current chapter president works as a teaching assistant for our Communication and Culture course. And our first president, Anne Stone, is now a tenure-track Communication Studies professor at Portland State University. The leadership experience of working as a Lambda Pi Eta board member, along with the various programs and educational events sponsored by our chapter serve as unique opportunities that give students insight into the teaching and research process.

You can read more about the Bay Area Research Conference here: http://blogs.usfca.edu/coms/2011/06/22/student-shout-out-coms-majors-at-the-bay-area-undergrad-research-conference/

Kappa Iota members provide clear leadership for active engagement in our department. Three years ago, the officers of the Kappa Iota chapter decided to institute a policy that “active members” would receive free honor cords upon graduation from our Lambda Pi Eta chapter. We defined active membership as attending at least 50% of all of the activities we sponsor each year. We’re happy to report that we have a 90-95% active membership list! Being in Lambda Pi Eta at USF is more than just adding a line to your resume. It means actively engaging in the intellectual community of the department and the larger discipline, working with our larger community outside the university, and developing professional skills and contacts to successfully enter the job market. We’re very proud of what our chapter has accomplished and are excited about what more we can do in the future. We have gone from inducted three members in 2004 to inducting, on average, almost 20 new members every year, and our membership roster has grown to almost 150 students. Students often comment that the Communication Studies Department is one of the most active departments on campus that provides so many opportunities for majors. The Kappa Iota chapter is responsible for these academic, social, professional, and community service events.  Because of our outstanding record of fostering an interest in Communication Studies among our students and alumni, we believe we are deserving of the 2011 Lambda Pi Eta Chapter of the Year Award.

Some of our 2011 Lambda Pi Eta graduates!

Congratulations to our newly inducted members!

Some of our new Lambda Pi Eta members holding our fancy banner.

A special thanks to our current chapter officers: An Mai, President, Cayden Berkmoyer, Vice President, and Jamey Padojino, Treasurer/Secretary, for their help putting our application together. Wish us luck with our application!

Are you a member of Lambda Pi Eta or a student who has attended one of our events? Comment back and share your favorite experiences!

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Welcome to the Communication Studies Department!

We in the Communication Studies Department are so happy to welcome our new first year and transfer students to the major and to USF! We hope that you find your time here to be rewarding and that you take advantage of the many opportunities in the department and at USF.

We met most of our 69 new students yesterday at the Orientation to the Major session. Check out the pictures below of our new students and the faculty:

Don’t our new students look smart? And doesn’t it look like the faculty talked a lot? (We did). We gave an overview of our major, talked about special opportunities, such as research assistantships, teaching assistantships, and internships, and, of course, talked about our social media as a way to learn about the department and connect with other students and alums. I know I am a bit biased, but I think we have a wonderful community here in our major and I hope that you, new students, feel part of it and at home here.

Special thanks to the Lambda Pi Eta officers, President An Mai, Vice President Cayden Berkmoyer, and Secretary/Treasurer Jamey Padojino for joining us to talk about Lambda Pi Eta, the mentorship program, and internships. A shout-out to GO Team Leader, Communication Studies major, and LPH member Alyssa Micciche for attending the session as well!

Welcome to USF and to the Communication Studies Department! Any advice for our new students? Comment back!

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Drum roll please… the USF flashmob video is here!

Drum roll please!  Are you doing it?  Do you hear it?  I hope so because the announcement I am about to make absolutely deserves a drum roll.  THE UNIVERSITY OF SAN FRANCISCO FLASHMOB VIDEO IS HERE!

In case you haven’t heard, a group of USF students, faculty, and staff, led by Professor Amie Dowling, Coordinator of the USF Dance Program, and Natalie Greene, instructor and choreographer, recently performed a flashmob, not once, not twice, not even three times, but four times, on campus and in downtown San Francisco!

For those of you in the dark who don’t know what a flashmob is, it is when a group of seemingly unrelated people come together to perform a previously arranged and choreographed dance (or other activity), and then quickly disperse.  The essence of a flashmob is that it seems to come out of nowhere and ends just as quickly.  It is, in a word, AWESOME!

Special thanks to Laura Waldron and everyone from USFtv who put together the video.  Check it out below:

Several Communication Studies students were involved: Natasha Bojkovic (who is also a dance minor and was in charge of teaching the routine to the women’s volleyball team), Tess Parsons, Jessy Mekpoh, and Megan Conner (who participated as a member of the women’s soccer team).  And of course you must have guessed that I was also in it (I had so much fun doing it you might have seen me doing the choreography as I walked down the hallway several days before and after)!  We performed on Lone Mountain, Harney Plaza, the Powell Street Cable Car Turnaround, and Union Square. Students, faculty, and staff from across the university were involved, including the intergenerational dance group, the Dance Generators, the volleyball team, women’s soccer team, members of pubic safety, and the star of the show, a uniformed public safety officer!  It was so much fun and a great way to showcase the USF community!

Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard to pull this off!  As Tess said to me after we completed the dance, “We can cross this off of our bucket list!”  Oh yes we can.

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Speaking of… Welcoming our new students to the major

All of the faculty would like to welcome the new students who are joining us this semester as new Communication Studies majors.  Welcome to USF and the Communication Studies Department!  We are happy you are joining us here and hope that you find your time here to be enjoyable and enriching.

We have twelve new students joining us in the department this semester.  We (the faculty) spent the afternoon meeting them at the Orientation to the Major session.  Check out the picture below (doesn’t it bring back memories of elementary school picture day?):

Spring 2011 new Communication Studies majors

Don’t our new students look smart?

Thanks to senior Lambda Pi Eta President Emma Gallagher and senior LPH member Marissa Swiech for joining us at the Orientation to the Major to talk about Lambda Pi Eta and other ways to get involved in our department.  Also, a “Shout-Out” to alum Jamal Pinkney who is in the Arts and Sciences welcome video that is shown to all new students… Hi Jamal!  (He reads the blog).

Please join us in welcoming our new students to the major (and check out the action shots of some of our profs below, courtesy of photographer Emma Gallagher).  Any students who have been here for awhile (or alums) have advice for our new students?  Comment back!

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Speaking of… The USF Connect Featured Photo

When I first started this blog, I decided that I would never post twice in one day.  But today I must break this self-imposed rule.  Because December 6, 2010 is one for the record books.  Why, you ask?  Because after years of trying, a photo I submitted has been selected as the USF Connect Featured Photo!  The USF Featured Photo has been my Everest.  You know what I mean… some people dream of scaling the world’s tallest peak, some dream of winning a Grammy, others dream of finishing a marathon.   Me?  I have wanted to have a picture chosen as the USF Featured Photo.  And today it happened!

Here is my acceptance speech (don’t start playing the music yet!): I would like to thank Ed Carpenter, USF News Writer/Editor, for selecting my picture.  My students, Ian, Michael, Abbey, and Lauren, as well as Ian’s friend, Tyler, for appearing in the picture.  And my husband, Kevin, for taking the picture.  I have dreamed of this day for a long time, and it is everything that I thought it would be!  (Seriously… I startled Professor Thorson when I went running down the hall in excitement!).

I am going to take this opportunity to post the award-winning picture here (okay, yes, I know that I didn’t actually win an award…):

USF Connect Featured Photo Winner* (*no award was actually won)

I’m also going to post pictures from our most recent Communication Studies Game Day, that happened yesterday at the women’s basketball game.  Our Dons didn’t win, but we had a great time cheering them on, and I hope to see more of you at our Game Days when they return in the spring semester! 

Me, Professor Thorson, Emma Gallagher, and Lauren Jacobson at the 3rd Communication Studies Game Day, Lady Dons Basketball vs. UCSB

Emma and Lauren with The Don

Everyone visit the USF Connect login page so you can see our picture in all of its glory!

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Speaking of… Thanksgiving

I had intended to write my first “Academic Trivia” post today, but I couldn’t let the holiday go by without addressing it.  So indulge me for a moment (or three, as this post turned out longer than I planned).  When I was in pre-school, my class did a project for Thanksgiving.  We cut up strips of colored construction paper and on them we had to write what we were thankful for.  We took some blank strips of paper home and had our family members write on them too.  We then taped the strips of paper together in loops to form the “Thanksgiving Chain.”  My mom liked the idea so much that we did it every year growing up.  (Incidentally, Family Communication alums could tell you what type of family ritual this is… any takers?).  Some years I would cut way too many pieces of paper so that by the end, everyone had to get really creative (like “I am thankful for French Fries” …wait, who I am kidding?  French Fries are always near the top of my list).  In any case, I share this story because I think all of us (students and professors alike) feel stressed at this time of the year.  Because as all of you know, we have Thanksgiving and come back to deadlines for papers, presentations, and exams (I know this because I am responsible for imposing many of those deadlines!).  In short, it can be a difficult time of the year.  However, two things that always make my Thanksgiving Chain are my students and USF.  There is really no other job I would rather have (except to maybe be one of those people who tests out the amenities at luxury hotels… how do you get that job?).  And, I really think we are all quite lucky to be here.  Spoiler Alert:  At graduation, Fr. Privett will talk about how only 1% of the world’s population has a college education (I found another source today that said up to 6%, but I am going to defer to our University President on this one).  My point is that although for us it is a busy, stressful time of the year, I think we should also acknowledge that we are in a pretty great situation.  You, as students, are entering a very small group of people who have a college education, which I think is something to be very thankful for.  That, and “Glee.”  I admit it, on the top of my chain this year, after husband, family, home, students, and USF, would be “Glee.”  (My husband asked me last night if I realize that I am not actually on the show).  Now, I know most of you have probably reached your holiday destination, but if you are stuck in lines at the airport or in a car (as long as you’re not driving), comment back on something that you are thankful for.  It can be an electronic Thanksgiving Chain.  I hope you enjoy the holiday with your family and friends (or teammates… Go Dons!).