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Previous Student Spotlights

Here you can find our previous Student Spotlights! We wanted to recognize Communication students who work hard to go above and beyond coming to class and truly make a difference in the department, student media organization(s), and/or the community. As a parallel to our Alum Spotlight, our Student Showcase offers students an opportunity to lift up those who truly stand out, allows others an opportunity to conceptualize their academic path, and evoke inspiration through various careers that stem from a degree in Communication. Faculty, staff, and students are encouraged to submit a nomination for any student currently attending Valpo. Please email us with any questions or to nominate a student who stands out!

Student Spotlight: Jasmine Delara

Jasmine Delara

Q) What brought you to Valpo?

A) I thought when I was in high school that I wanted to go south. I found a school very similar to Valpo in North Carolina. They had a big focus on their Business School. When I was in high school, I was seeking a firm Business School, which is funny because I am now a Communication major getting ready to graduate in May.

Various reasons- scholarships being one, another being that my brother, who is my best friend was going to be a high school Senior. Being able to be involved in everything he was going to do like productions, etc. became incredibly important to me at the last minute. Choosing Valpo ultimately ended up being a family decision. My first time visiting Valpo, it was the day of a blizzard, so not Indiana at its finest. When talking to everyone and they would ask what I was interested in and I said, business maybe, but not really sure what that is. Every single person was so enthusiastic and was so open to helping me pursue my dreams. I am a first-generation college student and throughout the four years that I’ve been here, everyone I have met/interacted with has been incredibly supportive and encouraging. It is important for me to help keep that going for the next generation of college students. There are so many people on this campus– from the Communication Department to the Chapel and everywhere in between is able to not only go the extra mile but an extra ten miles for you. They are here for you, walk alongside you.. Which is so amazing and incredible in such an important time of your life.

Q) What is your dream job?

A)  That didn’t change from business to communication, it just changed how I am able to use what I am learning. I would love to go into outdoor ministry. It is a fancy term for me wanting to be a camp counselor for the rest of my life. I have been going to, volunteering, and working at summer camps for seven or eight years. I go to camp Luther in Three Lakes Wisconsin. It is so beautiful, but what has drawn me to that career field is the beautiful way they do their ministry. You are showing people that they don’t have to be inside and on screens all day. You can have fun with people, run around, and going outside and getting energy out that you may not even know was there. Then then you are sharing something that is so important to you and will hopefully become important to them, which is faith life In the meantime, you are also doing so many other things– being a role model, making lifelong friends, and so much more. So many different things that have happened because of camp– it is such an important ministry that connects to other ministries as well such as church ministries, youth groups, megachurches, etc. all have some sort of connection to camps. It is amazing the types of ministry that are accomplished all across the country. Geographically they are very different, but no matter where you are teaching them, which is the love of Jesus Christ, which is the beautiful overarching mission of camp.

Q) What are you involved in on campus?  

A)  I am involved in a lot of things on campus. I have 3 on-campus jobs: in the Welcome Center as a tour guide, in the chapel as a sacristy staff and bake all of the communion bread. If you’ve had communion bread over the past three years, that was me! I also work in the ILS coordinating the Immersion Trip to Flint, Michigan. Outside of work I also started an organization called Valpo Spark, which is a camp organization that connects camps around the country to students here on campus. We do a lot of events hosting camps and creating networks and showing students the benefits of working at these camps instead of doing an internship or working a different kind of job. Just taking one summer can really change someone’s life. Helping open people’s eyes to that is a passion for me. I’m also a part of Sweet Wine music ministry group which is super fun and close-knit group and a charter member of Alpha Gama Delta. I’m a very busy lady. I like to stay busy and love meeting new people. God has thrown a lot of new people at me and it has been so cool connecting and getting to walk alongside them.

Q) What did you want to do when you were 10?

A) An interesting story about my life is that I actually grew up doing pageants. I know that most people hear that and they think about Honey Boo Boo. They were nothing like that– they were community service-based, so you created a platform you were going to help your community with. Mine was always volunteerism and educating people on how to volunteer. So, I did pageants from age 6-18 teaching and helping my community through events, etc. At age 10 you have to say what you wanted to be when you grew up. I knew the questions were going to come up, that people would ask me, but I had no idea what I wanted to do. I just thought I would figure it out when I got there. All I wanted to do was the next fun thing. My parents wanted me to get into music, some people wanted me to be a chef,

Q) What is your favorite COMM class that you have taken so far?

A)  My favorite COMM class has been Intrapersonal Communication with Professor Douglas. Like how we are talking right now and observing people in a space. It was so cool to be able to learn about all of these things that I had kind of thought about before but then had to really take a look at them. It was great learning how to make sure people are comfortable talking to me. Like in a group setting or not in a group setting at all. Someone could be in a group setting that is their most comfortable space, but if someone says one thing, their body language could change and I am able to notice that.  After this class then I know I am able to notice those things and say, “Hey, are you ok”? I loved being able to study that. I want to be able to be there for people. 

Q) What is the best piece of advice you have been given by a professor or student while at Valpo?

A)  One of my best advisors and faith mentors while here at Valpo has been Deaconess Kristin. Not enough words for her. She has said a lot of really great things to me, but one thing she says repeatedly is to stay connected to your communities because they’re the ones who will be there at the end. Through the lows and highs, they will be there. That and to take care of yourself- she says that every time she sees me. Everyone at Valpo is busy- that is the underlying part of our community, part of our culture. Being able to hear that from someone who is also so busy- that it is ok to take care of yourself or that you are going to be ok, is sometimes the most powerful words you can hear. Often times really simple statements can be the most powerful thing someone can say.                                       

Q) What is your favorite memory from being at Valpo?

A) So many good ones! One of my reoccurring favorite memories is my music ministry group. We do two things– once a semester we get to lead worship and at the end of the year, in the Spring semester we do a Spring concert where we sing all of our songs. It is literally the longest concert ever. We do it in the chapel’s baptistry because it has really great acoustics, mics, etc. Specifically, this last time, we sang the Wednesday before the break. I thought there would be a low turnout, but there were probably close to 200 people there. Being able to sing in that space and to worship and just be present is one of my favorite memories. Being able to do that so many times over the past four years is so special.  The chapel has been such a special place for me because I work there, have meetings there, I’ve had my lowest and highest moments there so being able to sing in that space, worship, and be present was just such a magical and blissful experience.  I studied in Cambridge last semester, so coming back and being in the chapel meant so much more to me. Actually seeing Coventry Cathedral, which is what our chapel is loosely based off of and being able to see pieces of that and how we recreated that is just so beautiful. Coventry has a more somber tone- you automatically feel quieter. When you walk into our chapel, for me personally I feel very calm and tranquil yet able to celebrate and I just love that they were able to do that.

Q) First feeling you had when you attended a gathering on campus?

A) I’d say the first memorable gathering I had was the first time I had a Sweet Wine rehearsal. I had walked there with my new friend, who has since become one of my best friends, Joy. We didn’t know what we were getting into, but what I wanted to find was something that reminded me of camp. I was still iffy on what calling I had, I knew I wanted something where I was comfortable. I’m really big on commitments and responsibilities and this was a year-long commitment, so I wasn’t going to just back out if I didn’t like it. When I walked in, everyone was wearing chacos which is my favorite kind of sandals and everyone was running around having fun. I just knew that they were my people. I didn’t know what I was there for, but knowing now what I was getting into is a really beautiful thing.

Q) What internships have you had?

A)  I interned at Valpo Spark, which is the organization I helped start. It has been really cool creating objectives and goals for myself the organization in a more mindful setting. There have always been objectives and goals, but having that internship and the class and the reminders were so helpful staying on course. I have been able to do so much more this semester than any other semester. Only having one more semester of leading this organization, especially since this has been my baby, my strongest passion point on campus and having to say goodbye and letting someone else take control of it I will be able to hopefully come back in a few years and it has become something huge.

Q) What words of wisdom do you have for other students?

A)  I think there are two major thoughts that I live by; to be able to give from the overflow. Our cups are at different levels at all times, but we don’t want to just keep giving and giving until you’re empty. You want to find those spaces and find the time where you are able to step back within your school or communities so you are then able to give from the overflow. The other thing is that with our busy life and culture, it comes with a double-edged sword. Is busy my religion? Am I busy because I want to be in all of these spaces, communities, academics or because I feel like I have to be? That is something that constantly goes through my mind and I love to check myself to make sure that is not happening. One of my favorite professors on campus gave a sermon where he said, ‘If you’re too busy, you can’t learn’. If you’re moving too much, you can’t take a step back to focus on the beauty of what’s around you. Understanding how busy I am is so important to me.

Student Spotlight: Alexis Hodo

Alexis Hodo

What brought you to Valpo?

I don’t live that far away- about 45 minutes and was the first in my family to go to college. We didn’t want to limit ourselves to where I was looking. We liked the idea of in-state schools because of the tuition exchange from being a resident. My parents always liked the idea of me going to Valpo because it was close. As I was toward the end of high school, our family really struggled and my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Once I was accepted to Valpo, I luckily was able to receive financial aid but then my mom called and explained our situation and I was able to be offered more financial aid, which we were incredibly grateful for. Then when I found out there was a student ran a newspaper and they had an active fraternity and sorority life, it was easy for us to make the decision to come here.

What is your dream job?

As a senior, I’ve been thinking about this more often lately. In high school, I decided that I wanted to be a journalist and that just has stuck. I’m still the Editor in Chief, but though my internships and classes I’ve realized that my degree can take me to different places. I’m very interested in philanthropic work with my sorority, journalism, social media, and everything that is new and fresh in media. My mom pushed me to be in a sorority and at first, I was not interested at all. I finally went just to make her happy but then I ended up becoming incredibly passionate about being a part of them. If I do end up working at the headquarters, it would be a full circle from where I started. I want to find something that fully embodies happiness for me and has made coming to Valpo worth it.

What did you want to be when you were 10?

When I was 10, I wanted to be an actress or a singer. Then my brother started singing and I realized that I needed to find a different career because he is incredible. He actually has the best voice and has been in Varsity Choir since he was a freshman. Once I realized I wanted to be a journalist, it made sense because they have to be creative as well unless you are a hard-hitting journalist, you have to be able to use your creativity. I’ve wanted to be a features reporter or something more creative. I’ve always wanted to be creative, but it has just evolved.

What Media Organizations are you involved in?

I love all of the media organizations, but the Torch is my heart. I started as a Page Designer during my Freshman year, the sophomore year I was a co-features A&E Editor, was the Managing Editor at the beginning of my junior year and transitioned to Editor-in-Chief halfway through. In my senior year, I have been the Editor-in-Chief.  

What is your favorite Comm class that you have taken so far? 

I have two favorite classes:

As a sophomore, I took Professor Rick Wolff’s Horror through Film class because I’m a huge Horror film fan. Everyone was super involved in the class. We watched a lot of classic and newer films so it was a great mix. I had not seen all of them so it was a great way for me to learn about that form of communication that I had not really thought about.

The second is Professor Paul Oren’s Sports Media Formats class. Sports have always been my poorest area. I am completely illiterate when it comes to sports, but this class has taught me so much. I feel like I can actually go home and have a real conversation with my mom or my boyfriend who actually knows a lot about sports now. I had only taken the class because I needed the credits, but I am so grateful that I took it because I have learned so much.  

What is the best piece of advice you have been given by a professor or student while at Valpo?

I would say that the mistakes- it’s ok to make a mistake. Not every single person is going to be mistake-free. That’s the point. You know that you’re doing a good job at Torch night if you are there until 2:00 AM. If I wake up the next day and there’s a typo, it doesn’t mean that I don’t care bout it any less. Paul Oren has been a huge asset when it comes to that. The mistake after mistake is what led to the downfall and then the uprising of the organization. I have had to have the mindset that we will make mistakes, but it is ok- we just need to learn from it and move on. We can still create a great product that wins awards.

What is a favorite memory you have from being in Valpo?

My first favorite memory being at Valpo has been was going on my first collegiate trip for the Torch. I had been involved in the newspaper in high school, but it wasn’t funded like that. Being able to go on a trip and meeting other journalism for the first time was so amazing. We came back with a ton of enthusiasm and happiness. It made me realize that I’m doing this because I’m capable and helped me to be really excited and helped me solidify my passion for this.

My second was joining Kappa Delta- I walked into the last round to Kappa Delta and the person who greeted me was Victoria Bruick who was the managing editor of the Torch at the time. We had a great heart to heart and we matched so well together. It helped to have a sister that I already knew.

There are a lot of good memories- there are bad and sad memories as well, but the good far outweigh those.

Working with Taylor Bundren was also just the best experience of my life- working with someone who is so much like myself was just incredible.  

Describe the feelings you had the first time you attended a gathering here.

I don’t think Paul knows this story- it had to be at an admitted student day. I was with my mom and it was before I was officially a student. We went to an event in the ballrooms where there was a panel of professors who talked about the departments, what they offered, etc. After they were done introducing themselves I turned to my mom and was so excited- I kept saying that he was a real journalist. That a real journalist would be teaching me here. Any time Paul would talk I would just lean into everything he had to say. I knew immediately that I would be getting involved in the Torch. I emailed the editor in chief and asked how I could get involved so they started sending me articles to work on, I would get feedback, and just keep learning. By issue 4, they emailed me and asked me to be on the staff. I was so excited because as a freshman they wanted me to be on staff. I actually still have that email in my inbox. Their sports editor at the time had started working at IMC so they needed help. Ever since then I’ve come in every Tuesday or Thursday to work on the paper.

What internships have you had?

I’ve had two internships. When I was in high school I interned for a startup magazine called Trend but was renamed to the Letter. The girl who started it actually just transitioned it to her own brand. It was a magazine that highlighted women in business and influencers like wedding planners, makeup artists with YouTube channels, etc… It was so great to see the progress of these women who were featured. I did that throughout high school until Lauren transitioned to her own brand. She still writes letters of recommendation for me. They even flew me out to West Virginia to do a photo shoot for them.

Now I have been doing an internship with We Create Media. It is so different than what I am used to at the Torch because it is not journalism based. The majority of the internship I did copy based things. But then I started getting into other little things. I would see people doing graphic design and say that I was interested in learning more about it. I do a lot of random things and they are very accepting of wanting me to explore different strengths- they want me to dive into each area. The company/employees themselves are so fun and easy to talk to. I could see myself there if the opportunity arose. I would have never gotten the internship if it weren’t for Kappa Delta. My advisor was a marketing major and she said if I needed help finding an internship then to let her know. I ended up reaching out because I was having a difficult time finding one. She asked me to reach out to the owner of We Create because they worked on a project together. I did and was able to get the internship on the spot. It has been such a great experience.

Is there anything else that you would like to add/ what advice do you have for other students?

I’m not saying you have to be involved in The Torch or like WVUR, but getting involved is so important. It will lead you to something you may not even know exists yet. It has brought me to meet some of my best friends. It is important to understand that you can be on more than one organization without getting burned out. I’ve been on the e-board for Kappa Delta and Editor-in-Chief of the Torch- although it hasn’t been easy peasy, neither one has suffered. We have had one of the most successful periods in Kappa Delta in my position. Additionally, we have actually had a lot more positive feedback from students and faculty about our paper this year, which has been really nice.

Student Spotlight: Carmen Vincent

Carmen Vincent

Q) What brought you to Valpo?

A) I applied to 20 schools because I’m paying for my own education and wanted the “best deal.” I quickly learned that Valpo was the one, not only because of their generosity but because of the community fostered here. I feel like I’m part of a family in the COMM department and Christ College; everyone gets special attention from the professors, we all know each other by name, and we’re all here to support one another.

Q) What is your dream job?

A) My dream job is to be a documentary filmmaker. I know there’s no straight path to that, but I also know it’s my passion and my purpose to tell stories that we as a society don’t hear enough.

Q) What did you want to be when you were 10?

A) When I was 10 years old, I was dead-set on being a young adult novelist, so I guess I’ve always had a love for storytelling.

Q) What Media Organizations are you involved in?

A) I’m involved in VUTV. Before I studied abroad, I had the pleasure of serving on the Executive Board, and I hope to remain involved this semester. I also work in the equipment room! I know that’s not technically a media org., but it’s a tight-knit group that supports the COMM department, and I love that.

Q) What is your favorite Comm class that you have taken so far? 

A)Video Art with Prof. Liz Wuerffel! She pushed me outside my narrative-focused comfort zone and showed me that there is great power in the experimental. I absolutely loved having the freedom to go beyond the narrative film and express myself in whatever way I felt like (with thoughtfulness and meaning, of course).

Q) What is the best piece of advice you have been given by a professor or student while at Valpo?

A) On my first day of FOCUS, my OA told me that we need to start feeling comfortable not knowing everything because once we know everything, there’s no room for learning. That’s how you know you’ve stopped living. This really resonated with me because I’ve always felt pressure to know everything. That piece of advice allowed me to step back and reflect, and to realize that we can never know everything about our passion or our topic of study, and that is exciting.

Q) What is a favorite memory you have from being in Valpo?

A) My favorite memory was the entirety of my two weeks in Bethlehem, Palestine with Liz Wuerffel, Jon Hendricks, Sawyer Patrick, and Mark Young for a video internship I was blessed enough to participate in. Being in Palestine and hearing Palestinian stories sparked my passion for documentary filmmaking. I realized there are powerful, important stories to tell that already exist- they just need to be told.

Q) Describe the feelings you had the first time you attended a media org/COMM gathering. 

A)  I specifically remember the COMM awards night during my freshman year. There was such a sense of community and support all around. That night, I really felt part of a group of talented, passionate people who are actively making a difference in their world and the world around them. That sentiment has continued every day since.

Q) What internships have you had?

A) So far, I’ve interned for Bright Stars of Bethlehem, as mentioned before. I’ve also interned for my local television station, West Bend Community Television. This past summer, I interned for WTTW, the Chicago PBS affiliate television station. This upcoming fall, I’m so eager to intern for the Welcome Project in Valpo. 

Q) So you won a $10,000 Nikon Scholarship! Can tell me a little more about how you found out about the opportunity, your inspiration, and how you felt when you found out that you were selected as a winner.

A) I’m still in shock that I was selected for this! Freshman year, my supervisor at IMC, Jon Hendricks, recommended I apply. I did but didn’t make it past the semifinalist round. This year, for some reason, I decided to apply again. Luckily I was selected! I was at my internship at WTTW when I got the acceptance email, and I immediately took my lunch break so I could call everyone about it- I was so, so excited. (I still am!) It just goes to show that rejection isn’t a reason to stop trying. I’m proof of that, now.

Q) Is there anything else that you would like to add?

A) If you want to view the films I’ve made, they’re all posted at https://www.youtube.com/carmenvincentfilms. I’m so grateful to be part of such a supportive department here at Valpo. I really believe the COMM department is truly special (I may be a little biased, but still). I feel so supported, and I have the constant opportunity to support others here. It’s a fantastic dynamic, and it’s going to be incredibly bittersweet walking across the graduation stage in May. If anyone ever needs anything, please feel free to reach out to me!

 

Student Spotlight: Lauren Wilson

Lauren Wilson

Q) What brought you to Valpo?

A) On my first visit, I had a tour guide that said hello and knew everyone walking past. Small class sizes, great professors. Smaller classes, students are so nice. See 15 people just on my walk to class. You always meet new people but see a lot of the same people and grow relationships as well.

Q) What is your dream job?

A) A team reporter in the NBA or NFL, preferably NBA. If I could work for the Spurs. The head coach is a female and is really interested in bringing females into the sports industry.

Q) What Media Organizations are you involved in? 

A) VUTV– Sports Director I started in August. Ron Blatz got me started after working a camera with ESPN and Ron told me about the position. I wish I would’ve started my freshman year.

Q) What is your favorite COMM class that you have taken so far?

A) My favorite Communication class would be COMM-100 with Paul Oren. It was rough having to be in class at 8:00 AM, but he made it worth it. He has become almost like a mentor. My favorite class so far would be Econ by Sarah Gunnerson. She is so knowledgeable about Econ. She made it so understandable and enjoyable.

Q) What is the best piece of advice you have been given by a professor or student while at Valpo?

A) Work whatever job you have like you’re the best at it– whether it is sweeping the floor or getting someone coffee… even if you don’t feel like it is the best job, doing your best shows your dedication and you will find yourself in the position you want to be in through putting in that hard work. Choose your hard– ex. it’s hard to study for 6 hours and it’s hard to fail a class. Choose which hard you want to do.

Q) What internships have you had?

A) I’m going to have NBA with the Indiana Pacers– social media director for all of their summer camps. Went to NFL combine– sat in on a panel. 20 NFL analyst coaches, reporters, scouts. Pinpointed how to get into the sports industry. Two days– the first day sat in on the panel. 8hrs long, resume advice, interview, internship, 2nd day was on the field at the combine.

Q) Is there anything else that you would like to add?

A) Do whatever you can, meet whoever you can, network, and get involved. Something my mom always told the crap jobs to save your life. When you work the little jobs, it makes you work that much harder and appreciate.

Student Spotlight: Chris Rekitzke

Chris Rekitzke

Q) What brought you to Valpo?

A)It has a lot to do with what I do now- the admissions office. They were hands-on and hospitable from the moment I walked in. It felt like an experience as opposed to something I was just doing. It was the whole package.

Q) What is your dream job?

A) I don’t know if I have a dream job– but more of a dream workplace. I want to be able to work with people and for them to be a priority, not goal or numbers driven and potentially supervising.

Q) What is a favorite memory you have from being in Valpo?

A) I think that for me personally, participating in my first Dance Marathon. Being on my feet for 12 hours straight, then with the big reveal just collapsing into my best friends arms. All I could think about was all of the hard work that was put in to, not only that day but the weeks and events leading up to it- knowing that we did something that was truly worthwhile.

Q) What has been your favorite COMM class so far? 

A) Gender race and class in media with Dr. Bell. She’s lively and engaging with the material and the students. She genuinely challenges students. She teaches you about how to synthesize when writing a paper, earning your terms, and being able to support what you are writing.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given while at Valpo?

A) I’ve been given a lot of advice while here at Valpo. A piece that I was given that I now give is, ‘When is just as important as how you lose’. You may not have been picked for this position, you may have lost a game, etc. If you lose an election, you stand up and shake the man’s hand and ask how you can help. It has been a piece of advice that I personally live by now.

Student Spotlight: Monicah Njoki Wainaina 

 Monicah Njoki Wainaina

This month’s Student Spotlight is Monicah Njoki Wainaina. Monicah is a graduate student majoring in Digital Media and is from Nairobi, Kenya. Her incredible work ethic, dedication, and passion to succeed are why we chose her for our spotlight! 

Q) What brought you to Valpo?

A) I found Valpo randomly through a Google search. I was looking at schools in England and Australia, but once Valpo popped up, I knew that this is where I wanted to go. I was intrigued by the social media platforms, hands-on learning, etc. 

Q) What is your dream job?

A)  My dream job is to own my own Digital Media/PR company in the United States. I want to be able to continue creating work and network as much as possible.  

Q) What Media Organizations are you involved in?

A) I am involved in the African Student Association, MLK Day Committee, and have been on the LIghter’s sorting Committee. I have also been involved in ILS and am a Graduate Student Ambassador. 

Q) What is your favorite Comm class that you have taken so far?

A) My favorite COMM class has been COMM-597-EV Audio Production with Professor Karl Berner and Graduate Digital Media with COMM-

Professor Phillip Powell. 

Student Spotlight: Katherine (Katie) Nickolaou

Katherine (Katie) Nickolaou
Katherine (Katie) Nickolaou

 

If you have been to Schnabel Hall, you are sure to have run into Katherine (Katie) Nickolaou. Katie always has a smile on her face and it is apparent from the first time you interact with her, what she is passionate about. Her incredible work ethic, dedication, and passion are why we chose her for our Student Spotlight!

Q) What brought you to Valpo?

A) The Meteorology and Communication Departments are what brought me to Valpo. When looking at schools Ball State, Central Michigan, and Valpo was at the top of my radar. The biggest draw to Valpo was that they offered a close relationship between the Meteorology and Comm. departments (their buildings literally connect) and the chance to get hands-on experience right away. I had the opportunity to meet some professors and student media organization leaders while I was visiting- they were genuinely interested in me and my interests. They weren’t just looking for a warm body to fill a seat. That really spoke to me. 

Q) What is your dream job?

A)  My dream job would be a mix- well, let me put it this way. I would love to be the next Jim Cantore. He is able to be in the studio but also chases storms. In the field, It is my dream to be demonstrative while also being in the field. I knew from the time that I was four years old that I wanted to get involved with the weather. My family parked under an underpass during a terrible storm. I was completely captivated. We later found out that a tornado passed right by where we were at. I always say that storm chasers have the switch that tells people to run away from danger turned off because we are the ones who run toward dangerous weather.

Q) What Media Organizations are you involved in?

A) I am involved in VUTV– the first time I went into VUTV was my first day on campus. I wanted to find the TV  station because I knew I wanted to become the Weather Director one day. That is when I met Amy and Brendan. They emailed me and I went to the first meeting. I was the youngest person to start at VUTV. Within two weeks of being on campus, I was on the air. I started in Sports, sophomore year I was the Assistant News Director and going into my Junior year, Brendan suggested that I apply for General Manager. I got it and am so happy that I did. This is now my second year and I wouldn’t change it for anything. I was always known as having been the youngest joining member of VUTV until this year when Blake Harms joined.

Q) What is your favorite Comm class that you have taken so far?

A) My favorite COMM class so far has been Weather and Storytelling with Ellen Bacca. I learned so much that I never would have known– for example, all of the little nuances that come with being on air, impact, what to do when everything is happening, etc. Sometimes you may not realize or learn those things until you are on the job. She helped us to prepare and push ourselves, which is why I believe that we’ve had a 100% job placement over the past 5 years for VUTV.

Q) Is there anything else that you would like to add?

A) Don’t let others and what you do change who you are. The past year has brought many struggles and stress. I could have let that jade me, but I didn’t. Everything goes on– you can’t let it get to you. Ten years ago, I was anxious, hated being looked at, and was bullied (on which I called them out for it). In about 7th grade, I found Star Trek. It taught me that you make your situations and the world better if you want it to be. It’s about how much YOU put into it. Now, I love being the goofy one in the room that helps make everyone else feel comfortable. 

Storm Chasing (2)

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Student Spotlight: Michaela Doyle 

 Michaela Doyle

You can find Michaela’s smiling face all around Schnabel, but typically she can be found in WVUR, where she is the General Manager and has been involved for nearly four years. Michaela’s infectious personality makes you feel instantly uplifted as she explains her passion for the people and relationships that have evolved from her time here in the Department of Communication.

Q) What brought you to Valpo?

A)I transferred to Valpo my sophomore year from Eastern Illinois University where I studied in Speech Pathology. I knew that I enjoyed being around people and started looking into Communication. It was so difficult to find out any information or get involved at EIU, so I started looking at other places. When I visited Valpo, I met Paul Oren, he knew exactly what courses I needed to take, what I would do to get involved in the program, and was able to tell me everything I needed to know about the media organizations. It was just a completely different environment.

Q) What is your dream job?

A)  My dream job is to be a General Manager of a radio station outside of college. I understand that you have to work your way up though. To work at a station on the East or West coast, learning everything/what everyone does and eventually becoming a GM would be my dream. I love helping to create and foster a team environment– it is such a great setting to be in.

Q) What Media Organizations are you involved in?

A) WVUR– I was the News Director for 2 years and then General Manager for 2 years. I also wrote a couple of articles and helped with the circulation of the Torch last year. My primary involvement is with WVUR

Q) What is your favorite Comm class that you have taken so far?

A) That is hard because there are two– Leadership Communication with Lanie Steinwart. I liked how it was run, we covered different leadership styles, how to grow as a leader and various leaders throughout history and their styles. It really helped me grow, see what kind of leader I was, and what style I had. Media in Politics with Paul Oren was also amazing and unique, because of the election and how we were able to cover it and discuss topics as they unfolded.

Q) What is the best piece of advice you have been given by a professor or student while at Valpo?

A)The best piece of advice I was given was from my old faculty advisor for WVUR, Andrew Stem. I had just been elected the GM for WVUR and came to him worried about how I would do. He told me to just relax– that it will be a process, to be patient, learn/absorb as much as I can and eventually it will all fall together. His advice helped me to become the leader I am because I was able to focus and slow down enough to realize that it takes time to learn everything.

Q) What is a favorite memory you have from being in Valpo?

A) The night of the election was like nothing else I’ve experienced or seen. The Torch, WVUR, and VUTV were all live at once in Schnabel. There was convergence with the Torch looking up stats and tweeting out updates, VUTV was live, and we were airing with WVUR. We were all running back and forth to make sure that no one was covering the exact same thing. It was a night I will never forget. We worked together, helped one another out, and the energy was just amazing.

Q) What internships have you had?

A)  I had an internship with Adam’s Radio Group that was from last summer through December 2017. I learned how to track my voice, plan events, promotions, board ops, and more. WVUR is kind of in a little bubble in college radio, so it makes us wonder if it is like that in the real world. I was proud of how similar we were in many aspects but also was able to learn so much about what is different.

Q) Is there anything else that you would like to add?

A) Don’t let fear get in the way of doing something new. I had never done anything like what they do at WVUR before I started (ex. controlling my voice, etc.) but if I had let fear get in the way, I wouldn’t be where I am now.

Student Spotlight: Esmeralda (Emmy) De La Luz

Esmeralda (Emmy) De La Luz

Q) What brought you to Valpo?

A) The summer before my senior year I started with a program that took students to different colleges and we visited Valpo. It was the very first school that I applied to and they were the last to respond. Initially, I was denied, but I don’t take no for an answer so I appealed the decision, submitted with updated test scores, references, etc. and was accepted. When I attended Admittance Day went with sister, Professor Lutze was our guide. We visited The Torch office and I told my sister that I would work there one day. My freshman year, I was in COMM-100 with Andrew Stem and he had paired us into groups. The logo we were given was too small, so I completely recreated it and made it look better. One of my group members happened to be The Torch’s Editor in Chief and encouraged me to apply for the graphic design position since the current graphic designer was graduating. I said yes and have been involved with the Torch ever since. After attending the tour, I knew that Schnabel was where I was meant to be because it just gave me a sense of feeling at home. Not everywhere on campus projects that same feeling

Q) What is your dream job?

A) My dream job would be working for an entertainment magazine. I would love the opportunity to give back to the community, especially helping first-generation college students. I am interested in working with designs but will more than likely work for a non-profit after college to start out.

Q) What Media Organizations are you involved in?

A) The Torch. Although the Torch takes up a lot of my time outside of classes, I’ve learned to love it. I’ve learned how to spend more than 24 hours on a story, starting Torch night at 7:00 P.M. and not leaving the office until 7:00 A.M. with an 8:00 A.M. class to go to. The Torch has shaped so much of my college career and I am so grateful for that.

Q) What is your favorite Comm class that you have taken so far?

A) My favorite class was probably with Lanie Steinwart- it was a Public Relations where we really learned how to work together and know your audience. The class was made up of 18 students and we had a large group assignment that covered crisis management. It was a great experience. I also loved sport reporting with Paul, because I had to opportunity to be a see what it was like being a Sports Beat reporter and interviewing players from my favorite soccer team. It is hard to decide because every year I have a class that I really like.

Q) What is the best piece of advice you have been given by a professor or student while at Valpo?

A) Paul recently said in Capstone class- you only have so many days left of college. Go to your last seminars, basketball games, take as many pictures as you can, because it will be over soon and those are the moments that you will remember the most.

Q) Is there anything else that you would like to add?

A) It’s ok to ask for help. It is ok to be overwhelmed. Write down what you want to do and make sure you do it. It doesn’t’ matter how you get to your goal as long as you get to it. I didn’t really learn that until this year. Even if there are things going on at home, school is your job at the end of the day and it needs to be a priority.

Student Spotlight: Alex Bartelt

Alex Bartelt

Q) What brought you to Valpo?

A) My older brother was attending Valpo, and since I knew that they had a lot to offer through their Astronomy program, it felt like a great match. I quickly realized that studying Astronomy required much more Physics that I had anticipated, but through working with VUTV, I had begun realizing my interest in Communication. After talking to Professor Lutze, I knew that I wanted to officially change my major sophomore year.  

Q) What is your dream job?

A) To start off, I would like to find a TV station to work for (preferably closer to home). I would also like to experiment with film making. Honestly, I just want to be filming and editing things, because it is what I am passionate about. 

Q) What did you want to be when you were 10?

A) I probably wanted to be a police officer. I was always a rule follower, always wanted to do the right thing, and knew that there were people who broke the rules. 

Q) What Media Organizations are you involved in?

A) I have been involved in the Karate Club since my freshman year and my interest in that is what led me to get involved with VUTV. 

Q) What is your favorite Comm class that you have taken so far?

A)My favorite COMM class so far has been Studio Production with Dr. Powell. Although I was part of VUTV and knew how to use quite a bit of the equipment, it was such a great experience to be able to learn even more and help other students in the class who weren’t as familiar with it. I was also able to learn a lot from Dr. Powell. 

Q) What is the best piece of advice you have been given by a professor or student while at Valpo?

A) You have to take responsibility for yourself- to seek help and ask questions. You can’t just expect it to come to you on its own. In this field, there is always something that you can learn, so being willing and open to adapting makes a big difference and can make you stand out. 

Q) What is a favorite memory you have from being in Valpo?

A) My favorite memory would have to be in Advanced Cinema Production when we finished the Ghost movie. After the final scene, everyone cheered and we took a group picture. Those kinds of accomplishments make you proud because you are seeing all of the time and hard work that came to fruition. 

Q) Describe the feelings you had the first time you attended a VUTV gathering. 

A) The first time I learned about VUTV was my freshman year at the Activities Fair on Orientation Day. I went to see my friends who were there to represent the Karate club and ended up stopping by the VUTV booth. The members who were at the booth were very welcoming, eager to answer any questions that I had and even took the time to show me how the camera and some other equipment worked. After that, I was excited to start getting involved with VUTV. 

Q) What internships have you had?

A) The internship that I am currently involved in is with Housing Opportunities. I am working with them to create informational videos. I have already interviewed clients, faculty, and gathered footage of essential housing projects, and their food pantry. It is different than making a new package because it requires a different tone. Since the goal is to encourage the community to make donations to the organization, I am creating titles and choosing the music to reflect the tone of the message that will help them achieve their goal.   

Q) Is there anything else that you would like to add?

A) To make videos look good, the magic happens in the editing. There will rarely be a situation where you will have smooth sailing from start to finish. It is truly a rewarding feeling to have the skills and ability to take something that a client/someone may think is unusable and turn it into something that wow’s them. Taking the ‘B Role’ in this field is actually great because you’re not tied down to one particular thing. You can work with TV, movies, create trailers, and music videos (which I do), etc. As a freelancer, you get the opportunity to work with different clients, environments, and work towards achieving different goals. 

Student Spotlight: Brandi Casada

Brandi Casada

Q) What brought you to Valpo?

A) I spent two years at a junior college before transferring to Valpo. I knew that I wanted to major in Media Broadcasting but initially thought that I would go to Ball State. After receiving an email from Valpo about a transfer scholarship, I decided to check it out (even though I had never heard of Valparaiso before). My mom and I visited the campus and met with Professor Paul Oren for a tour. He was great; down to earth, knowledgeable, and had an approachable personality. By the time we got in the car, my mom already knew that I would end up choosing Valpo because it just felt right.

Q) What is your dream job?

A) My dream job is to produce and direct films. I really want to be in the movie industry. I have always loved movies and even when I was younger I wanted to watch the behind the scenes features on any movie I would watch. I just enjoyed learning how it would take an entire team of people and everything that went into making an hour long movie.

Q) What did you want to be when you were 10?

A) Growing up, I always baked with my grandmother. Cooking/baking was/is a major part of my family. With such a rich family history in baking, I wanted to go to culinary school to become a pastry chef. It wasn’t until I was 16 that I realized my true calling was movies.

Q) What Media Organizations are you involved in?

A) I am primarily involved in VUTV. When I initially transferred, I also worked a little with WVUR but decided that focusing my efforts on what I loved was the best thing to do. It really felt like I belonged. Part of that may have been due to the fact that I came in with a purpose- I knew that as a transfer student, I wanted to get in as much as possible.

Q) What is your favorite Comm class that you have taken so far? That is hard because I love all of Charlie Anderson’s classes. He is so knowledgeable and always puts so much into the class. I enjoy learning all of the information and details about my degree field and how everything works. With that said, Dr. Phillip Powell’s Producing and Directing course has been my favorite. The small class size and amount of experience gained from creating a show from the ground up were unparalleled. We were able to turn the script and characters into exactly what we wanted. Add that to the fact that I was able to work with some of my best friends- I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Q) What is the best piece of advice you have been given by a professor or student while at Valpo?

A) The best piece of advice that I have received since being here at Valpo was in Professor Charlie Anderson’s class. He said, ” Embrace K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Sweetheart) with everything. I realized that was great advice not only in this industry but with life in general. I completely embraced it with everything, because it can be easy to overcomplicate things. If you can do basic well, there’s no need for all of the fluff. 

Q) What is a favorite memory you have from being in Valpo?

A) There are so many great memories, it is hard to decide on just one. So many of them involve Katie Nickolaou. I could tell you many stories, but one of my favorites is when we did a story with the animal shelter. It was the same day as the Spring concert and the last day of filming the Shield. Lakeshore Paws was going to bring in dogs and Katie had asked if I could help. Of course, I said yes- I would be doing what I love while being able to play with puppies- how much better could it get?! Before Lakeshore Paws brought the dogs to the Shield, we had to go to the shelter to get some footage. Everything went well, we had a great time, and the staff was amazing. When Katie and I went to leave, I realized that I needed to get an establishment shot. Katie went to take everything to the car so that we could head over to the Spring Concert as soon as I finished up. After getting all of the footage I needed, we realized that Katie had accidentally locked her keys in the trunk with the rest of our things. We ended up calling a locksmith, then her parents (who told her that they had roadside assistance who could help her for free), so we then called the locksmith back to cancel. We thought to ourselves how funny it would have been if the same locksmith came to unlock the car that we had just called to cancel. Luckily, it wasn’t, but the locksmith even had a difficult time unlocking the car. Finally, we were able to retrieve the keys and make it back right in time for the Spring Concert. We wrapped up the day with the dogs from Lakeshore Paws visiting the Shield. They had a great time as did everyone who was there and the package turned out great. For such a crazy day, it was memorable and involved a lot of laughter.  

Q) Describe the feelings you had the first time you attended a VUTV gathering. 

A)  Usually each semester there is a meet the media night. It allows everyone to meet different student media organizations and get to know more about them. I was invited to attend by someone in one of my classes and was my first time meeting everyone at VUTV. I was just sitting there since I didn’t really know anyone and someone (Alex Bartelt) asked me what my interests were. That immediately started a conversation. It was fun to watch everyone laughing, joking, and having a good time. It was such a welcoming atmosphere. I knew I was somewhere that I belonged because I am usually the first one to show up to something and the first one to leave. That night, I just didn’t want to leave. I remember just feeling so at home and having a sense of belonging there. 

Q) What internships have you had?

A) I am currently interning with the Welcome Project with Professor Liz Weurffel. I am working on video editing- there is so much video that has been compiled over time that I am going through and organizing, but it is going really well and I enjoy working with them.

If I can give a word of advice regarding internships, it would be this: Don’t be afraid to get creative. Finding an internship around here can be hard since it is not a larger city. It is important to think outside the box and doesn’t give up looking for opportunities. That is exactly how I learned about the internship with the Welcome Project. Be bold, trust in yourself and your skills/knowledge enough to ask and just put yourself out there.  

Q) Is there anything else that you would like to add?

A) Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. I was homeschooled, shy, and hated being the center of attention, but that has changed since I came to Valpo. It has changed my life. You have to be bold, proud, and confident in yourself and who you are. As I am getting ready to graduate, with a tear in my eye, I can say that I have found my boldness and I have Valpo to thank for that. I want to thank the department and all of its faculty for making the atmosphere of the Communication Department such a warm and inviting place to learn and grow. They are what has driven and inspired me to be the best me that I can be. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it weren’t for their guidance and friendship.