COM Studies: A large major but a close-knit community

If someone would have told me going to UNCW would be the most eventful three years of my life I would have probably rolled my eyes. Eventful is quite an understatement. Between hurricanes, being locked in Randall library in the middle of a COM 200 test because someone got shot in the apartment complex next to campus, and a global pandemic… who would have thought this would be our college career. My roller coaster experience of college started in Fall 2018. I had decided right away Communication Studies was the route I wanted to go; this was decided after taking a public speaking class and learning the many avenues that you could go with a communication studies degree. Because who doesn’t like options? Little did I know COM was one of the largest majors but one of the closest knit communities I would be a part of.

Trust me, walking into Dr. Weber’s COM 105 you wouldn’t think this major would be so close. As the courses go on you start to meet new people, see the same people and learn how to navigate through the major and find your way. My biggest struggle for myself was figuring out which route to take within the major. In the beginning I was just floating. Taking random COM courses here and there. I tried out IMC and felt like I didn’t fit a certain mold, but the more IMC classes I took, I soon realized there isn’t a mold to fit. When you are on campus you can clearly determine who is a nursing major or who is in Cameron. COM has such a wide array of students. You could talk to any person in your class and not feel awkward or feel like you asked a dumb question in COM 301 Rhetorical Theory because no one knew what was going on.

“COM has such a wide array of students”

After dealing with Hurricane Florence and surviving COM 200, I was finally assigned my advisor. Lucky me, I got Professor Rick Olsen as my COM advisor. Though I had him for 200 I would get so nervous to talk to him about advising. Which I learned after our first interaction I was crazy for being nervous. He was always transparent and encouraging whenever we spoke. There was always ‘tough love’ advice. I remember telling Dr. Olsen I wanted to begin my career in Wilmington and he was pretty honest and told me ‘Wilmington is very competitive, good luck.” At first it felt like a dig but as I thought over it several hundred times, I realized because of his transparency I was able to be honest with myself and push my expectations so I could compete in Wilmington. The transparency and tough love is seen throughout COM. Though higher education is seen as professional or refined, the professors in COM have managed to hug the line of professionalism while being themselves which is a blessing. Having professors who are approachable makes a huge difference and I am forever grateful that I got to experience professors who are passionate about their field of study and ensuring COM majors are meeting as well as exceeding the expectations.

As we are inching closer to graduation, I am relieved and sad. I am relieved that we all survived a global pandemic, hurricanes and life and managed to make it to the finish. I am personally relieved because I have been enrolled for a year straight with no break. I am relieved because this hard work has helped me land a position before graduating so I can begin the next phase in my life. I am sad to close this long, eventful chapter out. My time with UNCW and the communication studies department has been amazing. I am thankful for the colleagues, connections and professors I have met during my time. If I was to give any advice to PCOM and current COM majors, please get involved. Whether it is Communication Studies Society, an internship or a club. Take this time to build your portfolio and your network! I am involved with a non profit organization that advocates, unites and builds a community amongst small business owners in Downtown Wilmington and I have built an amazing relationship with Wilmington locals, my mentor has become a guide during the job search and I am currently helping plan an event with a colleague! Make sure you are doing what makes you happy, that will best suit you and your career path!

Nicole Delgado is a May 2021 graduate and is adaptable, intellectually curious, and hungry for great results.