“What is Communication Studies?” is the question I asked my best friend, Lindsey, when I first moved to UNCW as a transfer, mathematics major in the fall of 2007. Like some other unaware individuals, I assumed the discipline dealt with mere public speaking and presentations. Lindsey, a graduating senior in the COM Dept, didn’t verbalize her interpretation of COM Studies; instead she showed me the beginnings of her COM 490 portfolio. As she flipped through her artifacts that highlighted her successes in the department, she was so excited to tell me just what COM Studies was to her and what her department did. With her enthusiasm and zeal in demonstrating her COM history, I began to question my craze for my then major of math.
Several weeks later I was out running errands with Lindsey when we realized we lost track of time, and she needed to be in class in ten minutes. Somehow Linds convinced me to go to class with her, and now looking back I have no idea how she did because who really does this?? Running into Randall Library Auditorium, I found myself halfway embarrassed, but trying to go with the flow sitting in on Tammy Bulger’s Interpersonal Communication class. She opened with a quiz and then began to lecture about romantic relationships and the dynamism that occurs within various contexts and associations. I can remember thinking to myself, “People really study this junk?!” After the fifty minutes ended, I was fascinated by Tammy’s lecture and envious of Lindsey’s ability to call herself a COM major. I know you’re wondering why I am telling you all of this, but this particular day changed my college career and life forever. Lindsey influenced me to pursue communication further the next semester by enrolling in COM 105, the introductory course to the major, and COM 220, Interpersonal Communication, with none other than Tammy Bulger.
Tammy’s glory doesn’t stop with the above reference. As a converted Pre-COM major, Tammy was my advisor and knew I was interested in Public Relations. As we all know, you cannot enroll in PR at UNCW until after meeting the prereqs to be a full COM major. She suggested taking a new course to the department, Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC). Without having a clue what that was, I agreed because she said it related to PR. So in the fall of 2008 I remember sitting in on the first day of then Mrs. Persuit’s IMC class, still wondering what in the world I got myself into. The whole semester involved her persuasion of my class to realize IMC wasn’t a foreign or absurd idea, but it truly connected to all of us and our society ubiquitously. By the end of the semester, her hard work paid off because I became an advocate for the sub-discipline.
After completing Intro to IMC, Dr. Persuit asked me to participate in a DIS with her to explore the IMC world further. Over the course of next year, I researched, planned, promoted and executed an event titled the IMC Workout in the fall of 2009 provided to student organizations who wanted to learn more about marketing strategies to enhance their organization in various areas. In addition to the event, Dr. Persuit asked me to present a project from my intro class in the fall of 2008 at the Carolina’s Communication Association Conference. Toward the end of last semester, I was also asked to present my IMC Workout experience at the State of North Carolina Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium. All of these memorable experiences expanded my appreciation for the field and ignited a passion for IMC.
Looking back on my time at UNCW in the Department of Communication Studies, I ask myself again, “What is Communication Studies?” I don’t have my portfolio to show you on this blog, however Tammy might croak as we did do an electronic version in 490, but I can tell you this: Communication Studies is more than an academic discipline and public speaking; it is all around us, all the time; it is ever-changing research with newfound and old discoveries waiting to be explored; it is the means to the rest of the world’s intricacies; it is a love of mine that no math problem ever gave.
My experience at UNCW is priceless and something I will treasure for a long time. Because of the opportunities given to me in the department, I am certain that this field is one that I want to stay in forever. I have been inspired by so many of our professors that I want to seek higher education and return to academia. I am proud to say that my aspirations are on their way of coming true. I will be graduating on May 8th as a Seahawk, and I will be leaving for Milwaukee, WI, in August to be a Golden Eagle at Marquette University to pursue a master’s degree in Communication. I am even more proud to soon call myself an alumni of the Department of Communication Studies at UNCW, and hopefully one day I will answer other undergraduates wondering, “What is Communication Studies?”