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Communication Arts TEDxFIU Club Hosts Watch Party for All FIU Students

The TEDxFIU Club hosted a TEDxFIU Watch Party for all FIU students on Thursday, November 13 during the TEDxFIU event. Students ate pizza and chips while watching FIU students, faculty, and alumni share their stories. There were moments of silence, laughter, and appreciation during the watch party as students reflected on each speaker’s story. Listening to the speakers, club members learned how to write a story, what person-centered aging looks like, how success can be measured by how much you give, and how failure after failure can add up to incredible success. The watch party brought together students from a wide range of disciplines, all sharing an interest in the art of storytelling and inspiring and connecting with others. Club president Gisela Valencia remarked: “The key word is ‘talk’; TED and TEDxFIU are not about lecturing or grandstanding. The best TED talks make you forget everything but the speaker and his or her story.”

TEDxFIU is a club for all FIU student communicators who want to develop their big ideas or just improve their public speaking skills within the format of a “TED talk.” Students can join with other students to share ideas, discuss their favorite TED videos, and examine what works – and what doesn’t – in a TED talk. The student organization is advised by Communication Arts faculty member, Nurhayat Bilge, who shares information on presentation and delivery techniques and arranges opportunities for students to practice on the big stage. Besides TEDxFIU talks, the club also engages in various activities, such as speech viewings and analysis, speech competitions, collaborations with other campus communicators, and practicing different types of speech, all of which help members become more effective public speakers and public speech consumers.

For more information, email tedxclub@fiu.edu or like us on Facebook.

Photo: L to R: Club members Daniel Gil, Gisela Valencia, Aisha Hassan, and Thomas Condon


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Desrayaud Publishes Research on Conflict Style



Nathalie Desrayaud, PhD, Visiting Instructor in Communication Arts, is second author of the article “Deciding to Use Organizational Grievance Processes: Does Conflict Style Matter?” The research report appears in the November 2014 issue of the national, academic journal Management Communication Quarterly, published by Sage in Thousand Oaks, CA. The study focused on whether college students’ conflict styles are associated with their decision to work with university ombuds in conflicts with professors.

Desrayaud’s research examines the role of communication in forming and maintaining conflict cultures within organizations. In this article, she explores how organizational members’ personal differences impact their approaches to finding solutions and resolving conflict. Desrayaud (PhD, Purdue University) joined the FIU faculty in August 2013 after serving on the Missouri State University faculty. She teaches a slate of FIU courses including Gender & Communication, Intercultural Communication, Organizational Change, and Organizational Communication.

Management Communication Quarterly is the top journal focused exclusively on organizational communication, according to the 2013 Journal Citation Reports. MCQ is a national, peer-reviewed journal that “publishes conceptually rigorous, empirically-driven, and practice-relevant research from across the organizational and management communication fields” according to the SAGE website. Dr. Desrayaud article is available at http://mcq.sagepub.com/content/28/4/561.full.pdf+html.

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Five Communication Arts Faculty Members Present at Florida Convention

fca.logoOn October 17, five Communication Arts faculty members participated in a panel at the 84th annual meeting of the Florida Communication Association at the Holiday Inn Lake Buena Vista at the Walt Disney World Resort. Over 160 faculty members from around the state attended the conference. Five FIU Communication Arts faculty members spoke on the panel titled “Teaching the Blended Course: Using Online Pedagogy to Augment the Classroom Learning Environment.”

Daniel Blaeuer, Assistant Professor in Communication Arts, spoke on “Flipping the Class Room: Using Online Tools to Distribute Content to the Community and Students.” Blaeuer (PhD, University of South Florida) joined the FIU faculty in August 2011 after serving on the Barry University faculty. Blaeuer conducts research on communication surrounding community development and engagement. He teaches a slate of FIU courses including Artistic Expression, Communication Leadership, and Communication Theory.

Nurhayat Bilge, Assistant Professor in Communication Arts, presented “In and Out of the Class Room: How Online Tools Help Create a Sense of Class Room Community.” Bilge (PhD, Arizona State University, Tempe) joined the FIU faculty in August 2013 after serving on the Arizona State University, Phoenix faculty. Bilge conducts research on refugee communities’ communication patterns that sustain ethnic identity. She teaches two courses at FIU: Conflict Management and Intercultural Communication.

Nathalie Desrayaud, Visiting Instructor in Communication Arts, presented “Offloading Announcements and Opportunities to Online Venues: Tools for Sharing Information and Creating Spaces for Questions beyond the Classroom and E-mail Inbox.” Desrayaud (PhD, Purdue University) joined the FIU faculty in August 2013 after serving on the Missouri State University faculty. Desrayaud’s research examines the role of communication in forming and maintaining conflict cultures within organizations. She teaches a slate of FIU courses including Gender & Communication, Intercultural Communication, Organizational Change, and Organizational Communication.

Nicholas Temple, Assistant Professor in Communication Arts, spoke on “Minimizing Distraction: The Importance of Centralizing Learning Technologies into One Portal When It’s Possible, and Keeping It Simple When It’s Not.” Temple joined the FIU faculty in August 2012 after completing his PhD in Communication at the North Carolina State University. His research examines online rhetoric surrounding the US environmental movement. He teaches multiple FIU courses including Communication Ethics, Environmental Communication, Persuasion, Political Communication, and Rhetorical Theory.

Lynne M. Webb, Professor in Communication Arts, presented “Online-Only Textbooks: The Joys and Limitations.” Webb (PhD, University of Oregon) joined the FIU faculty in 2013 after serving on the University of Arkansas faculty. Webb’s research examines a variety of issues related to family communication as well as the use of social media in personal relationships. Webb teaches three FIU courses including Communication on Social Media, Conflict Management, and Interpersonal Communication.

According to its website, the purpose of the Florida Communication Association is to “coordinate the efforts of teachers, students, and others interested in advancing communication arts and sciences in the state of Florida.” At age 84, FCA is among the oldest state associations of communication scholars in the US. The Florida Communication association publishes two issues per year of the Florida Communication Journal. Its scholarly articles are indexed on Ebsco’s searchable data base.

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CommArts Helps Students Power Up for Interviews

Recently, Communication Arts Studio Coordinator Sarah Shoulak took the Studio to the Alpha Epsilon Delta pre-med honors society at FIU. At the student organization’s request, Shoulak led a workshop on Interview Skills the for the 20+ students. The one-hour workshop covered critical skills such as preparing for interviews, presenting a personal brand, and fielding unexpected questions. Shoulak combined research with practical application to provide students with ways to conquer their nerves and present their best selves. “Interviews are among the most high-stress communication events, and it helps to have a little science on your side,” said Shoulak. She taught attendees the “Superman Pose,” which is based on Harvard University researcher Amy Cuddy’s work with “power poses” to increase confidence and lower anxiety. The physical pose – legs apart, hands on hips, shoulders back and chest out – makes you bigger and ready for action. Striking the pose for just two minutes will biochemically prime the brain for power while simultaneously helping calm you down. “This will really help me feel more confident before I go into an interview,” said one student after learning the pose. Shoulak also helped participants prepare talking points that highlight their strengths, master the perfect handshake, and project confidence and interest through their body language, such as sitting forward on the chair and “leaning in” toward the interviewer. Mock interview sessions are offered at the CommArts Studio for all Communication Arts majors and those currently enrolled in Public Speaking or Communication Arts’ classes.

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FIU Debate Goes Global

On a recent evening, FIU Debate students sat down to talk with a group of college students on the other side of the world – Siberia, to be precise.

Facilitated by FIU Debate coach Travis “T.J.” Lakin and Elena Nuciforo, a faculty member in the Communication Arts Department, FIU student debaters Rodrigo Quirch, Alex Bornote, Daniel Tarasiuk, Roman Viveros, Juan Salamanca, Andrew Dias and Taylor Harris talked at length with Russian university students and professor Polina Dashinimaeva from Buryat State University in Ulan-Ude, a town that is the capital of Buryatia, located in Eastern Siberia in Russia.

The FIU debaters were surprised at how well the BSU students spoke English and were interested to find out what college life – and the weather – was like in Russia.  The nine BSU students – all studying foreign languages, including English, and planning to work as interpreters or teachers of English – reported that the weather in Ulan-Ude was a cool -5 degrees Celcius (23 degrees Farenheit) and that it had snowed heavily just two days before.  Dashinimaeva, the director of BSU’s Institute of Philology and Mass Communications, explained that college life lasts longer in Russia, with five years of coursework for a degree. She said the curriculum was prescribed for each major so students did not choose their specific classes once they selected a major.  Several of the BSU students said they had visited the U.S. during summer vacations or on work-travel programs. They talked about their majors, their social lives, and how busy they all were.

The Siberian students also had questions for the FIU students, and were surprised to hear that the temperature was a warm 86 degrees Farenheit in Miami. The BSU students explained that they are eager to learn more about both public speaking and debate, neither of which is taught directly in Russian academics.  The FIU Debate program offered to send some public speaking text books and to help the Russian students develop an understanding of debate with the opportunity to practice with the FIU team in upcoming transcontinental talks.

The Russian connection was made possible by Dr. Nuciforo, who is from Russia and attended BSU as an undergrad. She came to the U.S. to do her graduate work at the University of Massachusetts but has maintained contact with colleagues like Professor Dashinimaeva.  Nuciforo joined the Communication Arts faculty in the Fall and is delighted to be able to facilitate this connection between the FIU students and the students in Siberia. Nuciforo said, “a cultural exchange like this literally brings the worlds closer and allows students on both sides to develop their leadership qualities. It promotes mutual understanding that even though there are inevitable cultural differences between the two countries, there are a lot of things in common.”  She also enjoyed the chance to speak Russian and get a glimpse of home.

Debate coach Lakin also joined the Communication Arts faculty this Fall, coming from Michigan’s Ferris State University, where he was the Director of Forensics. Lakin says the FIU Debate team is thrilled to have this new technology available and they plan to make good use of it.  He agreed with Nuciforo’s point about intercultural communication making the world seem smaller, adding “this is an incredible opportunity for our students to connect with young people around the world and learn about their cultures and exchange ideas.  It is going to make them better students and better debaters.”

Not long after the first videoconference with Siberia, the FIU Debate members connected live with students in Caracas, Venezuela and they will also talk to students in Istanbul, Turkey this month.  The conversations with Russia, Turkey and Venezuela were a long time in the making.  In the Spring of 2013, Communication Arts’ faculty member Daniel Blaeuer and administrator Charlene Eberly teamed up to envision a way for the debate team to connect with debate students across the globe.  The debate team had recently moved into “worlds style” debate competitions and Blaeuer wanted to provide them with ways to experience other cultures and learn the communication and debate styles of other countries.

The plan was to create a “Debate Studio” in the Debate Team’s “War Room” in VH219 on the Modesto Maidique Campus and to add the technology to the CommArts Studio on the Biscayne Bay Campus to allow debaters on both campuses to go global, or even just talk to each other.  This month, after a year of consultations with media designers, audio-visual equipment sales staff, and technicians, the project was completed.   Besides the teleconferencing equipment, both venues now feature state-of-the-art presentation and recording technology, which will allow debaters to record sessions for playback and review.

For more information, go to: FIU Debate.


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Lecture Series Features Top Communicators

The Communication Arts Department launched a new lecture series this month called “Communication Works.” Put together by faculty member Raquel Perez, the series is designed to showcase leaders working in communication fields and the role of communication and communication careers in the current global economy.

On October 10th, a large crowd of students gathered to hear Alejandro M. Aristizabal, an FIU alumnus and the Felony Operations Supervisor of the 11th Judicial Circuit Criminal Mental Health Project, Jail Diversion Program in Miami-Dade County. Aristizabal shared how his communication skills and business acumen led to his work in the criminal justice system, where he assists over 400 program participants a year.

On October 27th at 10am in the MARC Pavilion, the series will continue with Anabel Llopis, the Senior Director of Sales and Marketing for the Adventure Mall. Llopis puts her FIU degree in Fashion Merchandising and Marketing and 20 years of communication expertise to work managing local, national and international marketing, tourism, advertising, events, and tenant-, community- and public relations for the 2.7 million square foot center.

On November 6 at 11am in WC 130 , students will hear from Dr. Johnny Boan, the Vice President of Marketing for KEMET, an electronics components company, where he has held positions in Operations, Quality, Product Management, Acquisitions, integration, Sales and Marketing, since he began with the company in 1980.

The series is the first of its kind for the Communication Arts Department and will continue in January. For more information, contact Raquel Perez at RaqPerez@fiu.edu

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Communication Arts’ Public Speaking Class to Give Away $25,000

Unique Project in Philanthropy Endowed by Private Donor Requires Students to Find and Investigate Non-Profits and Give Away Money

During the coming semester, Professor Elena Nuciforo and her students at Florida International University’s Department of Communication Arts will face a dynamic challenge as an integral part of their advanced public speaking class. The topic for the students this semester is philanthropy.

This advanced public speaking course in philanthropy was endowed by a $25,000 grant from Herbert Gruber and his partner Donna Lee Steffens, an FIU alumna ‘06. Gruber, a Miami resident and former CEO of Heller Financial Company/Miami, is now retired, and also a student at FIU’s Biscayne Bay Campus (BBC) in North Miami.

“I became a full-time student at FIU/BBC and have a great love for FIU and the outstanding professors I have been privileged to meet. They are gifted professionals,” said Gruber.

The course will permit Professor Nuciforo, who works within the Communication Arts Department at FIU’s College of Architecture + The Arts and her students, in the advanced public speaking class to find and investigate non-profit organizations. Once a decision is made by the students and professor, they will award monetary grants to the organizations chosen

This concept is innovative but not new. Other major universities such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Stanford have engaged in similar successful teaching projects. According to Jan Solomon, Development Officer at the BBC campus of FIU, “the course offers our students a real-world experience of philanthropy. This donation enables a unique pedagogical endeavour that benefits FIU students as preparation for potential work in the non-profit sector or inspiration for becoming philanthropists themselves.”

“It is all about making informed, ethical choices about how to do good for society,” added Gruber. “Most students will think before taking this course that it is easy to give away money,” added Jan Solomon. “Once they take this class, they will realize how difficult it actually is.”

The Communication Arts Department has previously partnered with the Miami Coalition for the Homeless to teach formerly homeless individuals public speaking skills. From speech writing to message delivery, FIU students enrolled in the public speaking class worked directly with members of the Miami Coalition.  Students took the information they learned in their class and helped train the formerly homeless to give passionate and well organized speeches about their experience of life on the street.  These speakers then passed their message on to at-risk youth and government agencies throughout the greater Miami-Dade County and through these efforts, increased community awareness and sensitivity to the important issues related to homelessness.

For more information about this course or any others available within the Communication Arts Department, please visit www.carta.fiu.edu/comm-arts/

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Communication Arts Professor Pens Essay on Complicated Grief

 Lynne M. Webb, Professor in Communication Arts, is lead author of the chapter “Communicative Coping with Ambiguous Death: The Search for Answers, Consolation, Acceptance,” recently published in Stories of Complicated Grief: A Critical Anthology. Her essay is an auto-ethnography appearing in the section “Death or Physical Loss of One’s Child.” Professor Webb, trained as a social scientist, describes communication with friends who helped her cope with the unexpected and unexplained death of her son Reed at age 13. Her co-author Paige W. Toller is a Communication professor at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, and is widely considered the leading national expert in communication surrounding the death of a child.

Stories of Complicated Grief is an interdisciplinary volume published by the National Association of Social Workers Press. The Press promotes the book as “an invaluable, unprecedented resource for clinicians, academics, and anyone grappling with the effects of complicated grief in their own life.” They describe the chapters as “powerful and moving in their own right, but notable in that they all highlight academic issues regarding the nature of loss and grief, shedding light on what it means to experience complicated grief while weaving in related topics such as cultural differences, stigma, shame, losses, and traumas other than death.”

The collection is edited by Eric D. Miller, a Psychology professor at Kent State University in Ohio specializing in adult coping with loss and trauma. Stories of Complicated Grief contains 21 chapters across 384 pages and is available on amazon.com.

Professor Webb (PhD, University of Oregon) conducts research on family communication, specifically in parent-child relationships. In August 2013, she joined the FIU Communication Arts faculty. Professor Webb teaches multiple courses at FIU including Interpersonal Communication, Conflict Management, and Communication in Social Media.

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Reference Work Features Entries from Two Communication Arts Professors

On September 16, Sage Publishing released The Social History of American Families: An Encyclopedia. The reference work features entries written by two CARTA faculty members. Daniel Blaeuer, Assistant Professor in Communication Arts, authored the entry titled “National Affordable Housing Act.” Lynne M. Webb, Professor in Communication Arts, served as lead author for the entry titled “Technology.”

According to Sage Publishing, the four volume American Families Encyclopedia “explores the vital role of the family as the fundamental social unit across the span of American history. It chronicles the social, cultural, economic, and political aspects of the American family from the colonial period to the present.” The Encyclopedia was edited by two well-respected University of Missouri professors of family studies, Marilyn Coleman and Lawrence H. Ganong. The Encyclopedia contains approximately 600 entries and is available in both digital and print formats.

Blaeuer’s entry discusses the history of the National Affordable Housing Act as well as its consequences, especially in South Florida. Blaeuer conducts research on the communication surrounding community development and engagement. Blaeuer (PhD, University of South Florida) joined the FIU faculty in August 2011 after serving on the Barry University faculty. He teaches courses at FIU that include Artistic Expression, Communication Theory, and Communication Leadership.

Webb’s entry summarizes numerous studies examining how family members use new media to communicate with each other. The entry also describes the positive and negative consequences of families adopting communication technologies. Webb conducts research on computer-mediated communication in personal relationships. Webb (PhD, University of Oregon) joined the FIU faculty in August 2013 after serving on the University of Arkansas faculty. She teaches courses at FIU that include Interpersonal Communication, Conflict Management, and Communication in Social Media.

According to Sage Publishing “The Social History of the American Family” is an ideal reference for students and researchers who want to explore political and social debates about the importance of the family and its evolving constructions.” The Encyclopedia is available via amazon.com.


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FIU Debate Makes Great Showing in Indianapolis

The FIU Debate Team made a great showing at the 2014 Audrey Cunningham Forensics 500 Speech and Debate Tournament in Indianapolis, Indiana on September 20, 2014. Luis Toro was recognized as the 3rd speaker at the tournament. Andrew Dias and Luis Toro advanced into the quarterfinal round against the top seed, Berea College, and won on a 3-0 decision.  In the semi-final round against Grove City College, they were awarded 3rd place (on a 2-1 decision). First-timers Alex Bornote and Rodrigo Quirch missed advancing into the quarterfinals by a single ballot. Juan Salamanca and Roman Viveros also competed on the FIU team for the first time.

With more than 15 schools competing at the “Indianapolis 500″ of debate at the University of Indianapolis, FIU was 4th in overall sweepstakes. Congratulations to the team and new faculty coach, T.J. Lakin!  The trophies are on display in the Communication Arts Department’s display case in VH 212.  Come by and take a look!

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FIU Professor Webb Named Outstanding Communication Theory Scholar

At the recent meeting of the Southern States Communication Association, in New Orleans, LA, Lynne M. Webb, PhD, Professor in Communication Arts, received the Outstanding Scholar in Communication Theory Award. The award is given annually to an outstanding scholar, as selected by the officers of the Communication Theory Division. The award is based on the scholar’s research record, the impact of that record on communication research, and the scholar’s mentoring. Webb is the author of over 75 published essays, including three original theories. Past winners across the last five years have included communication professors from Duquesne University, LSU, the University of Michigan, University of North Dakota, University of Southern Mississippi, and Texas Christian University.

This is Webb’s second time winning the award; she was similarly honored in 2000 and is the only scholar to receive the award twice. On April 5, 2014, a panel was held in her honor at the annual meeting of the Southern Communication Association. At the panel, she was interviewed about her research and asked to explain how she writes theory, manages multiple methods studies, and supervises large collaborative teams of researchers.

Webb joined the FIU faculty in August 2013. She previously held tenured appointments at the Universities of Florida, Memphis, and Arkansas, as well as visiting appointments at the University of Hawaii and Hong Kong Baptist University. In 2012, she was named a Fulbright Master Researcher. She completed her PhD in Communication at the University of Oregon. She teaches courses at FIU that include Interpersonal Communication, Conflict Management, and Communication in Social Media.

SSCA’s purpose is to “promote the study, criticism, research, teaching, and application of communication.” Communication scholars from 15 southeastern states consider SSCA their primary regional association. At age 85, SSCA is among the oldest professional associations of communication scholars in the US and publisher of the highly ranked Southern Communication Journal.

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Professor Nick Temple Debunks Climategate and Wins Top Paper Award

Nicholas Temple, PhD, Assistant Professor in FIU’s Department of Communication Arts, won a Top Paper Award at the annual meeting of the Southern States Communication Association (SSCA) in New Orleans, LA. On April 4, 2014, he presented his paper titled “Science as ‘Other’: A Burkean Rhetorical Vision of Discussion Board Participants.” It was honored as the top paper submitted to the Kenneth Burke Society for presentation at the conference.

The paper reported Temple’s original analysis of online responses to the so-called “climategate” scandal in late 2009. His analysis used two Burkean concepts (consubstantiation and casuistic stretching) to demonstrate that non-scientists simply misunderstood how science worked. His paper reveals that citizens misunderstood the normal scientific dialogue of critique and replication. Reporters claimed and citizens believed that scientists had “falsified data” when in reality colleagues were simply critiquing a study’s research methodology. This paper is one in a series in which Temple is analyzing US environmental movements by examining how citizens use, understand, and misunderstand the scientific findings that undergird the need to preserve our natural environment.

Temple joined the FIU faculty in August 2012 after completing his PhD in Communication at the North Carolina State University. He teaches a slate of courses that includes Persuasion, Environmental Communication, Communication Ethics, and Rhetorical Theory.

SSCA’s purpose is to “promote the study, criticism, research, teaching, and application of communication.” Communication scholars from 15 southeastern states consider SSCA their primary regional association. At age 85, SSCA is among the oldest professional associations of communication scholars in the US and proud publisher of the highly ranked Southern Communication Journal.


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Communication Arts Staffer Creates Eco-Art from Office Trash

Sarah Shoulak, who works in the Communication Arts Studio, wants your trash!  A communication coordinator or “speech coach” by day, she can frequently be found roaming the halls after work and rummaging through FIU recycling bins looking for colorful card stock, postcards, flyers, and other heavy weight paper packaging.  With her finds, she fashions beautiful mosaic images from little paper “tiles.”  Two art pieces were featured recently in the Frost Museum’s FIU Family Day exhibit and will soon be displayed at the university’s presidential mansion, the Reagan House, along with the other works from the exhibition.  Sarah’s “eco art” mosaics contain thousands, of small squares cut from promotional postcards, event tickets, report folders, and cardboard packaging.  Some pieces contain words, some have smaller images on them, and some are solid colored, but when they are combined, they create the images she envisions.  “I have heard my work referred to as ‘trash art’ and I am fine with that.  I love taking a pile of trash on my living room floor and transforming it into a thing of beauty, a work of art.  I see art in everything around me. I want to challenge what society deems ‘beautiful.’ ”  If you want to share your trash with Sarah, you can drop it off at VH 230, the CommArts Studio, where there is a special recycling bin labeled: “Trash for Sarah – Thick Paper/Colored Cardboard Recycling.”

To see more of Sarah’s trash art mosaics and her handcrafted dolls made from t-shirt scraps, check out her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/KateriArtandDesign


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Communication Arts Helps Future Doctors Find Their Voices

For the third year, the Communication Arts Department’s CommArts Studio offered communication skills training to the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine’s “Doctors of Tomorrow” program participants.  The program is designed to help underrepresented student populations – typically women and minorities – become more competitive for the medical school application process and prepare for them for success as future medical school students, residents, and doctors. This year, 23 undergraduate students from Florida colleges and universities – including FIU – got an inside view of a modern U.S. university medical school, its administrators and faculty, its labs and classrooms.  While in residence at FIU, they attended seminars on writing personal statements and the medical school application process, concept mapping, preparing for the MCAT test, test-taking strategies, time management, work-life balance, professional ethics, and communication skills.

  The CommArts Studio’s Charlene Eberly talked to students about interpersonal communication in the doctor-patient relationship, issues related to intercultural communication, and communicating confidence and leadership potential in the interview process. Students learned the power of eye contact and the non-verbal messages they send and how to project a positive, confident image.  They prepared their self-introductions and interview talking points designed to showcase their strengths and interests and practiced interview responses.  At the end of the session, students headed off to the Graham Center for lunch, eager to practice their new skills on any students and faculty they could find.

Read more about FIU’s Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine and the Doctors of Tomorrow program:


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Crisis Management is All About Communication


Do you think handling your own personal conflicts is difficult? Try making a career out of handling the conflicts associated with presidents, celebrities, multinational companies, and politicians.  Judy Smith has made a career out of being a “fixer” for a wide range of clients and has been immortalized in the popular television show, Scandal.   On March 31, 2014, she took the stage in the Graham Center Ballroom to share her story with FIU students, faculty and staff as part of Diversity Week.

Smith graduated from Boston University with a degree in Communications, before deciding to attend the American University’s Washington College of Law. There she was able to hone her argumentation, persuasion, and conflict management skills. After law school, Smith was prepared to accept a job at a law firm when she had a lunch meeting with a friend that led her in a whole new direction. Three days later she was offered a job in crisis management and she has never looked back. Her communication skills took her all the way to becoming the Special Assistant and Deputy Press Secretary to George H.W. Bush. She now works as a crisis manager.

Judy Smith’s career has shown what can become of good communication skills can lead. Where will your communication skills take you? 

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Degrees Employers Love

Wondering which college degrees employers are looking for?  Keep reading to learn more.

In an article for Education news at Yahoo.com, Terence Loose researched the degrees that are attractive to future employers (and those that are not). He asked Susan Heathfield, the Human Resource Guide for About.com about the need for students to be practical in making degree decisions.  “With the unemployment situation the way it is right now, I would be considering what degree to get more closely than any other time in history,” says Heathfield. “If you want to be employable in this economy and the future, you have to have valuable skills.”

With that in mind, Loose asked Heathfield what degrees employers might love and he also consulted Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.  Carnevale and his department conducted a 2012 study called “Hard Times: College Majors, Unemployment and Earnings.” With the subheadline “Not All College Degrees Are Created Equal,” this report studied the unemployment rates for recent (aged 22 to 26) and experienced (aged 30 to 54) college graduates in various majors.  In addition, Loose used the U.S. Department of Labor’s most recent U.S. unemployment rate of 8.1 percent (April 2012) and considered unemployment rates above 8.1 percent as “bad”, and rates below 8.1 percent as “good” in evaluating the preferred degrees and career tracks for students.  Loose then created a “Most Loved” and “Most Hated” ranked list of degrees.

Loved Degree #2: Communications

If there’s one thing we love to do in this age of the Internet, it’s communicate. With everything from Twitter and Facebook to chat rooms and blogs blasting us every minute of every day, a degree in communications seems relevant.

The “Hard Times” report found a 7.4 percent unemployment rate among recent grads of communications. And the unemployment rate for experienced grads was even lower at 6.3 percent.

What’s behind these strong numbers? Carnevale says communications is growing […]. He adds that “communications includes a lot of the Internet stuff and a lot of the institutional work.”

Heathfield echoes this optimism, saying that a specialization in social media could help make you marketable now and well into the future.

Ready to learn more about social media and the communications field? The College Board says  communications programs typically include courses in communication and mass media research, media law and ethics, mass media and society, or global perspectives in media.

To read the full report, go to: http://education.yahoo.net/articles/loved_and_hated_degrees.htm

To find out more about Florida International University’s Communication Arts degree, go to comm-art.fiu.edu


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CommArts’ Student Represents College


Communication  Arts Major and SGA Senator Tomas Alcala wants students to discover CARTA.  In January 2014 Tomas was elected to the Student Government Association as the Senator for the College of Architecture + The Arts (CARTA).  A Miami native, Tomas transferred to FIU in Fall 2013 from the University of Central Florida.  At UCF Tomas had roomed with his longtime friend, Sean Lunsford, son of FIU Vice President of Student Affairs Larry Lunsford.  Returning to Miami and enrolling in FIU, Tomas was encouraged by VP Lunsford to get involved in Student Government. Tomas ran for the CARTA Senate seat and was elected.


Tomas is excited about the opportunity to promote all that CARTA has to offer students.  From the Miami Beach Urban Studios and the Communication Arts Studio to the many art exhibits, concerts and plays, CARTA is full of creativity and Tomas wants students to discover the numerous ways they can experience the different academic disciplines that make up the college.

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Learning to Lead: Communication Arts’ Student Government President

Liane Sippin has been having a life-changing year.  Last Spring, she was a Senator-at-large in Student Government with no ambition for higher office.  She was planning a public relations career and a future behind the scenes.  A few days before the candidate filing deadline, she was asked to fill the vice president slot on a ticket for the Student Government elections. Although she had not contemplated running, she thought the VP slot would not put her too much in the limelight.  Two weeks before the elections however, her running mate was disqualified.  With only one other ticket on the ballot, she was encouraged to move into the Presidential slot and find someone to fill out the ticket. She recruited Diwaldo Rabre for the VP slot but she had little expectation of winning.  Fate intervened though and four days before the elections, the other candidates were disqualified leaving Sippin and Rabre running uncontested.  The next thing she knew, Liane was the President of the Student Government Association for the Modesto Maidique campus, representing and responsible to tens of thousands of students.

As president, Liane is responsible for a multi-million dollar budget. She regularly presides over committee and board meetings, hosts events and addresses diverse audiences, including state legislators.  She is on her way to becoming a confident speaker and is now majoring in communication arts. She loves her classes and learning things like the role of conflict in communication and how people use social media. She wants to pursue a career that involves communication and logistics, and says her dream job would be either White House Social Secretary or Chief of Protocol for the Department of State.

Looking back at the past year and the many lessons learned, Liane says she is much more comfortable being in the spotlight now.  “Every day I learn something new. I have learned to ask my mentors for what I need from them and they have helped me grow,” she says. “I have learned to articulate my vision and show others how to pursue their own objectives while working toward a common goal.”  From reluctant candidate to confident leader, Liane looks forward to whatever comes next.

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Communication Arts Students Go High Tech in Class!

Ready, Aim, Vote!  Students in Professor Kate Montero’s Advanced Business Communication classes raise their i-clickers and vote on the best presentation of the investor proposal pitch.  The i-clickers’ live polling technology provides an instantaneous display on the classroom’s big screen so students can see the vote tallies in real time.

Montero says the interactivity of the live voting with the i-clickers puts assessment in the hands of students – literally!  “I am turning over the control to them,” she says, “Through their votes, the students let their peers know if the pitches successfully reached them, the student audience. Peer voting is the best form of feedback.  I just sit back and watch the learning happen.”

The Communication Arts Department obtained the i-clickers through a technology fee award intended to allow debate tournament polling for FIU’s Debate Society.  FIU debaters use them to practice and provide rapid-fire polling to let debaters know when they score points in debate rounds.

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Communication Arts’ Student Creates a “Win-Win” Cultural Exchange

Originally interested in pre-med, Fabiah Lherisson found that she was drawn to communication courses, particularly intercultural and interpersonal communication, and this ultimately led to her decision to change her major. A native of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, she wanted to share the experience of Haitian life – through its most valuable resource, the children – with her fellow students.  In 2011 Lherisson, now a Communication Arts senior, created a foundation intended to raise students’ awareness of other cultures and promote intercultural communication and exchange.

Calling it Win-Win Global, she set about raising funds and planning a trip for FIU students to visit her native Haiti.  This fall she took a group of 14 FIU students to Haiti for a 10-day visit centered around instructional seminars at the Kingdom of Kids Orphanage and the K-12 school, College Jean Rigauld Antoine.  Educational topics were related to the FIU students’ major subject areas and interests and designed to meet curricular needs of the Haitian schools.

Lherisson and Win-Win Global partnered with FIU’s Haitian Student Organization (HSO) to bring the 14 students to Haiti for the week-long project. Like its name implies, the Win-Win Global trip was structured to benefit both the young Haitian students and the FIU students.  In addition to teaching, the FIU group got to enjoy the beaches, museums, local restaurants and historical sights of the Haitian capital and surrounding countryside. This not only helped them become future ambassadors for Haiti based on their positive experience of the country, but gave them a “win-win” “half work, half play” experience.

Each student developed and led a workshop on a topic related to his or her major and career goals. Win- Win Global advisors worked with the FIU students in the month prior to traveling to structure their workshops and hone their presentation skills to make sure they were effectively communicating their ideas and scaling the lessons to the Haitian students’ grade level. Topics ranged from health (HIV/ STD spread and prevention), to English language basics, and the effects of pollution on the individual and the population.

To see the video, go to  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbqzpF5AwXg

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