A Long Bus Ride

I vividly remember riding home on the bus on one of the last days of 8th grade. Specifically, I remember being scared of growing up but assuring myself that the day I graduated college would never come. It was too far away. I remember being terrified of who I would become as a young adult.

Well, you might have guessed it–the time did come. In just eight days, I’ll walk out of Trask Coliseum with a B.A. in Communication Studies. It is surreal, in a sense, that the time is finally here–hearing about graduation all my life and now I’m finally preparing to walk across the stage. There are things that I will miss about being a college student, absolutely. I’ll miss the beach, the long summers, the one-month winter vacations, the blank check to eat whatever I want and the friends I’ve made here. But ultimately, I’m not dreading graduation, or working a “real job.” I’m looking forward to it. UNC-Wilmington, and specifically the Communication Studies department, has made me into the man I am today. Our major certainly wasn’t an easy one, and I had to take many courses and complete many assignments that I absolutely dreaded. However, I’m very grateful for them now because I see their importance in the post-grad world. There’s no feeling quite like being able to apply your academics to “the real world,” but Communication Studies has given me plenty of opportunities to do this. Seeing the transformative model of mediation in practice at my internship was exciting. Using my Journalism classes to write clear and concise writing has prepared me for most any job I’ll end up taking.

I even hesitate to say that I won’t miss certain things that may seem bothersome–like reading pages and pages of work I wasn’t interested in, or writing long papers late into the night. But even after I did these things, there was a sense of accomplishment. There’s always been a sense of accomplishment in my work, and I can only hope I don’t lose that after graduation.

Right now, it seems like my 30th birthday is forever away. It will never come. Neither will my 40th, or my 50th–it’s almost a separate reality. But just as I would have told my 8th grade self on the bus back in 2006, it will be here much quicker than you know it. I’m not scared this time. I’m ready.

–Brandon Hawkins

I Can’t Believe It’s Finally Here!

My journey to this point has been long and full of bumps in the road, but it has been a memorable and rewarding process. It didn’t start here, but I’m very happy with my decision to complete my education at UNCW. From advising to my current courses, I found UNCW and the Communication Studies Department to be one of the best experiences in my education.

After I graduated from high school way back in 2004, I attended Western Carolina University where I didn’t really take my education seriously as an immature young “adult.” I decided to give my education a rest and sought a different direction for the meantime, which I found in the military. After completing my four years of service, I found myself much more mature and prepared to take on college. Sometimes you’re just not ready for college and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, but I’m not one to leave goals unaccomplished. I chose UNCW as the place where I would make that happen and it ended up being a great decision.

Finding the Communication Studies major gave me a new direction and provided me with opportunities that I could really put my mind to. I was originally a history major, which is something that still deeply interests me, but I also had a strong desire to study advertising. I spoke with some alumni who recommended the communication route and changed my major last year. I was soon introduced to the IMC side of the program and haven’t looked back since.

The Communication Studies Department has given me nearly everything that I could possibly need to be successful after graduation and I couldn’t be happier with my experience. Although I have the typical anxiety of venturing into the unknown, I feel ready to take on whatever comes next. I want to extend a huge thank you to all of the professors who have helped me realize my goal and all the best to our future graduates. As Dr. Olsen would say, “peace out” UNCW.

-Bobby Huckabee

Time to Leave the Nest

From the beginning of my college adventure I feared the day when I would finally walk across that stage to shake the chancellors hand and receive my diploma. Not much has changed about that fear, but thanks to my degree in Communication Studies at UNCW I now have a sparked a sense of excitement. Like every other student in college, I’m afraid of the unknown, which is why I enjoyed college so much. I knew what classes and professors I was going to be taking each semester, but once you graduate the rest of your life is full of unknowns. But now I feel excited about the unknowns because of how well this department has prepared me for life after college.

I began my college adventure at Lenoir-Rhyne as a student athlete majoring in Sports Management, but after two years at a university smaller than my high school I knew I needed a change of scenery.  It wasn’t easy to leave my lacrosse team behind because of the bond we created over those two years but I felt very strongly that earning a degree at UNCW benefit me in the long run.  Upon arriving on campus I knew UNCW didn’t offer Sports Management as a major so I turned to the major that I felt would give me the best chance to enter a related field.

I’d be lying if I said I loved UNCW from the moment I stepped on campus because in reality my first year wasn’t everything I imagined it would be.  It was the first time I was not on a sports team where I was forced to become friends with the guys I was around everyday.  Instead of sulking around I decided to be more active on campus and I joined the Club Lacrosse team.  I obviously didn’t get the same sense of team bonding as  I did with my team at my old school but it was better than nothing.  That is why I encourage everyone to join at least one club on campus your first semester here and to stick with it until you graduate.  The Club Lacrosse team has had its obstacles, but I have really enjoyed seeing the transformation of the team, which will be rewarding for any club you decide to join.  Once I found my niche here in Wilmington I have loved being here more than anything and hope I never have to leave.

I really didn’t expect to love Wilmington as much as I did, but the more I got involved on campus and in the community, the harder it is going to be for me to leave this beautiful city.  College is the most important part of anyone’s life because it is the first time you finally leave home and find out who you truly are as an individual.  Like every other student I have been faced with tough decisions that have formed me into the person I am today and I wouldn’t change any choice I made during my journey.  I’m still afraid of the unknowns that life has in store for me after I walk across that stage, but thanks to my experiences here at UNCW I know I’m ready for anything life throws at me, which has made me really excited for my future.

Tony Mangili

Sad to See It End

I thought I had been ready for graduation years ago but to my surprise, I’m sad to see it come to an end.

I first began college in Florida with a major similar to Communication Studies but not quite the same. I wasn’t thrilled with the curriculum but I was too content living with my parents and wasn’t ready to move away from them. But something happened in the middle of my sophomore year, I fell in love.  To make a long story short, I ended up in Jacksonville, NC as a newlywed.

My apartment in Jacksonville, NC is an hour and a half from UNCW so it was originally out of the question. I found a job and planned on enrolling in school online to finish my degree. I started seeing the obstacles military spouses face with having their own profession and decided that I needed to finish my degree sooner and not put it off. I was determined.Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 12.34.47 PM

Reading over the Communication Studies Department page I was intrigued and knew that I wanted to finish my degree at UNCW. My previous schools had degrees more along the lines of “Mass Media” and those programs didn’t thrill me, I didn’t want to focus solely on that concentration within Communication Studies. The broad curriculum here will help me tremendously when I graduate since I have learned everything from Rhetorical Theory and IMC, to Desktop Publishing.  I feel that the instruction I have received,will allow me to succeed in almost any field.

My journey to UNCW has been a long and complicated one but I wouldn’t change a thing. I want to sincerely say thank you to the COM Department for offering me the opportunity to obtain my degree here and giving me the privilege to learn from such inspiring professors. I don’t know what my next step is just yet but I know that I have been given the tools to succeed.

-Danielle Walters

No Place I’d Rather Be.

I never thought this day would come. I have dreamed of this day with both fear and excitement as I prepare for this next chapter of life. These past two and a half years at UNCW have been amazing, and I wouldn’t have traded them for anything in the world. I came down to Wilmington in the fall of 2012 after transferring from a small school in Virginia. I had come from a school where I was a student athlete and majoring in Business Administration. After realizing that I needed a change of pace, I made the tough decision, packed my bags and headed to the beach.


As soon as I walked onto campus I knew that I had made the right choice. I changed my major from Business to Communication Studies, and I have to say that I really didn’t know what to expect when I signed up for my first class. Everything about this major has been exactly what I needed as the classes I have taken have ranged from Integrated Marketing and Communication to Qualitative Methods. These classes have made me realize that I want to go into a career that involves marketing and advertising. Although this is a competitive career to go into, I know that the COM department has prepared me as I have completed various marketing plans, surveys and advertising strategies.


The days are counting down, as graduation approaches and I am suddenly both excited and afraid of what happens next. I am excited for all the new adventures that lay ahead of me, and all the new people I’ll meet. But then there is also a part of me that is afraid. I won’t ever walk down Chancellors walk with my friends, or attend another lecture in Leutze Hall with some of my favorite professors. All of the little things that I took for granted at my time at UNCW are now coming to the surface and if I could do it all over again I know I would.


Throughout college you make memories that will stay with you forever, and I know that my fondest memories have been made here in Wilmington. I may not know exactly where I am going to end up, but I know UNCW has molded me into a perfect candidate for whatever life throws at me.

Danielle Salas

Sea You Later, UNCW!

I made a lot of pit stops on my way to UNCW but after three years, three schools, and four majors, I finally made it in the fall of 2012. Once I was accepted to UNCW, I decided to change my major (again) to Communication Studies because it was a broad discipline that would give me wiggle room in deciding what I wanted to do after college because I still wasn’t sure (I’m a little indecisive, obviously). After taking Public Relations I and IMC I, I fell in love with that aspect of the communication discipline and knew that I had found my niche. I have always had an intense love for sports so I knew that I wanted to channel that into my future career and public relations and IMC would allow me to do that.

The best part about being a COM major for me has been the professors. Each and every one that I have come in contact with has gone above and beyond to guide me and to help me grow not only as a student but also as a person. The professor that has had the strongest influence on me is Professor Chin. She has helped me to perfect my resume, professional portfolio, and presentation and interviewing skills so that I can feel confident any time I walk in to an interview. She pushes her students to do their absolute best because she knows they are capable of it. She cares for each and every one of her students and it shows in the amount of time and effort she dedicates to them.

IMC BlogThroughout my college years, I have had the pleasure of making many friends and meeting a lot of great people. Several of those friends have now graduated so I was able to witness the freak outs they experienced during that final semester. I never understood why they were so scared because I have been ready to graduate since my first day of college. So obviously it came as a shock to me when I found myself sitting on my couch crying because my final semester was coming to an end and I wasn’t ready for it yet. The amount of times I have thought, “When did I become a grown up, and how do I make it stop?” over the past few weeks is very comical and slightly embarrassing. I may not be emotionally prepared for life after graduation, but I am prepared in every other aspect and I have the amazing professors at UNCW to thank for it.

-Malia Swift

The Time Has Come

Well, here we are. Four days until exams begin and twelve until graduation.The past three and a half years have been the most incredible years of my life. It is crazy to think how much has changed since freshman year and how much I have grown as a person. I remember my freshman year of college like it was yesterday. I moved in with a roommate I had never met and left my parents for the first time. It was a rude awakening since I was coming from a small private school in Winston-Salem, but after getting involved in a sorority and different clubs on campus, I had made a new home. 


My experience at UNCW has been the most rewarding yet challenging time and this semester has not been an exception. While taking 300-400 level classes, I have also been building my professional portfolio and applying and searching for jobs, which has been no joke. After a long process of many interviews and some rejection, I am happy to say that after graduation I will be moving to Charlotte and beginning a career with Diversant on January 5th. I owe this success to the wonderful Communication Studies Department and the time they put into me.


Since I am finishing my degree, I have put together a couple of pieces of advice. First of all, make sure you take the time and effort into maintaining relationships with your professors. These mentors can become great references and eventually friends. Also, make sure you do an internship! Maybe even two. While classes prepared me for my career, the internships I did helped put it into practice and I was able to get experience in what I wanted to do after graduation. Lastly, get involved. Join clubs, honors societies and play intramurals. By doing this you will become well rounded and make more friends and connections.


Although I have had an amazing time at UNCW and have made some of my best friends here, I am very excited for the next step of my life. The Communication Studies Department has prepared me for a career and I cannot wait to use the skills that I have learned in college. Unlike me, take your time finishing college. Enjoy all four years and make the most of your time at UNCW!


Margaret Cafasso