Author: Ashley Brannan

COMM Department Student Projects Fall 2017

In the fall of 2017, students in Communications courses devoted their semesters to creating projects, films, and photo essays that the Department of Communication is proud to present. Featured below are projects from students of The Process of Communication (COMM 1000), Fundamentals of Digital Production (COMM 2940), and Persuasion (COMM 3100).


The Process of Communication

A course taught by Professor Stephen Stifano

COMM 1000-  A study of modern communication theories and principles where students understand how people affect and are affected by others through communication.


This short film expresses the importance of equality for all people.


Fundamentals of Digital Production

A course taught by Professor Stephen Stifano and Adam Rainear

COMM 2940- Students develop fundamentals associated with the production of digital video, audio, and images to communicate with various audiences by rotating through various roles of pre-production, production, and post-production processes in the creation of multimedia projects.

This film shows a couple’s journey into making their house a home.


This sci-fi short film about a woman trapped in her own home is a must-watch thriller.



A course taught by Thomas Meade, Kimberly Embacher, and Matthew Morse

COMM 3100- Students are introduced to theories of attitude formation, change and reinforcement. Research is used to evaluate past and present models of persuasion through the creation of their own social campaign.

UConn Shot was a campaign designed to promote the free flu shot services that are on and around campus.

UConn Sober Rides is a student campaign that connected UConn students with sober drivers to reduce the amount of drunk driving.


Like these videos? Follow us on social media to keep up with the latest details about this semester’s Digital Projects Screening taking place later on in the semester.

2018 CSCH Encore Grant Recipient Rory McGloin

After a lot of hard work on proposals, Professor Rory McGloin was awarded with the Collaboratory on School and Child Health 2018 Encore Grant for his latest project, “Gearing up! Using Exergaming to Impact Health in Overweight Children”. Professor McGloin along with Department of Kinesiology and Department of Educational Psychology’s Jaci VanHeest will be conducting research on Children and their attitudes towards exercise.


McGloin and VanHeest will be conducting a 10 week study where they will give children in schools access to exergaming bikes to see if it will increase their physical activity throughout the course of the study, as well as an increase in self-efficacy towards physical fitness. McGloin hypothesizes that exergames will help engage students in a unique way because it mimics the immersiveness of a video game.


McGloin and VanHeest plan on using the grant to purchase an exergaming bike which will be used to set up a remote lab location in a local school system. Students will receive Amazon gift cards for participating to encourage the continuation of participation. McGloin also stated that part of the grant will be set aside to hire a motivated and responsible student to assist in running the lab.


Professor McGloin deems this research important because obesity continues to be a major issue in society, and the cause for concern increases as time spent engaging in physical activity is diminishing. In the school systems, technology is displacing time spent being active at an alarming rate. The researchers believe that doing this long-term intervention will allow them to see how they can respond to the novelty of the device, and if it has a future within school programs.


When asked about his interest in the research, McGloin stated that it’s important to determine  the effects of these new technologies and many of the opportunities that they may or may not provide to users. He finds it very rewarding to work on research that can ultimately improve someone’s lifestyle and make a difference in their lives. This study is a great way to get people to ask themselves about the effects media has on them.


The study will be taking place over the course of the next year. After the study, the researchers hope to present their findings with members of the local community to raise awareness for children who are obese, or at risk, and may need help achieving their daily activity goals.

Martin Horn Scholarship Recipient Meghan O’Neil

The Department of Communication annually selects one outstanding undergraduate student to be awarded with the Martin Horn Scholarship. Since achieving great success in marketing communications, alumnus Martin Horn has made several generous donations to the UConn Department of Communication, from which the scholarship is awarded. The 2017-2018 recipient is Meghan O’Niel.

Meghan is a Senior at the University. She is double majoring in Sociology and Communication with a minor in Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies (WGSS). She originally entered UConn as a sociology major, but after taking The Process of Communication (COMM 1000) as a sophomore, Professor Stifano and Graduate Assistant Kimberly Embacher inspired her to pursue a degree in communication. She found communications to be an interesting field to venture in to because it’s valuable to many sectors in her personal and professional life.

Through her undergraduate courses she learned what it takes to be a communications professional. Meghan is currently the UConn Club Sports Social Media Coordinator. This being her first position in the field of communication, it is a great learning experience for her and it’s allowing her to apply the skills that she’s learned thus far to this job.

After she graduates, she plans on continuing her education by attending graduate school. She has applied to multiple programs in the U.K., and has already been accepted to one. She’s incredibly passionate about gender equality and is looking to pursue a Masters Degree in an area related to WGSS.

This scholarship has already helped Meghan pursue her career goals. Not only did receiving this award give her the extra boost of confidence that she needed, it also allowed her to be able to afford to apply to all of the schools that she was interested in. 

In her time at UConn she has found that knowing how to communicate with others is an invaluable skill across all areas of life. Professionally she feels more confident when working in teams because of her undergraduate courses. She has also found that being a Communication major has prepared her for career opportunities in many different sectors, which gives her confidence knowing that she has freedom to find a career that she will love.

UConn’s Day of Metanoia

Rory McGloin, assistant professor of communication, speaks during a metanoia session on racial stereotypes in television sitcoms at Konover Auditorim on Nov. 8, 2017. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

To continue the tradition of metanoia, the UConn Community declared Wednesday, November 8th as a day of “reflection, learning, sharing, and transformation focused on confronting racism in our university, our state, and our nation”. Recent events such as Charlottesville have brought to light the racism, anti-semitism, islamophobia, nativism, and colonialism that still exists in America. As the University recognizes this, the Department of Communication would like to contribute insight on the role of communication in battling racism.


Communication Professor Shardé Davis explains the importance of this day of metanoia as an open space where people can talk and learn about the topic at hand. Susan Herbst stated that, “racism is not a problem to be solved, but a fundamental part of our history and contemporary society for which we must take responsibility”. Professor Davis exclaimed that it becomes problematic when people deem our society as a post-racial society, and act as if racism doesn’t exist. The Metanoia events gave many opportunities to students, faculty and staff to call attention to an issue in order to agree upon its existence.


Professors Rory McGloin and John Christensen held a seminar to discuss racial stereotypes in sitcoms. The seminar created an open discussion about the way that minorities are portrayed in media and the effects of the stereotypes that are present. Media makes up a large portion of the field of communication. This seminar allowed for students, faculty members, and community members to call to action the need for change in the industry and ways that change could occur.


There are many different ways to communicate about racism, but below are a few examples that Professor Davis suggested as the campus combats racism even after the designated day of metanoia.

Thinking before you speak- Often times when people use racial microaggressions or stereotypes, it’s because they don’t fully think about their words before they say them. In order to prevent this from happening, evaluate what you’re going to say before you say it.


Active Listening- When talking about issues such as racism, many people are so set on their own views that they speak more than they listen. Active listening is important because it allows people to understand other perspectives and it opens up opportunity for people to learn more about the subject.


Be open to learning- If people are open to learning, they also open themselves up to change. If people take it upon themselves to learn about  racism by searching for sources to learn more about it, such as on campus cultural centers, they open themselves up to opportunities to grow and educate themselves and others on ways to combat racism.


The Department of Communication embraces diversity, and its members constantly devote themselves to combating prejudice. The day of metanoia was a fantastic opportunity for people to come together and speak about such an important topic, but we encourage you to battle racism every day of the year.

Communication Society Networking Opportunities

Post written by Carina Zamudio, Communication Society Member

On October 25, the University of Connecticut Communication Society attended an exclusive networking opportunity with Gaffney Bennett, a public relations firm in New Britain, Connecticut. Gaffney Bennett Public Relations (GBPR) focuses on strategic communications services to over 84 clients including Connecticare, Eversource Energy, and NBC Universal. Their mission is to “help clients tell their stories” through detailed communication campaigns that will reach the client’s target audience. This is done by working with clients on improving media relations, crisis communications and management, market entry campaigns, video content creation, issue management, and social media platforms.

The event was a business casual luncheon in which Comm Society students were able to get a behind-the-scenes look at how public relations firms function. After the Comm Society students were seated, five staff member representatives spoke about their post graduate experiences that brought them to the positions they hold today. The visiting members of GBPR highlighted that all of their different career paths were attainable under the umbrella of a communications degree. Each person’s experience gave the students a glimpse into what working in public relations can offer from internship, event planning, journalism, agency, and corporate lenses.

With nine years of experience in the field of public relations, Justin May, the Vice President of GBPR, led most of the discussion. As a graduate from the University of Connecticut, May uses his writing skills to market his communications campaigns to the wide range of clients that GBPR acquires. Other employees of GBPR informed the Comm Society about their positions, and how their careers have led them to have different experiences as PR professionals. All of these diverse backgrounds gave Comm Society members a chance to see the different roles an employee in public relations can have.  

After learning about some of the GBPR staff, each member of Communications Society had the opportunity to discuss their experiences with communications and their future aspirations in the field. This was followed by a Q&A panel in which students could ask questions about GBPR or public relations as a whole. Before leaving GBPR the students and staff were able to exchange brief dialogue and express thanks for the interest and opportunity to network.

Networking is important, not only for internships and jobs, but also for gaining valuable insight towards what others in the field have experienced. For Comm Society, being able to visit a public relations firm provided them with exposure to the real world that is unparalleled in the classroom. Not only were they able to gain some insight on what a public relations firm does, but they were able to make connections along the way. Communications Society extends its thanks to Gaffney Bennett Public Relations for opening its doors to eager students hoping to influence the field in the near future.

For more information about the UConn Communication Society, visit their website or email

COMM Student Feature – Julie Pyrcz

Every year the Department of Communication is astounded by the great accomplishments of the undergraduate students, many of whom are part of the UConn Communication Society. The Comm Society is an organization that allows students interested in Communication to network, explore future opportunities, and learn more about the subject as a whole. This year, the Comm Society is being lead by president Julie Pyrcz.

Julie is an outstanding member of the Communication Society, as well as a well-rounded student. She decided upon becoming a comm major because she loves listening and talking to people, and she also enjoys writing. Post graduation, Julie hopes to work in corporate communications, potentially in the area of Corporate Social Responsibility. She stated that she doesn’t know where she’ll end up, but her education from the Department of Communication has prepared her to excel in any opportunity that comes her way!

Over the course of her years at UConn, she stated that her favorite class this far has been Interpersonal Communication (COMM 3200) with Professor Amanda Denes. As one of her first upper level courses, she found it interesting because she learned an abundance of things that she could apply to how she communicates in her everyday interactions. Along with Professor Denes, she admires Professor Rory McGloin and Professor Shardé Davis. Julie stated that after working closely with Professor McGloin in the Comm Society, she has found that he truly cares about his students, and wants them to succeed both in and out of the classroom. She also stated that Professor Davis brings unparalleled enthusiasm to class every single day and never fails to get her students excited about and interested in a topic.

Outside of the classroom, Julie has gained a lot of her experience through internships. She received her first internship during her freshman year where she ran an ice cream shop’s social media. That lead her to a bigger role as an intern with Pratt & Whitney. For the past ten months she has been creating social media content, producing videos, planning events, writing articles and developing strategic communication campaigns for P&W. Julie feels that her internship experience thus far has been invaluable to her journey into becoming a seasoned communication professional, and she has learned more than she ever thought she could in the process.

Julie is one of the many students the Department of Communications feels goes above and beyond what is asked of them to excel as communication professionals. She strives to make COMM Society “a great resource for students to learn more about communications careers and network with other communication students. This club is a great opportunity to build your network and communication skills to prepare you for after graduation.” Her devotion to the Communication Society and internship shows that she has what it takes to succeed post graduation.


For more information about the Comm Society, please visit:

Communication is a Necessary Skill For All

Hundreds of students, all with different majors and interests, file into lecture halls during the week to attend The Process of Communication (COMM 1000). For some students this class is their first step into a career in the field of communication, and for others it is a course where they learn the skills they need to succeed in business, engineering, and any other career path they may choose to pursue.

The objective of this course is to show students the role of human communication and its influence in everyday life while familiarizing them with both verbal and nonverbal communication across interpersonal, media, and new technology formats. The course is unique because it allows students to learn through creative projects such as a photography project, as well as the creation of a 15 second short film. For the photography project he asks students to take pictures that represent their experience as a UConn student. The 15 second film project allows students that are accustomed to a large lecture hall to get in small groups and create a narrative in a 15 second video. The projects allow students to apply what they have learned about communication through storytelling.

The intro course is designed for students of every major. Course supervisor Stephen Stifano P.h.D. stated that, “If there’s one skill that will improve your prospects in any other field, it is being able to communicate effectively with a variety of people in a variety of contexts”. Although only an introductory course, the COMM 1000 curriculum goes above and beyond the base information of the subject. It teaches people how to apply communication to their lives and allows them to see where effective communication will bring them in the future. Humans are constantly communicating, and the basis to succeeding in any job is effective communication skills. Professor Stifano combines theory with tasks that students need to do every day, whether it be properly writing emails, or how to present yourself in a positive light online. So much of what is studied in communication applies to the everyday actions of a college student. Stifano strives to have every student realize that there is more to their day to day interactions than it seems on the surface, and he hopes that the students will be more mindful of the messages that people provide them with, which is critical to the everyday world.

This course is not only recognized in the department as an inspiring and important course, during the 2016-2017 school year, COMM 1000 won the NCA Basic Course Program of Distinction award. This award is given to courses that serve as best practice models for other departments when designing their basic courses. In the future, Stifano stated that the course will be adapted to allow students to continue to be challenged as the course gets increasingly focused on media and technology as they infiltrate our everyday interactions.


Below are video projects that were created by COMM 1000 students:


COMM Student Feature – Eliza Kanner

Millions of Americans tuned in early September to watch an American tradition: the Miss America Pageant. This year the Department of Communication watched excitedly as UConn Communications major Eliza Kanner took the stage as Miss Connecticut.


As a senior, Eliza has been devoted to the Department of Communication for the past three years. She stated that upon entering college, she was unaware of which career path she wanted to go down. After getting involved with the Miss America Organization, she found herself learning public speaking skills, effective brand management, and gaining media, interpersonal, and mass communication skills. Her journey with Miss America pointed her in the direction of the communications field where she began to explore opportunities within the COMM Department.


Eliza expressed that her favorite COMM class so far has been Computer Mediated Communication (COMM 4660W) with Professor Christensen. She found this class particularly interesting because computer mediated communication research is still fairly new and constantly evolving. The constant change and evolution of the study of communication has really sparked her interest over the course of her time at UConn. While taking COMM 4660W, she researched government officials on social media and its effects on society, where she was able to look at the benefits and setbacks of government officials on social media platforms. She stated that Professor Christensen has become a great mentor for her when it comes to her future career as well as her role in Miss America. She stated that since the beginning of the semester he emphasized that supporting students with their future was a priority of his. With help from COMM Advisor Joel Nebres, they created a program allowing for Eliza to earn credit for her role as Miss Connecticut.

Eliza will now be fulfilling her duties not only as Miss Connecticut, but as a UConn Senior as well. In her role as Miss Connecticut, she will be making public appearances to represent the Miss America Organization as well as the state of Connecticut. Along with her duties as Miss Connecticut, she’ll be continuing her studies as a UConn Husky. To keep up with Eliza on her journey as Miss Connecticut, you can follow her on Facebook (@MissAmericaCT), Instagram (@missamericact), and Twitter (@MissAmericaCT).

The Department of Communication is proud to have students like Eliza, who strive to take their degrees above and beyond what is asked of them. The field of communication is broad, but once students use their degrees to enhance their passions, they accomplish great things.

Professor Denes Battles Hate Speech With Research

As the new school year begins, members of the Department of Communication are undergoing exciting new research studies. Associate Professor Amanda Denes was just awarded a Waterhouse Family Institute (WFI) grant which will allow her to design and conduct a new research study on campus. WFI is a communication research institute, housed within Villanova University, where it funds research projects that focus on interconnections between communication and social change. Not only did Professor Denes receive the grant, but she received the largest single grant that WFI has ever provided.


Professor Denes, along with her main collaborator at the University of Washington, John Crowley P.h.D., will be studying the effects of positive affirmation towards sexual minorities who have been affected by hate speech. The study will ask members of the LGBQ community to share an experience that they have had with hate speech with their friends. The friends will then be trained to give good support or no support to their friend. The researches will be measuring physical stress by observing hormones to see whether or not communication intervention from friends can dampen stress. Professor Denes has received support from the UConn Rainbow Center, and she is hoping to provide information about how to communicate effectively with victims of hate speech.


Professor Denes feels that this is an important issue to be studying because hate speech is on the rise, and there’s a lot of negative sentiment towards many groups including the LGBQ community. There are many allies to this community that want to know how to be better allies, and what they as a community can do to help. There are also potential health benefits to this study, as stress can cause people to become sick. The study seeks to find ways to improve the mental and physical health of those being affected by hate speech by teaching allies how to communicate with them in an affirming way.


Currently, Professor Denes is designing the study and awaiting approval  in order to start collecting data in the spring. Additionally, she will be looking for lab students to assist with her research.. If you are interested, email Professor Denes at


A Letter to the Class of 2017

Congratulations to the graduating Class of 2017! We have been lucky to teach you, learn from you, and grow with you as scholars and fellow Huskies. Over the past four years you’ve developed the skills you need to take this next step. The Department of Communication is excited to watch you thrive as individuals and professionals. After watching you grow over the past four years, professors from the department would like to share a few words of encouragement with you:

photo of Sharde Davis


“Think outside of the box, live in the moment, always check your entitlement (people don’t owe you anything!), and remain humble.” – Professor Shardé Davis



Rory McGloin

“Be confident in what you have learned, but seek humility in your day to day adventures. Remember that learning is a never-ending and on-going process so utilize the knowledge you have gained in regards to how you learn and attempt to apply those skills every day. Seek value from your human interactions and try to adopt the best attributes and characteristics of those individuals whom you respect and look up to.” – Professor Rory McGloin

Kathryn D'Antonio


“Be your own advocate.” – Advisor Katie D’Antonio


Kirstie Farrar


“Don’t be afraid to work hard take risks and try new things. Don’t take the easy way out.  This pairs nicely with my favorite quote from Bruce Lee: ‘Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.’” – Professor Kirstie Cope-Farrar


Steve Stifano

“Keep an open mind about the kinds of positions you consider for employment.  Your training and experience in Communication makes you a very flexible professional with something to offer to a LOT of fields. Consider compiling the projects you’ve done into a digital portfolio that you can put online as a supplement to your résumé.  And most of all, keep your head up – the careers of many of us were nonlinear, with several twists and turns that seemed quite random in the moment, but quite necessary when looking back in time.” – Professor Stephen Stifano


Mark Hamilton

“In the immortal words of Buckaroo Banzai, Remember: no matter where you go… there you are.’” – Professor Mark Hamilton



As you take this next step with confidence, always remember: students today, Huskies forever. Best of luck, Class of 2017!