When I first came to UNCW in the fall of 2017, I had no clue about what I wanted to study. I had floated through high school without much of any deep thought about what I wanted to do with my life, much less study at college. Like many people who turn to Communication Studies, I was no good at math or science. While I was better at history and English, what we were learning never grabbed my interest at the time and I did not think I could make enough money using what I learned from those areas. I knew I liked movies, so for lack of a better idea I spent my first semester studying film and a handful of other classes I thought would be interesting to me, like theatre and psychology.
I quickly learned that what I really liked was watching movies, not studying them. The semester after that, I dropped Film Studies and tried out other classes, one of them being COM 105. Communication Studies just seemed to click with me. I stumbled into the major without really giving it another thought. Neither the course itself or Communication Studies in general grabbed my interest but if this was what came naturally to me, why not stick with it for as long as possible?
This lax decision sent me down the path to finding lifelong friends, influential professors, and gaining a practical skillset that I can use both in my career and outside of it. My advice to current COM students would be to get involved in as much as possible. You’ll learn a lot in the major but it will never stick with you if you don’t apply what you learn outside of the classroom, and your classes can only teach you so much. My freshman year I joined the Association for Campus Entertainment, also known as ACE, which gave me the opportunity to apply concepts from the classroom in a variety of leadership positions and really dial in on how important what I was learning was and what it meant to be a student leader. ACE springboarded me into further opportunities that are too many to count and all of them crucial to my development. By taking every opportunity that comes your way, you will ensure that none of what you learn is wasted. All of it is valuable, even if you do not use it straight away.
Most of all though, learn to just roll with the punches. While I wouldn’t recommend enduring three hurricanes and a pandemic as part of your college experience, it definitely helped me put things in perspective. There’s no telling what challenges you might face in the future, and worrying about them before they even arrive will only paralyze you with fear. When you face adversity in the future, whatever form it might take, remember that your major and your experiences arm you with the tools you need to overcome it.
Written by Ryan Moody.You can learn more about Ryan and our other blog writers by clicking the “Our Team” banner at the top!
Coming into UNCW as a transfer sophomore year was tough. This was definitely a nerve racking experience due to the fact I had no close friends that attended UNCW, and I was living with random roommates. However, coming to UNCW was definitely one of the best decisions I have ever made. There are so many opportunities at UNCW, and it is so important to find the right fit for you.
Finding the right fit for myself was definitely a struggle at first. Growing up I always imagined myself as a sorority girl, because I love making new friends and have always had a big group of girlfriends. I quickly learned that the sorority life was not for me, and that was ok! I was not a fan of the structure and rules that go along with joining Greek life. The good news is UNCW offers so many clubs, and organizations for individuals to plug themselves into that I quickly joined another club called Delight. After joining a club that was a fit for me I thrived, and instantly made lifelong friendships.
The take away from this is to follow the path made for you and don’t settle. Although all my friends at other schools were sorority girls I learned that it’s ok to branch out and be different. I have met so many cool people through organizations I had no idea about before attending UNCW.
Finding the right major
Growing up I have always thought of myself as a teacher, because I have a passion for working with kids. I planned on graduation as an elementary education major. It’s funny how plans change in college. I am currently set to graduate in December as a Communication Studies major.
After taking several education classes I learned that career path was not for me. I had never considered another major, and had no idea what direction to go in. I knew communication was always an option, but I thought of myself as an excellent communicator already due to my confidence and outgoing personality. Oh was I wrong.
After taking a few communication classes I learned that I was nowhere near close to being an effective communicator. By majoring in Communication Studies, not only did I learn how to effectively convey messages, but I also gained confidence in addressing a large group of people. Communication was definitely the major for me, and has prepared me for any potential job with a versatile set of skills. I can definitely give credit to this major and all of UNCW’s COM professors for opening so many doors for me in the business world.
Taking on Corona Changes
My time at UNCW has taught me to be patient and accept change. There are some things in this world that you cannot control however, you can control how you handle situations. Corona is a great example. Having my last semester moved online was disappointing news and definitely hard. However, this change helped me grow as a person.
One of my weaknesses is that I am a procrastinator. Taking all online classes has definitely helped me in dealing with this trait. Organizing my workload, and setting a schedule was fundamental to completing my work and passing this semester. I am currently a fifth year and have been dead set on graduating in December so I knew how important it was to pass all my classes this semester.
Online classes have also turned me into a self-motivator. This is a great quality to have, and many jobs are looking for an individual with this trait. By not meeting for classes I wasn’t getting the one-on-one interaction I usually receive during in-person classes. I learned how to be the “professor” to myself, and stay on top of things while motivating myself to show up and show out in my assignments.
Although there were many road bumps this semester due to COVID it is important to embrace these challenges, and make the best out of the situation while growing.
Advice to you
College is not going to be easy and there will be speed bumps along the way, but it is so important to stay optimistic. Staying optimistic is my biggest advice to you. Take every set of challenges you are faced with as an opportunity to learn and grow as an individual.
Also get involved!! This is so so important, and one of my biggest regrets is not getting more involved. There are so many opportunities to get involved at UNCW – so take advantage of them. I didn’t get involved until later junior year, and after getting involved, I finally feel like I am getting the most out of my college experience. After getting involved I also found my happiness that I didn’t know I was missing, and created lifelong friendships that I wish I had created early in my college career.
College is difficult, but well worth it. Looking back at my time at UNCW, I am so proud and surprised at how much I have grown as a person. UNCW will definitely change your life in the most positive impactful ways.
Written by Bonny Harris.You can learn more about Bonny and our other blog writers by clicking the “Our Team” banner at the top!
When I transferred to UNCW in the fall of 2018 I had thought I had already experienced my share of natural disasters. I spent my freshman year in the mountains dealing with wildfires, then ice and snowstorms, before I decided to take a year off and work in Florida. Hurricane Irma was the first time I had to deal with a hurricane without my parents telling me what needed to be done, and soon after I watched the devastation that Hurricane Maria had on my friends from Puerto Rico and their families. In a truly inspired move, I transferred to UNCW thinking that hurricanes wouldn’t be a huge issue.
Hurricane Florence was a bizarre experience. I grew up in North Carolina and for the most part, none of us were that concerned about it. It wasn’t a particularly strong hurricane, so I went to my mom’s house in Hampstead. Florence made landfall directly across the Intercoastal Waterway from the house and spent days ravaging the North Carolina coast. It went from an ordinary hurricane to a devastating storm. My family was really lucky. Our house is set back from the water and halfway up a decent hill, so storm surge tore off part of our dock but never reached the house. We had wind and water damage, but nothing that would force us out of the house. We cleaned up after the hurricane and were prepared to move on. Roads were still closed and many in the area had completely washed away so we were still figuring out the full impact of what had happened. My big worry was when I would be able to go back to school.
Once power and internet was restored we were able to see how devastating Hurricane Florence had been. I grew up going to Surf City every weekend and the town released drone footage of the island because it was still nearly impossible to reach by car. The sand in the streets was covering road signs and our favorite restaurant would have to be completely gutted because the damage was so severe. In Hampstead and Wilmington roads had been washed away leaving people stranded. People all over the state rallied around coastal communities, many of which are still feeling the effects of Hurricane Florence. A sophomore at my high school organized truckloads of donations to be brought to Wilmington. UNCW students organized a group to help rebuild homes and distribute donations. People are resilient. We rallied and rebuilt the best we could.
Hurricane Dorian the next fall was nowhere near as devastating. We missed a week of school at most and thought that would be our big event for the school year. Then over an extended spring break, we found out that we would need to empty our dorms and return home for the remainder of the semester. In early March none of us knew how bad Covid-19 would be, and it had barely been on the news. In the span of two weeks, it went from a footnote to the main subject. Over 250,000 Americans have died since then, and it doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. Collectively, we need to work to overcome this the same way we work to get supplies and aid to victims of hurricanes and wildfires.
Covid-19 is inherently different from other disasters most people alive today have experienced. While we know what to do after fires and hurricanes, none of us have experienced a health crisis on this level. H1N1 and Ebola were in the news, but it wasn’t something that was devastating across the globe. It is harder for us to understand, and because it is a new virus there isn’t a medical best practice yet. Because of the early lack of information publicly available, the novel Coronavirus became a political tool in an election year. Alarmingly, political rhetoric around Covid-19 seems to be the most dividing factor on how it is handled. In historically conservative states people that are elected to serve and protect their constituents are continuing to represent this crisis as a matter of personal freedoms or refuse to publicly recommend that constituents follow CDC guidelines. People adapt well to overcome crises that they understand, but the uncertain nature of this pandemic seems to have left some people unable to adapt.
The American people as a whole are remarkably resilient and adapt to overcome seemingly any crisis. After the wildfires in 2016, my friends and I watched as towns were rebuilt after entirely burning down. Gatlinburg was destroyed just a week or two after we took a weekend trip, and today it looks almost the same as it did when we visited. In 2017, people all over Florida worked together to organize aid and supplies for the victims of Hurricane Maria. Hurricane Florence brought waves of support from people all over North Carolina. Time and time again we have seen people rally around those in need. Once the rhetoric surrounding Covid-19 becomes less divisive and there is a greater understanding of the virus, history suggests that once again people will adapt and overcome.
Written by Savannah Gibson.You can learn more about Savannah and our other blog writers by clicking the “Our Team” banner at the top!
Throughout all of my semesters as a UNCW Communication Studies student, I have always been reminded that the COM department is constantly preparing its students for the professional world. With the spring semester rapidly approaching, and my graduation along with it, it is absolutely mind-boggling to look back at my time here and pick up on some of the unforgettable pieces of wisdom that I have collected while studying in this field; some of which were intentionally taught, and some that were not.
To start, I never saw professional value in my interpersonal skills until I began studying COM. Technical skills are important in the post-grad world, but we also need to be able to use empathy to imagine how our customers might feel in regards to a questionable marketing campaign, influencing to bring the team together for a project, and active listening to figure out the best way to respond to someone who we are communicating with. Successful professionals have to be well-versed in all of these areas, not just in the skills that fall under technical. Learning this also helped me realize that a healthy-group dynamic consists of a diverse group of people with various strengths. The way that I think and complete tasks is very different from how one of my classmates might, or how my boss might. However, it is because of these differences that we can work together to bounce ideas off of each other and create a successful product. Working with a group of people that don’t share similar strengths can also help everyone develop their weaker areas, specifically because members can observe how their teammates do things or even ask for advice on certain areas. In the end, the individuals within the team learn how to become more well-rounded professionals and foster a positive environment for the group that is productive and connected.
A major chunk of knowledge from this department boils down to the fact that we all have the communication tools needed to sell ourselves to potential employers, customers, group members, significant others, etc. All we have to do is learn what areas we need to improve and what areas we are naturally gifted at, then actively develop these attributes in order to properly represent ourselves. While the COM department does help us with the basics and the theory that goes into this process, they leave it to us to put in the effort to grow. We can see this in the classes that COM majors are required to take; we learn basic computer programs in CSC 105, proper public speaking etiquette in COM 101, how to conduct research and write about our findings in COM 200, and many others until we bring it all together in COM 400 to find the best way to display our strengths and acknowledge our weaknesses to land post-grad opportunities.
Something that has become more evident over the years of acquainting myself with the department faculty is that even the more experienced adults in our lives aren’t always sure what they are doing; they are imperfect humans as well. When you see one of your professors crack jokes at their boss (who is also their friend), or hear them talk about something embarrassing they did over the weekend, you start to see them as actual people who are relatable by nature. With this topsy-turvy semester in particular, I have seen professors who reflected similar themes to myself and my peers such as having trouble staying motivated, completing tasks late, experiencing zoom fatigue, etc. It helps to remember that the people we look up to are not too different from ourselves when we are attempting to figure out our future plans, because then the idea of being successful and happy seems obtainable. It also helps us keep in mind that we need to be more understanding with each other; no matter how experienced someone is or how professional they are, they are human too and they have moments where they are struggling. That means being ready and willing to provide support when needed, even to the ones who seem like they have their life in order.
Based off of how quickly this semester went, graduation will be here before I know it, and I couldn’t have done it without all of the knowledge, support, and spirit that I received from this department. However, I am now realizing that there was something the COM department never prepared me for; the fact that I’m not ready to leave yet.
Written by Emma D’Anjolell. You can learn more about our blogwriters by clicking the “Our Team” banner at the top!
Am I the only one who thought their four years at UNCW went by fast? Like really fast. Well, I guess technically the Class of 2021 only had one full year. Shoutout to Hurricane Florence, Hurricane Dorian, and COVID-19 for that nonsense. But here I am, heading into my final semester thinking about the last four years and how I wouldn’t change them for the world. I have experienced so much, and I’d like to say I learned a few things along the way. So, I have some advice for current and future Seahawks.
Find your passion- Major in something that interests you, something you’re passionate about. UNCW offers a variety of majors and concentrations within them. Explore the different courses and find your place. It might take a year or two but it’s better than getting a degree in something you don’t care about.
Get involved- There are so many student run clubs/organizations on campus, everything from Beekeepers to ski and snowboard. I joined club soccer my freshman year and it has been one of the best decisions I’ve made. I’ve met so many amazing people and was able to play the game I love. I highly recommend attending the Involvement Carnival and signing up for anything that sounds interesting.
Look before crossing- If you’ve never almost been hit by a biker or skateboarder on Chancellor’s Walk then you haven’t gotten the full UNCW experience. Campus is filled with Lance Armstrong and Tony Hawk wannabes and they do not slow down for anyone. So, unless you want to end up in the hospital, I recommend looking both ways before crossing.
It’s okay to skip class- I’m sure professors won’t be too fond of this one. But if it’s 85, the sun is out, and someone invites you out on their boat, but you have class…skip the class. Missing one day will not be the end of the world, I promise. Just don’t make it a habit.
Galloway is the OG- Okay, Galloway might have a bad rep but living in that prison-like building is an experience like no other. Just imagine living in a hotel with all your friends, it doesn’t get much better than that. The dorm experience is a must have. And even though it might get torn down, Galloway will always be superior and hold a special place in my heart.
Campus life is the best life- UNCW’s campus is beautiful. My favorite time of the year is that first warm day of spring and everyone is chilling on campus in Enos, laying in the grass, or throwing a frisbee. I wish I would have enjoyed those days a little more now that campus is like a ghost town.
Get to know your professors- This is something I truly regret. I was taught by some of the most amazing and intelligent professors. Go to their office hours. Talk about classes. Talk about something other than classes. Professors are people too.
There is more than meets the eye- I’m sure location played a big part in your decision to become a Seahawk. Wilmington has so much more to offer than just the beach. Explore your community. Try a new restaurant or brewery every week. There are plenty of hidden gems to be found.
Don’t blink- College is an amazing experience but trust me, it flies by. You never know when something like a global pandemic is going to take away your senior year. Your last year with your friends. Your last year of being young and dumb. So, don’t take it for granted.
As Andy Bernard once said, “I wish there was a way to know you were in the good old days, before you actually left them.” To future and current Seahawks, you picked a truly incredible place to spend the next stage of your life. Make memories that will last a lifetime. Enjoy every second of it.
Written by Rachel Nuhfer.You can learn more about Rachel and our other blog writers by clicking the “Our Team” banner at the top!
Adaptation. Resilience. Vulnerability. As my time at UNCW comes to a close, I’ve found myself reflecting on these three values and the essential role they’ve played in my ability to embrace change and inspire personal and professional growth as a student. Although these three values are rooted in my own development, this growth would not have been possible without the support of my professors and the Communication Studies faculty.
For the Class of 2020, the experiences we’ve had with our COM professors have been all-encompassing. They’ve watched us as we’ve developed from promising students to passionate graduates to-be. They’ve seen us overcome obstacles and realize our potential as we grew within our discipline, supporting us along the way with encouragement and affirmations. They’ve seen us stumble into 8am classes tired and unenthusiastic, and welcomed us with humor and understanding. They’ve shared our excitement for our successes and our disappointment for our failures. The relationship we’ve created with our professors is special, but for the past two semesters, they’ve gotten to see another side of us—as have we with them—that has made our relationship unique: we’ve seen each other at our most vulnerable.
As we shifted to online classes to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, we uncovered vulnerabilities with our peers and professors that we hadn’t revealed before. Through the medium of Zoom, we were invited into each other’s most personal spaces. We’ve gathered virtually in each other’s bedrooms, offices, and kitchens. We’ve seen each other unkempt, donned in our pajamas with faces unwashed and hair uncombed. We’ve seen disheveled apartments with unwashed dishes, unmade beds, and disorganized offices. We’ve seen our peers quarantined, participating in class while battling the tail end of their recovery from COVID-19. We’ve overheard conversations that were meant to be muted, seen visuals that were meant to be hidden, and experienced sharing our most intimate spaces with many whom we hadn’t interacted with beyond the classroom. Whether we intended to or not, some of us have arguably shared too much (insert collective moment of solace for those who forgot to turn off their camera in the bathroom—I admire your humanity). But, what’s resulted from this unusual and slightly uncomfortable venture is a deepened sense of community and humility. Despite each of the challenges we’ve faced amidst isolation and remote learning, we’ve become more familiar with each other’s humanness. We’ve seen each other vulnerable.
There’s something reassuring about seeing the equally as imperfect versions of your classmates and professors gather on an early morning Zoom. There’s something refreshing about accidental unmutings and casual moments of candor that otherwise wouldn’t be shared if it weren’t for the virtual nature of this school year. There’s something relieving about this unconcealed collective struggle that makes something so foreign feel familiar. What initially felt like an awkward intrusion has turned into a means of comfort and connection. Throughout the past year, I’ve developed a strange appreciation for ‘virtual vulnerability’ and the authenticity that comes with it. Perhaps one day, we’ll be nostalgic for the transparency of these unusual circumstances the same way we’re nostalgic for what was once ‘normal’. But, for now, I’ve found relief in the abnormal, I’ve found humor in the absurd, and I’ve found comfort in the uncomfortable. Truthfully, I might actually prefer these raw versions of ourselves over the polished versions that we grew so accustomed to.
While the past two semesters have proven to be mentally and emotionally taxing for myself and many others, the fundamental exercise of resilience and adaptation calls for choosing a response that embraces your vulnerabilities in the face of change.
To the students entering UNCW, I encourage you to keep one thing in mind: the inevitability of change. There’s no telling what the academic year will look like as you navigate college in the years following the pandemic; however, there is one guarantee, and that is change. The changes that you will face will be challenging, as they will often be unexpected, but they will be transformative if you award yourself the additional challenge of embracing your vulnerability to inspire adaptation and resilience.
More than anything, the inevitability of change is a reminder to value the present moment and the people within it. Upon entering UNCW, create a relationship with your professors; be transparent with them and respect them as people. Our professors are equally as human as we are, and more often than not, they feel the same uncertainties twice over for their students in the face of change. Throughout all of the unpredictable changes at UNCW, the one thing that has stayed consistent is the dedication of our professors; they will be alongside you the entire way, and believe me, they want to see you succeed.
The experiences you will have throughout your time at UNCW will likely go unmatched. Although you will inevitably get clouded by deadlines, personal setbacks, and other reliable obstacles, I urge you to keep the bigger picture in perspective. Though this reads as a cliché, it is a fact of life: the only constant is change, and you never know when the most definitive changes are coming. My time at UNCW has taught me that change is in fact inevitable, and as I approach graduation, I’ve made a promise to myself to continue learning and embracing change as if I were still a student. I know that in order to do so successfully, I’ll need to continue to be vulnerable, adaptable, and resilient; skills that UNCW has uniquely prepared me for. Enrolling in UNCW almost promises an unpredictable experience, but if you have reservations about potentially forgoing a ‘normal’ college experience, take it from someone whose path has been anything but ordinary: I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Written by: Emily Norris, soon to be UNCW COM Alum
After graduating from high school, I expected my journey in college to be a straight path. Pick a university that I attend all four years, choose a major that I stick with throughout my undergraduate career, graduate on time and enter the professional world. Although I did not follow this path, I am grateful for the journey I have taken. After about five months at the university I was attending as a freshman, I knew that I was not happy and this was not the university I was meant to be at. I began exploring other options and finally chose UNC Wilmington. Attending UNC Wilmington has been the greatest blessing that I could have ever asked for.
When I first arrived at UNCW I thought I wanted to be a physical therapist. I knew that I always enjoyed helping people, so I chose to go with the path of an Exercise Science major. Over the course of the next year, something was not clicking. I could not find the passion and interest within this major that I originally hoped for. This is when I began to evaluate myself and my options. I had a few friends who were in the Communication Studies department focusing on the IMC track. After much thought, I decided to make the switch to Communication Studies. Ever since I made that switch, I have not once second-guessed my decision.
Before changing my major halfway through my junior year, I knew there would be a possibility that I would graduate late. Of course, this worried me at first, but I soon realized that everyone completes college at their own pace and there is nothing wrong with my graduation date being a semester later than originally planned. I realized that we are all on our own timeline and not everyone’s journey will be the same. One piece of advice I have for someone worrying about something similar, is to focus on yourself. It is okay to worry because that is natural, but just know that you will finish at the time that you are supposed to. As clichéd as it sounds, everything does happen for a reason. I truly stand by that.
I knew that everything happens for a reason when COVID-19 struck our world. As terrible as this virus has been, it has allowed me to ease myself into the professional world which has ultimately been of great benefit to me. This past summer I had the privilege of being a marketing intern at an environmental sustainability company. The company is based out of San Francisco. Although this internship was not like normal ones due to COVID-19, I have learned more now than I ever could have hoped for. If I did not change my major and push back my graduation date, I may have not had this same opportunity. I cherish the journey that brought me here and the experiences that I have had. Working as a marketing intern and amplifying the voice of this brand that has incredible goals to change the world has been the most rewarding experience.
As I worked through the Communication Studies and IMC curriculum, I found a natural passion and interest within this field. Looking back on my four and a half years as an undergrad, I have truly realized that everything has a way of working itself out. Going into college, I always thought I was destined to work in the medical field. Although I still have some interest in that area and applaud those who choose that path, I came to realize the path I was destined for was elsewhere. You can be so set on a path for yourself, but life has a way of leading you to doors that you are meant for whether you realize it or not.
As I look into the future, I am very curious about where life will take me. Life can be so unpredictable and the uncertainty extremely nerve-racking. Some goals I have for myself and my future is to always find joy in what I do and to never stop doubting myself. I have struggled a lot with self-doubt, but have realized that you are your biggest critic. Realizing that while also realizing your potential is what will help you succeed in life. You can do incredible things if you always have faith in yourself. If you are reading this, this is your reminder to never stop working for what you want and to always believe in yourself.