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HOMECOMING 2002: Communication Arts Students gain ‘Wisdom from the Trenches’

JACKSON, Tenn.Feb. 12, 2002 – The Bible says that wisdom is more valuable than rubies or gold. This year the Department of Communication Arts decided to share its treasure with “Wisdom From the Trenches,” a two-hour look at a featured panel of successful and accomplished Union communication arts graduates.

"The goal of this program is to connect our current majors with our alumni in hopes that they can learn more about the different professions and establish relationships that might lead to further connections such as internships, job opportunities and mentoring relationships," said Kina Mallard, associate professor and chair of the communication arts department.

Professor David Burke introduces Mac Lower ('95) and Heather Tinsley ('98) to the students before everyone divided into their discipline “Breakout” groups.

Alumni traveled from as far away as Colorado, where Christy Holbrook Lynn works with Christian psychologist James Dobson’s organization, Focus on the Family. Lynn graduated from Union in 1996 with an emphasis in broadcasting.

"I think it really says something about the loyalty that alumni have to the Communication Arts Department, when they are willing to travel from as far away as Texas and Colorado in order to share what they have learned with our current students," Mallard pointed out.

Mallard played a key role in organizing this year’s event.

"This is one of the most valuable things we do for our majors,” said Mallard. “It gives students a chance to learn from the experience of those who graduated less than 10 years ago from the same program that the students are going through right now.” The event featured the introduction of all of the Communication Arts faculty, as well as the alumni, in each of the respective fields of broadcasting, journalism, public relations, and theater.

Mallard then shared a few words of wisdom with the audience from her own experience before dividing the students into “Breakout” groups. In each group, students attended a special seminar with alumni in their top two fields of interest and had a chance to ask questions and discuss various issues with the alumni.

“I think it is really great to get to talk to people who have only been out of college for a few years, but are working in the same field that I want to get into,” said sophomore Patrick Compau, a broadcasting major. “We were able to hear both the good and the bad sides of day-to-day life on the job.”

Kelli Ross (2000), business editor at the Jackson Sun, and Sarah Aldridge McNeece ('98), an assistant editor at CCM Magazine share their wisdom with Journalism students.

The first “Wisdom From the Trenches” event was held during Homecoming four years ago. According to Mallard, this year’s event was so successful that there is a strong possibility of making it an annual tradition.

"Every year at Homecoming we do something special for our Communication Arts alumni such as having a dinner and a game show or something creative,” explained Mallard. “Wisdom From the Trenches is a great way of getting former Union students involved in the lives of our current students and teaching them about their fields of interest from a first hand perspective.”

“My favorite part was listening to Jennifer Coleman,” said senior Julie Dodson, a journalism major. “I had an opportunity to do a month-long public relations internship with her at the Memphis zoo during January. It was really great to see how some of the work and research that I did then is being implemented now. As a journalism major, I was excited to learn how interrelated many of these fields are. I learned just how important my writing skills will be after I graduate,” said Dodson.

Sarah Aldridge McNeece, who now works as an assistant editor for CCM, a contemporary Christian music magazine, encouraged students to work hard at their jobs and do their very best.

“I know it sounds simple but you would be amazed at how many people get lazy on the job,” McNeece told the students. “If you work hard at what you do and give it your all, people will notice that.”

By Davie Moore,
Class of 2002

Media contact: Sara B. Horn, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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