Cheers to Senior Year

“UNCW.”

What was the first thing you thought of when you read that? If it wasn’t “teal” you probably aren’t a true Seahawk.

All of us here at UNCW know that everything is teal. By senior year, some might even say they are “tealed out.” I, however, have managed to go my entire time at UNCW with only ONE teal shirt. Is that even possible? Did I just set a record?

And thinking about my time here at UNCW, all I can ask is, “How did it go by SO fast?” Graduation is in 12 days?! Slow down!”

My time at UNCW didn’t just begin freshman year of college, it actually began freshman year of high school. In 2006, I became part of the inaugural class at Isaac Bear Early College High School. An accelerated high school here in Wilmington that is partnered with UNCW. During freshman and sophomore year, students complete high school curriculum so that junior and senior year they can become full time students at the university. So since 2008 I have been a full time student at the “dub” – walking up and down Chancellors, studying at “Club Randall”, hanging out at “Wagsgiving”.

Six years! A lot of things have changed in six years… I’m no longer terrified of public speaking, I know the difference between communication and communications, and very shortly I will have two degrees and minor. But many things haven’t changed  either… parking on campus is still a pain, we still don’t have a football team, and I’m still a procrastinator.

Yet somewhere in the midst of those six years the question stopped being “So what major are you?” to “So what are you going to do when you graduate?” And while I don’t know exactly what lies ahead after graduation, I do know that I have a great resume, and I know how to write a good cover letter, and I know that COM 400 has pushed me to reflect upon and articulate all the skills and experiences UNCW has given me.

Senior year has been the best experience so far. It has been the first year I actually couldn’t wait til the night before to start and finish an assignment, the first year I actually worked in every single class I took, and the first year I felt truly accomplished.

Do you want to have an awesome senior year too? Do you want to be pushed? Build your resume? Really learn some valuable skills? Here’s my senior year line up in the Department of Communication Studies:

Fall Semester

Public Relations II: In this class you and your team develop a public relations proposal for a client. That includes writing and sending out surveys, creating flyers and brochures, and developing other clever tactics and strategies. The clients in this class change every semester, when I took it, I worked with PCOM Advising and Professors Chin and Bulger. They even implemented the CBT we made for them! Other than working with a client you also learn about the media outlets here in town, how to react in a press conference, and how to shoot B-Roll.

Integrated Marketing II: Another client based class; this one has been one of my favorites! You simultaneously learn about the relationship between marketing and consumer behavior and then apply that to the strategic plan you create for your client. My group worked with UNCW’s CREST Research Park. We researched the competition, we looked at how to cater to a niche market, and we even got experience working on search engine optimization.

CMM: The man who developed this theory actually teaches the class! How often do you get to take advantage of an opportunity like that? Dr. Cronen teaches the idea of circular questioning. The method essentially boils down to this: meaning is created, the meaning that you have cultivated regarding something might be different from the one I created about the same thing, so how do we know we are on the same page? Circular questioning helps with that clarification and I have even found the method useful during client interviews in other classes.

Media Law and Ethics: As a Political Science major as well, this class was already of interest to me, but if you are looking to go into a field that involves any kind of reporting or journalistic endeavor, this class is a must. It can help teach you how to stay out of hot water as you gather information for, and broadcast, your news stories. The professor who teaches this course has a lot of working experience in the field, he is a great resource for questions!

Spring Semester

Sports Writing: What else could you ask for when your homework is to go to games and watch your favorite teams play on television? In addition to the fun discussion of the class, Professor Laverty of the English Department, challenges your writing to be both engaging and concise. How do you write about a game that readers already know the outcome of? “Make it sing,” he says.

Advertising II: Another great applied learning class. This time, client groups stimulate the setting of a real ad agency – broken into divisions like account executives, copyrighters, and art directors. This semester I have been working with ETEAL. We’ve worked on creating a new logo for them and are also running an Instagram contest! (By the way there’s still time to submit! Find out more here!)

Capstone: Let me be honest. At the beginning of the school year, my resume needed work. Not merely just in the document itself, but because I needed to do some work to put on it. So I did – and with the guidance of COM 400, I have resume that actually showcases my strengths, skills, and projects. How fortune we are in this major to have a class designed specifically to help you prepare for interviews, create a portfolio,  and teach you the do’s and don’ts of networking. Take advantage!

DIS: This semester, I took part in a Directed Independent Study with Dr. Persuit and Dr. Bolduc. Three students focused on integrated marketing and two student in video production joined together to found UNCW’s first student run Integrated Marketing Firm, Pier601 Creative. A firm that allows students, who are seriously interested in the field, to produce outstanding work for clients in the Wilmington community. Rising seniors should contact either professor if you think you may be a good fit for being part of this experience!

Bottom line, everything rewarding comes from working. Those client projects you do… yes, they’re A LOT of work, but you also learn a lot of skills that you easily relate to any employer.

Get involved in the department. Don’t let your class schedule confine the times you are on campus. Find some interests and go to meetings! Look into CSS, LPH, AD Chapter, or TealTV.

As my capstone teacher likes to often remind us, “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? – Mary Oliver”. So ask yourselves what are you going to do with your time at UNCW and/or in the COM Department? Are you going to just get a degree or are you going to get an experience? You get to decide. I decided on the latter, and I am so thankful for the teachers who pushed me and the classmates who supported me.

Cheers to all of us who have come this far, and to all of those who will follow!

Savannah Valade
UNC Wilmington 2014
Political Science Major
Communication Studies Major
Journalism Minor
Lambda Pi Eta
Pier601 Creative

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19 thoughts on “Cheers to Senior Year

  1. What an inspiring blog! I am a senior as well, and I have the butterflies when I think about my final semester here at UNCW. I really thought the way you organized your blog was very helpful and gave me some insight on some of the classes I will be taking next Fall. I haven’t been at UNCW for quite as long as you have, but I can relate to a majority of what you have said. I am definitely thankful I have joined CSS and have been trying to experience campus at it’s highest potential. Good luck in the future!

    • Thank you Cameron! I am so glad you have joined CSS. I was never a consistent member but I did attend meetings throughout my years and I know the society offers a lot of great networking and resume building opportunities that you should definitely take advantage of. If you haven’t already, you should consider doing Project Protege!

  2. Savannah thank you for sharing your words of wisdom! I love hearing from someone in the major about what classes to take and why. I also am inspired by a fellow double major. I am glad you outlined why to take certain classes because a few of the ones you mentioned, CMM and PR II, are ones I had already been thinking about. Thank you for sharing what you have gained in the Communication studies major and helping out a fellow Seahawk. Good luck after graduation!

    • Thank you Emma! If you are looking for a class that really gives you some post college skills, I would recommend PR II if you are going the marketing direction. However, if your other major involves anything regarding psychology, negotiation, or organizational consulting, I would recommend CMM.

  3. Savannah, this was such an amazing blog post. I learned so much from you about all of these upper level classes that the COM Department offers. Your course descriptions are better than anything that they school could ever put in the course catalog. I had already been thinking about some of these classes so you definitely have given me that push I have needed to get me over the hump on which classes to take. Good luck to you in your endeavors after graduation!

    • Thanks Lucas! Yes, course descriptions never do justice to the classes. If you’re interested in the marketing field at all, I would highly recommend taking a client based class! You learn so much by actually doing the work rather than just reading about it in a textbook.

  4. I really enjoyed the opening of this blog post. Its sad that “teal” is not the first thing people think about when they think of UNCW. We all know that UNCW has a certain reputation that is less than stellar and I think it takes all of us as a student body to try and change that. While we do love to hang at the beach there are still plenty of us that work hard and see our grades, GPA, and future as the most important things. Thank you for telling it how it is!

    • You’re right Brett, UNCW does sometimes just get labeled as the beach school, but the COM Department really showcases the opportunities that their majors are exposed to. Keep up the hard work!

  5. This was great! I really like your reminiscing on your time here and UNCW. You seem to have really had an amazing college experience. I like how you outlined the classes, because it gives others and myself a chance to understand classes from a students perspective. I have been thinking about some of the classes that you mentioned and it makes me more comfortable going into those classes! Congrats on graduating!

  6. Savannah, this is one of my favorite blog posts I have read yet! I can’t believe I will be a Junior next year and the question of “So what will you do after you graduate?” is quickly becoming something I need to consider. I love the Communication Studies major and have already learned so much. I appreciate your feedback on the classes you have taken! It will be very helpful when I am deciding which classes to take in the future. You have reminded me of the importance of challenging myself and becoming involved. I definitely do not just want a degree; I want an experience!

    • Thanks Jamie! I’m glad that my course descriptions have helped you learn a little bit more about the classes! I would really recommend taking as many classes as you can that give you applied learning. It’s always tough when we challenge ourselves but remember the reward is so worth it!

  7. Wow! You’ve really gotten everything you could out of your experience here. You’re very right about graduation sneaking up and I’ll be in your shoes come December. This post has made me excited to tackle my final semester and experience what you’re currently experiencing. Congratulations!

  8. I really appreciate your post. So often, I get caught up in my schedule, when can I fit this in or when could I make time to do that. Listening to your advice about making it an experience really encourages me to get involved and learn everything I can through my peers and professors. Thanks for your advice, congratulations!

    • Thanks Eva. Getting involved doesn’t always mean taking on extracurriculars. It can as simple as taking on leadership roles in projects or just going that extra step. I got involved simply through the classes I took. Client based or applied learning classes are often a lot of work, but like I said, they are also very rewarding.

  9. Reading about your past at UNCW really made me think about my past and future at UNCW! Your outline of classes made me see my journey in a different light!

  10. What an inspiring and heartfelt blog post! Thank you Savannah for your confident attitude and words of wisdom. Even though I came to UNCW as a junior, I still feel as teal as a four year graduate should! Sharing a listing of these courses for other COM majors was so gracious of you. Im now finishing up PRII and I have to say it was crucial for my communication writing skills. I can tell that this major is for me because I feel and share your charisma!

    • Thank you Cailynn! I’m glad that you felt PR II was a great skill building class. I know I worked A LOT in that class, but I also feel confident sharing the experience with potential employers. Keep pushing yourself and try to check out other client based classes if you have time left!

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