SoC faculty that participated in the NCA 108th Annual Convention: Honoring PLACE: People, Liberation, Advocacy, Community, and Environment

This year a number of our faculty members participated in the National Communication Association’s 108th Annual Convention: Honoring PLACE: People, Liberation, Advocacy, Community, and Environment. This year’s convention took place in New Orleans, Louisiana. Below we have listed the SoC faculty members and their participation in the convention. 

Corey Anton: 

Role: Presenter A Roundtable Discussion of Surfing the Anthropocene: Digital Affect and the Big Tension


Valerie Peterson: 

Role: Presenter A Roundtable Discussion of Surfing the Anthropocene: Digital Affect and the Big Tension


Richard D. Besel:

Role: Chair and Respondent Mediating Environmental Communication


Carl Brown:

Role: Presenter Communication Centers Section Business Meeting

Role: Chair Communication Centers Section Paper Session

Dr. Carl Brown Top-Ranked Panel Award


Anthony Spencer

Role: Presenter COVID-19 and Government Trust: A Spiral of Silence Analysis in South America

Role: Presenter Pandemic migration: The role of media to and from Latin America

Photo of Dr. Anthony Spencer (right) and Dr. Paola Albarrán from Telemundo Television (left)


Adrienne Wallace 

Role: Presenter Media Mastery: Redefining Media Literacy in the Digital Age

Role: Presenter SPARK A ‘Diversity First’ IDEA: An Approach to Equitable PR Campaigns

Role: Presenter Mitigating Harm: To PLACE PR Ethics at the Center of AI and IoT Strategy

Won Teaching Idea Award

Talking Conference Experience with M.S. Student Brittany Bahl

M.S. Com student Brittany Bahl had the opportunity to attend and present at the Midwest Popular Culture Association 2021 Annual Conference. The conference took place in Minneapolis, MN, from October 8th-10th. We had a chance to catch up with Brittany regarding her first-time experience at the conference.

Brittany states, “it was a great experience, though a little different than it might have been normally because COVID was still a concern at that time and attendance was a lot lower than in previous years. Even so, I was still able to network with some people from other universities and got an opportunity to learn about what other kinds of research they were doing.”

Brittany presented a paper that has become the first chapter of her master’s thesis: “Prince Akeem’s Stolen Royal Oat: The Rhetoric and Legacy of Coming to America.” The paper she presented at the conference is a rhetorical analysis of the Coming to America film franchise, focusing on the rhetoric of toxic masculinity within the film, dealing with issues like representation, objectification, and consent. As a film analysis, it fits very well as a presentation piece for the MPCA. Bahl mentioned that “preparing for the presentation wasn’t too stressful, but I wasn’t sure what to expect (apart from a 15-minute time limit). The conference I attended was small, and most sessions had fewer than ten people in attendance. It was a lot less formal than I had anticipated, and it seemed everyone did what felt comfortable. Some presenters had detailed PowerPoint presentations, while others just stood up front and casually talked about their research for about 10-15 minutes.”

When discussing her interest in attending conferences such as MPCA/ACA, Brittany explained that submitting and presenting papers to conferences while in your master’s is “a good way to bulk up a C.V.” if a student is interested in pursuing a Ph.D. Since beginning the Program, Brittany has had the opportunity to present at two different conferences. She explained that “the process of submitting a paper wasn’t complicated once I found a conference with an open call for papers (CFP). The most difficult part is finding somewhere to send a paper.”

Some advice Brittany would give to other students looking to submit papers to conferences include,

  • Find professional organizations, small or large, and check when they have CFPs for conferences, or sign up for their newsletter and watch for announcements.
  • Ask a professor you know well if they would be willing to look over a paper you’re interested in submitting for a conference. I have had a professor who has assisted since beginning the process.

As for presenting at the conference,

  • Try to prepare something in advance if possible and then attend a few sessions prior to yours and get a feel for what others are doing.
  • Mainly, just try to get your work out there.
  • Make sure you give yourself enough time to edit your work.
  • And follow the organization’s guidelines for submissions. If your paper is selected to present, don’t stress. You’ll get to meet different people, maybe stay in a cool city, and get to share your work. 

Earlier this week, Brittany defended her thesis to the School of Communications M.S. Graduate Committee and was recently accepted to The University of Iowa to pursue her Ph.D. in Communication Studies.

Get to know your M.S. Com Students: Kevin Jurvis

One of the great things about Grand Valley’s Masters of Science in communication program is the wide variety of students it brings. Current M.S. student Kevin Jurvis is getting ready to finish his second semester in the program. Kevin double majored in Political Science and Communication Studies in his undergrad while also being very involved in Alpha Sigma Phi’s fraternity. He served as the Executive Vice President and President of the Fraternity his Sophomore and Junior years. Kevin has always been interested in Politics and has had multiple opportunities to work on various campaigns. He notes that he decided to pick up the second major (communication studies) after taking COM 101 as an elective in his undergrad, stating, “I really loved the material,” and further expressed the remarkable experiences with all Communications Faculty.

Kevin is currently weighing all of his options regarding his future career. For the last few years, he has been working as a transaction coordinator remotely for RE/Max Nexus in Birmingham, MI. And after working in a variety of communication-oriented positions and opening a dialogue with a few different companies, he is very interested in securing a role in the field of Public Relations. Kevin is originally from Huntington Woods, MI, and enjoys playing hockey, visiting his family’s cottage up north, and loves a good round of Euchre. However, in our interview, he mentioned that he is interested in exploring career options outside Michigan.

During his time in Grad School, Kevin has gathered some insight he’d like to share with others who are considering furthering their education.

  1. The program will be what you make of it. The effort you put in will directly correlate with your results. Therefore, it is essential to set goals for yourself, remain on task, and find a balance between school and other extracurriculars.
  2. It is important to understand that the professors are there to help you some days, it may feel otherwise, but the level of material is also meant to challenge you. You are choosing to get this level of education, and therefore it is your responsibility to hold yourself accountable for the level of work you are given.

So far, Kevin says he’s had a great experience in the M.S. program and is happy with his choice to pursue an advanced degree. He closed his interview by saying he would recommend this program to anyone interested in expanding their knowledge in the realm of communications.

“The X” Marks the Spot. New Student AM Radio Station.

The School of Communications has a new AM Radio Station! WLSX or “The X” is a student-run educational radio station that will allow students to get comfortable behind the mic and learn the mechanics that go into running a station. Students have had access to the student-run radio station – WCKS – The Whale and will now use WLSX as their “lab,” where they will work on their radio personalities and gain on-air confidence in the radio course.

We got a chance to sit down with Dr. Len O’Kelly, Associate Director in the School of Communications and faculty advisor for both student radio stations to find out more information about the new station and get some tips on the broadcasting field.

A quote in the Lanthorn article mentioned that students would have “material to go work in broadcasting” after having experience working in a lab setting such as the WLSX station. Can you give us examples of what this end material would include?
The final project in the class has students apply to me for a job. Their “package” includes a cover letter, resume, and a demo reel. The reel is an edited sample of the work that they did throughout the semester. This package is identical to what an air personality seeking work would submit to an employer. Over the years, we have had students complete the class and send the contents of their final package out to employers – and find work. I’m quite proud of that.

What are some of the things learned in the classroom that students will now have a chance to get hands-on practice with because of WLSX?
I like to tell the students that it’s not enough to simply know how a radio station works – you have to do the work for it to really click. I see the on-air component as a supplement to the classroom work. Likewise, while I can teach the skills needed to operate the station, I can’t teach personality and confidence. That only comes through time over the course of a semester and beyond.

What classes within the program do you begin working in the Radio Station?
Students in CMJ 265 Introduction to Radio do their “lab work” on the station. Students are expected to work on the air for two hours a week outside of class time as an ongoing regular class assignment.

What advice would you give to students interested in broadcasting but are uncertain if it’s the major for them?
I’d say to give it a try. When I started in college I was convinced I would remain my first choice – a pre-medical major. I took the radio course as an undergrad because it was something that I was always curious about/fascinated with. Something clicked immediately for me. I discovered my voice, and I felt comfortable as a communicator. Had I not tried it, I may have never discovered a talent that took me around the world – literally – in a 25-year career.

When will the radio station be available online?
Hopefully very soon! We are working with GVSU IT to make the necessary connections to get the audio signal onto an easy to access stream. I am hopeful that we will see this done within the next couple of weeks. Until then, it’s analog listening on 900 AM on campus. Subscribe now to ensure your the first to hear the station once its available online!

The opening of WLSX has garnered a lot of attention on and off GVSU’s campus. WLNS News, WOOD TV, The Lanthorn, The Holland Sentential, and GVNext have all covered the opening of the Radio Station, and are ready to tune in!

Follow WLSX – “The X” on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates!

Attending College in a Pandemic World: Tips to Get By

Hi, I’m Erin Martin! I am completing my last semester at Grand Valley State University, graduating in April 2021 with a degree in Health Communication and a minor in Advertising and Public Relations. I have had the privilege of leading Grand Valley’s Health Communication Coalition as President this year. The Health Communication Coalition is a student club that hosts networking and educational events that allow students to explore the Health Communications field and build relationships with peers in the major program. I have also had the rewarding experience to lead as a PR director, for the Miracle Network Dance Marathon at Grand Valley since 2018, working to mobilize and inspire GVSU and the surrounding Grand Rapids community to raise funds and awareness in support of pediatric patients and their families at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in downtown Grand Rapids. Finally, I’m honored to have received the Excellence in a Discipline award for Health Communications at GVSU this year. 

Before I went off to college, I could have never predicted that my senior year would take place during a global pandemic. COVID-19 flipped our world upside down, causing college students to adjust to an almost unrecognizable college lifestyle. As someone who has spent four years on Grand Valley’s campus, one during the COVID-19 pandemic, I want to share how I have supported myself academically, prepared for my future, as well as how I protected my mental health. 

  1. First things first: You’re doing great. I have observed over the years how hard college students are on themselves. It is important to know that your best probably looks a lot different from your peer’s best. Try not to compare your successes to other’s successes. College is stressful, especially this past year, and you deserve to pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself for making it this far. 
  1. Network, Network, Network! One of my favorite ways to connect with professionals in my field is to reach out to them on LinkedIn. I search for people who have established a career in the field that I am looking into or who works at a company I’m interested in and connect with them by asking if they would be willing to meet and have an informal informational interview over coffee or on Zoom. It is a great way to make connections in your field and learn what’s out there. There are also more traditional networking methods such as career fairs, involvement in organizations or clubs, and connecting with professors. Do not be afraid to push yourself out of your comfort zone!
  1. Find your motivation and personal time management methods. We have all learned how essential time management skills are now that many classes are online and schedules are looser. I use an online scheduling tool called Skolar to help keep me organized. It will help you measure your time management skills and figure out where and how you might be able to improve them.
  1. Get out of the house if possible. During this pandemic, I have discovered the importance of exploring different locations to peacefully study and relax. It is important to clear your head, change the scenery, and find a spot where you can get away. It could be a local coffee shop, a special spot in the library, outside in a hammock, or anywhere else you can think of, just make it yours!
  1. Do not be afraid to ask for help! Whether it’s academically, financially, or mentally, GVSU has great resources that are free to you as a Grand Valley student. As a health communication student, public and community health means a great deal to me, and knowing that Grand Valley has these resources makes it easy to advocate for my peers. Did you know you get 10 free confidential sessions with a certified counselor if you’re a registered GVSU student? To quote the best, “I learned a long time ago the wisest thing I can do is be on my own side, be an advocate for myself and others like me.” – Maya Angelou. Be your own biggest advocate. GVSU also has a Lakers Together page filled with resources to help you succeed and stay informed on the latest COVID-19 updates.

To learn more about student clubs in the GVSU Health Communication program please visit: