Author: Cindy Stewart

Letter from Ken Lachlan, Department Head

Kenneth LachlanWelcome to the Department of Communication! Despite the challenges presented by COVID, we have had another great year in the department. Our undergraduate program continues to grow in both popularity and visibility on campus, and we now serve over 900 majors. We continue to focus on both theory and applied coursework, and our internship program now enrolls over 100 students annually. This emphasis on merging theory and application is paying off for our graduates, as recent data from the Center for Career Development suggests that 90% of our alumni are appropriately employed within a year of graduation, and gravitate toward career tracks in marketing, media, operations, business development, sales, and human resources. Our talented graduate students continue to play a major role in the department and have recently secured tenure-track faculty positions at universities such as Louisville, Missouri, Cal Poly, West Chester, and UNLV, to name just a few. I am exceedingly proud of both our faculty and our students, who have weathered the uncertainty of migrating instruction to online with great resilience and an overwhelmingly positive attitude. It truly has been a team effort.

We are very proud of all we do here in Communication, but we could use your help. Due to cuts in state funding, we were already looking at budget reductions in 2021. Now with the added uncertainty of the COVID pandemic, we are more reliant than ever on alumni contributions to continue providing the quality academic experience our students deserve. For example, the software that we use to teach social media network analysis costs $250 per year, per lab desktop. Our production courses are reliant on aging cameras that will costs thousands to replace, while our Lambda Pi Eta members pay out of their own pockets to travel to conferences and network with employers.

Please consider donating. No amount is too large or too small, and your tax-deductible contribution will help ensure that we can continue to provide an intellectually fulfilling and professionally advantageous degree to generations of future Huskies.

Yours Sincerely,
Ken Lachlan
Professor and Department Head

Behind the Scenes: COMMotion Pictures Film Screening

The UConn Department of Communication’s annual student film screening has become one of the department’s most popular events. Hundreds of students, family members, friends and alumni gather together in the Hartford Spotlight Theatre and watch student films on the big screen. Students in multimedia production courses have the opportunity to produce, film and edit their own short films. At the end of the semester, some of the best films make their way to the big screen for everyone to view. Though the red carpet and the flashing lights of the cameras certainly show the glamorous side of film, the process of creating them takes dedication and a lot of hard work.  A film team from the 2019 film screening gave some behind the scenes insight into what it takes to create a screening-worthy film.

Lil Doc was created by James Brockett, Taijek Mikel, Aaron Lorenzo, Gilbert Owens and Michael Sampson, who were all students in the COMM Advanced Digital Production course. The group created a 10 minute documentary that featured Connecticut rappers and their music. Each member of the film crew expressed an interest in rap, and they knew they wanted to incorporate it into their project. They found the stories of local rappers to be compelling because they all had unique struggles to overcome. Between the creation of music, local rivalries and the battle to be accepted in society, the film team captured interesting and heartfelt stories from each of the rappers featured. 

The students connected with the rappers and traveled to meet with them. They took trips all over the state, lugging gear in the rain and hoping to get the shots they needed to tell the story that they were looking for. Though some shoots were more successful than others, they were able to edit together a film that portrayed the troubles, successes and the personalities of Connecticut rappers. 

After all of this hard work, the Lil Doc team submitted their film to be considered at the Department of Communication’s annual film screening. Not only was their film selected, but it won the audience choice award. Both the film crew and the rappers received the recognition that they worked so hard for. The group members expressed their gratitude towards the Department of Communication for giving them an opportunity to create such a meaningful project. 

The 2020 COMMotion Pictures screening was hosted over a live YouTube stream so the audience could experience the same excitement while social distancing. You can watch a recording of this year’s screening at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnmqhFNw6Xk&t=33s. Professors Sara and Steve Stifano hosted the screening and named Peaches as the 2020 first place student film. Peaches is a short narrative horror film that left the entire audience with nightmares. Congratulations to all 2020 COMMotion pictures filmmakers, and thank you for another entertaining film screening.

To view the Lil Doc film, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=ID57BT_2Xx8

Undergraduates in the Industry: Jeremy Karew

Every semester, students take their passion for communication to the industry by interning for various companies and organizations. Over the years, students in the Department of Communication have had the opportunity to be a part of prestigious intern programs throughout the country. Jeremy Karew, a 2020 graduate of the graduate of UConn and a Communication major held a particularly interesting internship that prepared him for life after college.

During his time as an undergraduate student, Jeremy worked for Bayer AG, U.S. Pharmaceutical as a Media Relations Intern. In this role he was responsible for creating pitches to media outlets about Bayer’s actions, which were sent to large publications like the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. While creating these pitches, he also contributed to the creation of communications on behalf of executives, the production of an internal town hall, and stakeholder mapping. 

Jeremy stated that this hands on experience “helped me as a professional as this was my first full time position and I learned how to manage my time effectively by keeping up with deadlines and assignments. Also, it gave me the opportunity to present a stakeholder mapping project to the marketing team, which helped my presentation skills greatly.” Learning in this environment supplemented the skills that he was learning in class, such as internal and external public relations.

In the future, Jeremy hopes to join a law firm in Boston in a case assistant or junior paralegal role. This internship prepared him for what it’s like to work in a fast moving, competitive industry. It taught him how to manage deadlines, meet assignments, and to go above and beyond a tasks’ basic assignments. Like many of his classmates, he found that applying what he learned at UConn in the workplace can help build the skills necessary to succeed early in his career. 

To learn more about Jeremy’s experience, you can connect with him on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeremy-k-66a370106/. To advertise your company’s internship opportunities to undergraduate students at UConn, reach out to undergraduate advisor Joel Nebres at jose.nebres@uconn.edu.

Alumni Spotlight: Alyssa Davanzo (CLAS ’15)

The Department of Communication prides itself in providing students with the skills they need to succeed in all of their career opportunities in the future. There are countless alumni pursuing innovative and meaningful careers, and some of those alumni stay closely connected with the department. Alyssa Davanzo, Class of 2015, pursued a career in corporate communications post-graduation, and she has since used her knowledge to work with current undergraduate students to prepare them for their future careers.

Alyssa is currently a Corporate Communications Specialist at the Henkel Corporation in Stamford, CT. After joining the team in 2017, she worked hard to transition into her current role. During her time working for Henkel she has contributed a wide variety of content such as articles, photography, videos and other communication assets to the organization. 

Before joining the Henkel team, Alyssa started her career in the television industry while working for NBC Universal. Within her time at NBC, she worked in production roles for The Maury Show, Crazy Talk and The Steve Wilkos Show. After working for the television industry for 2 years, she transitioned to the consumer packaged goods industry and has continued to excel and learn at Henkel.

After graduating from the UConn Department of Communication and building her career goals throughout all of the positions she’s held, she advised those who are early on in their careers to focus on themselves rather than comparing their journeys to other’s. “After graduation, your friends will be going in all different directions – Some will be going straight to grad school, others will jump into a full-time job, and a few might take some time to figure out their next steps.  There’s no ‘right’ way to start your career.  Do what makes the most sense for you,” advised Davanzo.

Alyssa has stayed connected with her UConn network throughout the years and pointed out the importance of maintaining UConn connections, “More often than not, there are at least a handful of UConn alumni working at every company. Use LinkedIn as a tool to connect with former UConn students – you already have something in common!”

Alyssa is one of the many alumni that makes the UConn Department of Communication proud by utilizing her communication skills to succeed in her career. To learn more about her journey with communication or connect with Alyssa, reach out via LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alyssadavanzo/

COMM Speaker Series: Dr. Felicia Pratto

Join us for the Department of Communication Speakers Series lecturer, Dr. Felicia Pratto for her talk: "Over-Attending and Under-Attending to Race and Gender: Experiments on Norms About Social Categories and Communication"

The Communication Speaker Series presents Dr. Felicia Pratto from UConn's Department of Psychological Sciences. Her talk will take place on Thursday, October 10th at 12:30-1:45 p.m. in Arjona 225.

Felicia Pratto earned her BS in Psychology from Carnegie-Mellon University in 1983. She was in the
social/personality program at NYU from 1984-1988 where she earned her MA and PhD by studying automatic
processes, especially those relevant to self-conceptions and person perception. On unpaid post-docs she
continued to examine automatic attention biases (UC Berkeley), and expanded her research on social bias to
address group-based inequality (UCLA). She served on the faculty at the Psychology Department of Stanford
University from 1990 to 1997, and began in the University of Connecticut Psychology Department in January,
1998. In addition to research on social cognition, she co-authored social dominance theory with Jim Sidanius
(e.g., Sidanius & Pratto, 1999) and has since branched into more areas of political psychology. She recently coauthored
Power Basis Theory. She has served as member of Executive Committees, and Program Chair for the
Society of Experimental Social Psychology and the International Society for Political Psychology, and in other
capacities, the latter of which she is now the president elect.

Prof. Shardé Davis receives AAUW Fellowship

Assistant Professor of Communication Shardé Davis is the 2018-19 recipient of the American Fellowship for Postdoctoral Research Leave awarded by the American Association for University Women (AAUW). The primary purpose of the Postdoctoral Research Leave Fellowship is to increase the number of women in tenure-track faculty positions and to promote equality for women in higher education. This fellowship is designed to assist the candidate in obtaining tenure and further promotions by enabling her to spend a year pursuing independent research.