Month: April 2018

People of Color & Interpersonal Communication

As the Spring 2018 semester began, Communication students were buzzing about the new courses that had been added to the course catalog. One of the new courses, People of Color and Interpersonal Communication (COMM 4222) taught by Professor Shardè Davis, has been particularly popular amongst students.

The objectives of this course are to observe the impact of race, ethnicity, and culture on interpersonal interactions and survey key theories and empirical works of past and current race relations in the U.S., negotiation of identity, and ways identity is communicated in various personal relationships. Professor Davis teaches students about the communication theories that may be relevant to many people of color that are not thoroughly covered in any other course within the university.

Students learn through many different personal experiences throughout the course. For example, students complete a project where they observe race relations in a public place on campus, and they also partake in a privilege walk to understand the different intersecting forms of identity and oppression. Students are able to gain knowledge from one another through this experiential method of learning. The classroom cultivates meaningful and productive conversation about the relations between communication and race.

Professor Davis hopes that students are able to learn theories and language that will help them understand the experiences that they go through in their lives. This class builds upon the interpersonal communication courses that students have already taken while intertwining aspects of diversity in communication. People never stop communicating, and this course teaches students how to communicate more effectively with a more diverse population.

Professor Davis stressed the importance of keeping the course relevant. Race relations in America and the world are always changing, and because of that, so will class discussions and projects. She emphasized the need to make the class relevant to the world around us and the experiences that her students are going through.

Students are thrilled to have a course like this at the university, and many of them can’t stop talking about their experiences with the course. A current student stated, “I like this course because I’m able to hear different perspectives on life and how their experiences shaped those perspectives. I would describe the class as a place where a group of students are able to have meaningful and insightful conversations about topics that our society has deemed as taboo. Dr. Davis is a great professor that has taught me valuable life lessons that I can use outside the classroom to be not only a better member of society but more importantly, a better person overall”.

The course will be offered online in the Summer of 2018 for any interested students. For any questions about the course or Dr. Davis’ research, you can email her at

From the Court to Class – WBB Player Kia Nurse’s Senior Thesis

Senior Communication student and UConn Women’s Basketball player Kia Nurse is finishing up her collaboration with East Hartford Middle School for her thesis about young female athletes. Despite her busy practice schedule, Kia has been meeting with a group of students from East Hartford Middle School to work on their communication, leadership and teamwork skills.

Kia’s goal for the project was to create a program where young female athletes could understand the benefits of sports other than just winning and losing. “A lot of research shows girls quit sports once they get to high school, they lose confidence in it, it’s not cool anymore, but there’s so many benefits. The team work, the communication, the discipline that you learn through it. That’s why you have to keep playing” stated Kia.

She has enjoyed her time working with these students and she plans on continuing to stay a part of their lives in the future. She hopes that her students learn that, “there’s always going to be someone in the world that’s bigger, faster, stronger, more talented than you. But if you can always work hard in everything that life puts in front of you, it’s noticed more”.

COMM Society’s 5th Annual Public Speaking Competition

Every year for the past 5 years, the Communication Society has hosted their Annual Public Speaking Competition. Students from all majors and backgrounds audition to win the title of “UConn’s Best Public Speaker”. The 2018 competition is just around the corner, taking place on the evening of April 9th.

“The competition is a way for UConn students to have a strong opinion or idea, and be able to express it while providing evidence to support their opinion” says Public Speaking Competition Chair Jessica Devitto. Students will be suiting up and practicing their public speaking techniques that they’ve learned throughout their time as an undergraduate student. The contest features 5 excited students that will be judged by three esteemed judges. The judges this year are the Comm Department’s Professor Amanda Denes, WFSB-TV and Connecticut’s CBS affiliate Caitlin Nuclo, and NBC Connecticut’s political reporter Max Reiss.

Year after year, the COMM Society searches for participants with “previous public speaking experience, charisma and an overall confidence that will light up the stage” says Devitto. Any undergraduate student is welcome to audition, which diversifies the participants and brings interesting perspectives to the event. This year’s topic is “What impact is social media having on our personal relationships?”. Each contestant will have the opportunity to speak out about whether or not they feel social media is having a positive or negative influence on people’s personal relationships through multiple rounds.

The competition is composed of 3 different rounds. The first round consists of prepared speaking, where each contestant will deliver their take on the subject in under 5 minutes. During the second round, contestants will be asked a short question by the judges based on their first speech, and they will have 2 minutes to give a response to the question. In the third and final round, contestants will be presented with an impromptu topic by the host, and the contestants will be given 15 minutes to formulate their 4 minute response. At the end of the third round, the judges will award one contestant as UConn’s best public speaker, and they will distribute $400 in awards.

Devitto stated, “This event is heavily anticipated by the members of the Communication Society because we get to see their months of hard work pay off. We also love attending because it is a way to gather the COMM community together to recognize accomplishments while building friendships”. Along with the rest of the Communication Society, Devitto has spent months working to make the event run smoothly.

Overall the COMM Society sees this as an opportunity for students to have their thoughts and ideas heard by people of different ages, races, and genders. It allows for contestants to get joy out of knowing they did something they might never have thought about doing before. As the competition rapidly approaches, we’re looking forward to being blown away by the contestants for the 5th year in a row, and we hope to see many familiar faces in the crowd.


Event details:

Monday April 9, 6-8pm, Student Union Theater

Questions? Contact Jessica Devitto at