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Communication Studies Hosts “Diversity & Inclusion” Events

The Department of Communication Studies hosted three spring semester faculty-led events in an ongoing series that focuses upon taking action to advance and sustain Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

The event, entitled, “After Diversity: Notes on Language, Identity, and Politics,” featured topics such as: Equity and inclusion, privilege vs. power, the failure to act, social justice as a pillar for learning, and operationalizing advocacy. Faculty and students were also invited to engage in discussion to reflect on their own teaching practices to determine their commitment to diversity and inclusion in the classroom and providing mentoring for marginalized students.

The event featured two guest speakers, M.A. alum Goyland Williams and Dillon Nettles.

Goyland Williams is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Communication at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst where he is a R.E.A.L Fellow (Research Enhancement And Leadership Fellowship) and a recipient of the W.E.B. Du Bois Graduate Fellowship at the Du Bois Center. Specializing in Rhetoric and Performance Studies, his research is situated in Black studies, social movement rhetoric, Africana critical theory, cultural criticism and performance theory|(auto)ethnography. Bridging these seemingly disparate ideas and schools of thought, 

Dillon Nettles is a Deep Southerner organizer, policy strategist, and legislative analyst based in Montgomery, Alabama, currently serving as Policy & Advocacy Director of the ACLU of Alabama. In this role he manages the ACLU’s policy and advocacy staff, legislative portfolio, campaigns, and policy initiatives, in addition to conducting routine engagement with state lawmakers and other public officials. Dillon has been recognized as a Clinton Global Initiative alumnus, New Profit Millennial Impact Fellow, and Digital Leaders Fellow by Students for Education Reform. 

The next step for the department will be to take action by applying principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion in ways that can initiate sustainable change in our department and community.  Our first step will be to engage in a comprehensive review of literature to understand how our commitment to DEI principles can best inform our approach to teaching and learning in the Communication Studies discipline.  A first applied workshop facilitated by Dr. Josh Miller, Dr. Michael Burns, and Mr. Mark Paz shared a framework to coordinate faculty efforts identify and share DEI concepts that emerge from communication theory and research.  All faculty will then participate in presentations to summarize and illustrate literature how these ideas can become a consistent theme that is reflected in our core courses and frequently-completed electives  (i.e., Interpersonal Communication; Public Speaking, Small Group Communication, Organizational Communication, Health Communication).  These presentations will begin in May and then culminate in a day-length 

TEDx 2021 Talks are Now Available

The talks from the fifth annual TEDx Texas State University conference are now available to view on the official TEDx YouTube channel. This year’s virtual event focused on the theme: AMPLIFY. The TEDx Team recognized that this last year has been filled with lots of noise and unfortunately, through all the noise, some ideas and voices are not heard. The goal of this year’s TEDx was to AMPLIFY these voices. The 2021 speakers came from diverse backgrounds and are people who are driven to create change, solve problems, and question current standards. Their talks represented a variety of fields and perspectives including technology, health, the arts, media, social science, the humanities, and the hard sciences.

Melodie Graves – “The Power of the Amplified Voice”

Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez – “Why Can’t Government Be More Like Us?”

Shailen Singh: “Parenting a Disabled Child: Nurturing Self-Worth”

Qy’Darrius McEachern – “Performative Activism’s Issues”

Marcus Peoples – “Proud to Be In Between: Why Identity is a Superpower”

Sean Huiet – Adoption and Difference: Our Family’s Story”

Jenni Johnson – “Making Digital Room for the Neurodivergent in Classes”

Career Readiness Program Hosts Virtual Events

Career Readiness Program

The Career Readiness Program, led by Dr. Michael Burns, hosted several events during the fall semester, all featuring Texas State Alumni. For more information on the Career Readiness Program, click here.

The first Career Readiness event of the semester focused on Financial Health and was led by M.A. alum Patrick HalePatrick has worked as an instructional designer and program manager at CPS Energy. He is currently serving as the Power Generation Training Manager. He is passionate helping people reach their full potential in their career and achieve their personal aspirations.

The Alumni Mentor Networking Event was the final event of the semester. This event featured alumni meeting and talking with students to help them understand what is possible post-graduation with a degree in Communication Studies. The event featured alums Brad Palmisano, Renee Rudloff-Baker, Jonathan Alba, Taela Bragg, Patrick Hale, Victoria Locke, Joey Kuykendall, Trevlyn Trevino Carson, Shanna Schultz, Tianna Cobb, Adeyinka Yarbough, Rob Patterson, Kuro Tawil, Susan Cunningham, Christine Kirsch, and Angel Armijo.

M.A. Students Complete Unique Internship

Two M.A. students, Riki Van Meter and Daniel Galindo, successfully completed their internship experience with Austin-based public health and safety firm Code 4 Emergency Services. Dr. Michael Burns and M.A. alumnus and Code 4 Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Alba created the partnership through the Communication Studies Career Readiness program. Riki and Daniel started the internship in January 2021.

Riki and Daniel have gotten a rare and unique glimpse into working for a rapidly-growing startup. Code 4 established itself as a powerhouse in event management and safety before the pandemic forced them to adapt. They founded their biohazard division in the Spring of 2020 and began offering testing, decontamination services, and eventually vaccination operations for the local community.

Riki and Daniel have leveraged their communication background assisting with operations, marketing, PR, and other communication-based projects. Riki and Daniel were granted rare access and collaboration opportunities with the organization. They drafted social media posts, job postings, and internal documents alongside Jonathan Alba and CEO Scott Davidson. Riki and Daniel also have helped organize and execute various operations themselves. On one occasion, Riki coordinated an impromptu vaccination clinic for patients who missed their original appointment for their second dose. Daniel was trained as a decontamination technician within the biohazard division and has helped mitigate the spread of COVID-19 working on several film production sets.

Riki and Daniel’s diverse experiences with Code 4 have proven invaluable for their personal and professional development. Rarely do interns get the access and opportunity to work so closely with executives responding to a global pandemic. Riki plans to remain with the company full-time and expand her career in public health and safety. Daniel continues to assist as a biohazard technician and aspires to get into training and development post-graduation.

CSGA Holds Professional Development Events

The Communication Studies Graduate Association (CSGA) is a departmental organization dedicated to unifying the graduate students in Communication Studies at Texas State. CSGA members come together for official and unofficial events including professional development, research seminars, social and philanthropic events.

The first event was entitled "Jumpstarting Your Career with Your Master’s in Communication Studies" and featured two guest presenters: Natalie Nelson and Marsha Burney. Natalie Nelson is a Diversity Initiatives Coordinator and Communication Studies Instructor at the College of Southern Nevada. Marsha Burney is a graduate of our MA program and former faculty member who is now a Senior Consultant/Workforce Management Business Partner at CGI Federal.

The second event was called "So You Want a PhD?". Five panelists provided students with advice about deciding if attending a Ph.D. program is right for them. Dr. Hilary Rasmussen is an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Dr. Megan Orcholski recently completed her dissertation at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Dr. Terra Rasmussen Lenox is a faculty member of communication at Lake Michigan College, Lauren Johnsen is an instructor at the University of Memphis, and Bailey Benedict is a doctoral candidate at Purdue University.

Faculty Accolades

Jasmine Austin HSS Poster

Jasmine Austin was a Texas State University Translational Health Scholar Showcase Poster Presenter. Her poster was entitled: "Implementing care into pre-entry conversations with Black women graduate students to better support their mental health needs". Jasmine worked with M.A. student Andronica Owens to organize the written materials for the Texas State University “Tunnel of Oppression”. 

Tricia Burke presented “An Exploratory Study of Communicative Resilience in Parental Caregivers of Children with Medically Complex Conditions (MCCs)” at the Health Scholar Showcase at Texas State University. The project was co-authored with Kristen Farris, Shailen Singh (OWLS), and Katie Warber (Wittenberg University). In addition, thirteen guest scholars were interviewed for Tricia’s graduate seminar in Relational Health Communication, including Kristen FarrisMaureen KeeleyMelinda Villagran, and other top relational health communication scholars.

Michael Burns was invited to work his 6th Olympic Games with NBC's Today Show. Michael will join the Today Show at the Tokyo 2021 Olympics this summer on their production management and logistics team, helping to lead a group of production runners who will ensure a successful broadcast. His team helps with production needs such as initial set up, story research, production and talent/guest transportation, and teardown.

Stephanie Dailey’s paper, "Social comparisons, social media addiction, and social interaction: An examination of specific social media behaviors related to major depressive disorder in a millennial population" was recognized as a "top cited article 2019-2020" in the Journal of Applied Biobehavioral Research.

Kristen Farris Translational Health Poster

Kristen Farris published a book chapter entitled "Student perceptions of instructor communication amid class disruption: Lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic" in COVID and Higher Education: Teaching and Learning from Lexington Books. It is co-authored by M.A. student Luke Dye and Communication Studies faculty members Marian Houser and Erik Timmerman. Kristen also presented "An Exploratory Study of Communicative Resilience in Parental Caregivers of Children with Medically Complex Conditions" with Tricia Burke, Shailen Singh, and Katie Warber at the 5th Annual Texas State University Health Scholar Showcase through the Translational Health Research Center. Kristen also welcomed guest speakers Dr. Jasmine Austin and Dr. Marian Houser to her graduate Instructional Communication seminar about prepare to analyze qualitative data collected from student focus groups and scholarship related to the topic of “helicopter teaching”.

Rebekah Fox was promoted from Associate Professor to full Professor.

Josh Miller published Coalitional fronting and shared ethos cultivation in the case of the Council on Religion and the Homosexual in Women's Studies in Communication.

Student Accolades

Tunnel of Oppression Flyer

Undergraduate student Isi Imoisi successfully landed a competitive paid internship with IBM as a Content Designer. She will work and learn with two other interns for three months over the summer.

M.A. student Andronica Owens worked with Dr. Jasmine Austin to organize the written materials for the Texas State University “Tunnel of Oppression”. The Tunnel of Oppression is an interactive program put on by multiple colleges and universities across the country. The experience is meant to place focus on issues related to diversity, while disrupting the stereotypes and frameworks that perpetuate them in society. Student and faculty contributors from the Department of Communication Studies included: Tyshee SonnierSidney MurrayMiguel PorfirioMaya EdwinMaya BlitchMary Katie TigertMadeleine MartinsonJovana AnjdelkovicJohnny VasalloJoel Brantley- GearhartJake CrandallEmily CountsCassandra ChapaAndronica Owens Alley HenriciLeela SchoolerBruce TaylorGrace MortonIfeoluwatobi OdunsiCurtis GoinsDr. Josh MillerDr. Elizabeth K. EgerDr. Cassandra LeClair, and Dr. Jasmine Austin.

Alumni Accolades

Kaitlyn Kirkhart
Kaitlyn Kirkhart

Patrick Hale (M.A., 2012) led a Financial Health virtual workshop for the Communication Studies Career Readiness Students. He has worked as an instructional designer and program manager at CPS Energy in San Antonio and currently serves as the Power Generation Training Manager. He is passionate helping people reach their full potential in their career and achieve their personal aspirations.

Kory Kelly (M.A., 2015) enjoyed a stint as a public analyst at Quantified Communications where he contributed to coaching for F100 CEOs at Facebook, Ford, Target, and many more. Quickly after, he tested his entrepreneurial chops by starting two trade organizations for F500 brand leaders across the US in marketing and CSR both totally $4M of annual revenue. Today, Kory is busy building his first software company, Legal Karma, that is disrupting the way law firms interact with clients across the U.S. “Huge changes are coming to the legal industry as 80% of Americans can’t afford access to justice. At Legal Karma, we’re tapping into that need by automating and productizing legal services to pull the complexities of law down for anyone to understand. I never saw myself as an entrepreneur… but the skills I learned in Comm Studies separate me from every MBA I’ve met during a pitch competition. If I could talk to myself in 2014 when I started my master’s in Comm Studies, I’d tell myself to do it again.”

Kaitlyn Kirkhart (B.A., 2016) announced that her firm, BaCo Tech, patented a workflow technology called, “Accounting Platform Functionalities.”  Ms. Kirkhart has been with the firm throughout the development and patenting process and plays a critical role in assuring effective internal and external communications.  To read more about BaCo Tech and Ms. Kirkhart, see a recent Alumni Impact article published by the Texas State University Newsroom, “Alumna helps CPAs and clients come together during COVID-19 pandemic.”  To learn more about the BaCo Tech patent, see Kaitlyn’s press release in business wire, "Dallas Tech Startup, BaCo Tech, Receives US Patent for CPA Firm Transaction-Based Workflow.