Editor’s Note: Four Spectator staffers recently attended the Young Invincibles College Journalist Summit. The non-profit group is based in D.C. and represents the interests of 18-34 year olds related to public policy.
Renewing a passion for journalism
By Sami West
I can’t help but revel in the timing of our visit to Washington, D.C. Not only had we just returned from a trip to a journalism conference in Madison, with our heads brimming with ideas and information we were eager to apply to our classes and to our beloved student newspaper, but we are in the midst of what will surely mark a turning point for the practice of journalism. With what seems like more distrust in the press than ever and our nation’s president publicly deeming the press an enemy of the American people, it’s difficult to keep from feeling discouraged about the future of journalism.
Still, I found my passion for journalism to be stronger than ever following the two-day trip. We made the most of our 36 or so hours in the District, spending all of Sunday sightseeing before the conference Monday. After checking in at our hotel, we hopped on the Metro to walk the National Mall in pursuit of the Newseum. There, we had the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the history and practices of journalism across the country; all over the world. I was reminded of just how central the First Amendment is to the premises America was founded on in their First Amendment exhibit, and got an eye-opening look into how some of America’s greatest events and tragedies were covered, like the Civil Rights Movement and all the presidential elections. We ended our day taking in a perfect sunset from the stairs of Jefferson Memorial, and from there, scurrying to the rest of the monuments in the dark. The day, though fleeting, was nothing short of magical.
Monday was spent at the Young Invincibles’ College Journalist Summit. Surrounded by fellow college students, journalists, future politicians and philosophers, it was an enlightening experience in the atmosphere alone. The opportunity to hear from top-tier higher education journalists, as well as Sen. Tim Kaine in the Russell Senate Building were certainly the most exciting parts of the day. I left D.C. with a better understanding of the most prominent issues within higher ed today, and a newfound confidence in reporting on issues I had little knowledge of before. I can’t stop thinking about the beautiful cherry trees, beginning to bloom, and how I too have blossomed since that trip. I look forward to applying all that I’ve learned to my studies and time as editor-in-chief.
Finding Diversity in my Journalism Experience
By Lara Bockenstedt
Unloading the suitcase from Madison and filling it again for Washington D.C., the four of us (Andee Erickson, Gabe Lagarde, Sami West and I) landed Sunday afternoon at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. We spent the afternoon in the Newseum, immersed in their well-known exhibits such as the 9/11 Gallery and the Berlin Wall Gallery, and the newer exhibits too, like the Annenberg Space for Photography’s Refugee exhibit which presented the work of photojournalists around the world covering the refugee crises. We then dashed to make it to the monuments before sunset.
Young Invincibles, the D.C.-based non-profit group that created the journalism summit for students across the U.S., works to empower student activism in issues of higher education and health care. Our itinerary allowed exciting opportunities such as taking part in a Q&A session with a panel of journalists who cover higher ed for media like Politico, and a session with Sen. Tim Kaine. Perhaps the most enriching part of the trip was conversing with students about how varied issues of higher ed are across the country. Overall, it was an experience that diversified my view of journalism and higher ed. I returned more passionate about what I’m studying and eager to apply the knowledge here at UW-Eau Claire.
In case you haven’t picked up a copy of The Spectator in a while, make sure to check out what the staff is up to and how they can help you become a more informed CJ student.
In a recent conversation with the staff members at The Spectator, they noted that one of the biggest pushes for the publication this year is to have a larger online presence. What does this mean for students? This means that all of the content that used to come out once a month is now put out online as fast as they can write it! No more waiting for campus details and stories. The best way to check out what the staff is writing about would be to follow the link listed below and see what they have been up to with their new online look. Also be sure to check out what they are up to through their Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.
In addition to putting out new material in a more tech savvy way, it should be noted that staffing changes often at The Spectator and that new writers and editorial staff are always welcome. Not a journalism major? Not to worry. The Spectator is currently working with interns from PR and advertising to help push the publication to an even more online friendly place for our student readers. Although some prior writing experience is a plus, major and career path shouldn’t stop you from applying to work with The Spectator. Like any organization, The Spectator thrives when students have a variety of perspectives and skills.
If you would like to check out The Spectator online, see the links listed below:
Welcome to summer in the Department of Communication and Journalism. We’ve sent our 2016 graduates on their way into the world, we’ve started welcoming students to their summer classes, and in a few short weeks incoming first year students arrive on campus for orientation. This week, integrated strategic communication major Jessica Wicklund introduces us to this semester’s edition of “What’s your CJ Story?”
Rest Easy: Success is Waiting for You
As a communication and journalism student witnessing seniors beginning to pack up their University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire swag and say their final goodbyes, I have envisioned a future in public relations more than ever before.
Prior to finding my niche in public relations, I began brainstorming major options such as business, chemistry, life coaching, educational counseling – I had exhausted all possibilities. After meeting a few public relations students, I was convinced that I had found people who shared similar passions and goals.
A rush of emotions fell over me as I spoke over the phone with public relations alumna, Anna Moegenburg, for an assignment in my CJ 373 class. Originally planning to relocate to New York, California or anywhere but the Midwest, Anna found herself working at Hiebing, an integrated marketing and advertising agency in Madison as a digital coordinator.
Anna’s biggest piece of advice was to live in the present and to not be afraid to make mistakes. Her honest words spoke to me in a way that I could digest without question. “You will dedicate more hours than you plan on, but the result is worth it all,” she explained.
Speaking with someone who had taken the exact same courses, walked on the same sidewalks and had similar career aspirations, helped me reform my vision post-graduation. Anna provided me with advice for multiple situations that I may encounter in life.
Things I can be sure of:
- Coffee will remain a best friend
- Networking pays off
- You get what you put in
- Work is called work for a reason
With the help of the communication and journalism department, I am ready to face success and failure in my future. Both are mysteries but inevitable. Both are terrifying but welcome. Both are what my professors, cohorts and family have prepared me for.
Along with 28 other communication and journalism alumni, Anna’s story is published in the spring issue of “What’s Your CJ Story?” – a magazine written by the students of CJ 373 (Writing for Public Relations) whose spring issue features alumni who have graduated with a mass communication degree with an emphasis in public relations. If you are feeling uncertain about your journey or how your story will unfold, take a look at this semester’s magazine to gain real-world insight from our own alumni.
As graduation sits just over a week away for the large group of seniors that will walk across the stage in Zorn Arena, many are in a state of panic, and some are relaxed.
For a CJ student like me I could be in a stage of panic, but after four years of learning how to become a better communicator, writer, editor and professional in general, I can sit back and relax.
I can relax because I know I am more than prepared for my career that awaits me. Prepared because of the classes I took, the professors who mentored me, the internships and jobs I held and the relationships that I made.
Opportunities are aplenty in the CJ department, thanks to the dedication of faculty and alumni to create these opportunities for students.
For me it was professors like Jan Larson and Mike Dorsher, as a journalism student, that were able to shape me into who I am today, jobs like mine with the Spectator and as the Social Media Intern for the department and every single course I took along the way.
Along with the professors and the courses, another thing that a lot of students seem to forget about during their time in the CJ department is all of the amazing scholarship opportunities they have.
The department offers a ton of great scholarships that can fit any type of CJ major. For me it was the Henry Lippold scholarship for excellence as a Spectator staff writer early on in my time at UW-Eau Claire.
This recognition early in my journalism studies pushed me to become an even better journalist and gave me extra funds to help pay for school.
As I came into my senior year one thing that I lacked yet was professionalism. How do I apply for jobs? How do I interview correctly? How do I dress professionally? These were all questions I asked myself.
Through my work with my communication and journalism professors, these questions were answered.
I will come out of UW-Eau Claire with a journalism degree. But the degree has so much more behind it thanks to the CJ department.
Whether it is my plethora of strong communication skills, professionalism or drive to succeed. Some day it will all pay off in my career.
So now as I prepare for my post graduate internship as a producer with the Post-Crescent back home in Appleton, I take all of these things that I have learned as a student in the CJ department and bring them along with me for the ride.
It’s been a fun four years CJ department!
Communication Studies major Jake Wrasse is completing his 2015-2016 term as president of the UW-Eau Claire Student Senate. He will be succeeded by another communication major–Ashley Sukhu who was recently elected president for the 2016-2017 academic year. Here they discuss the role of communication knowledge and skills in effective leadership.
Organizational communication student Ashley Sukhu recently was elected as the next Student Senate President at UW-Eau Claire. Sukhu reflects on how her communication skills have allowed her to run such a successful campaign for her presidency, and how they will help her throughout her presidency.
How have communication skills been important in the process of running for president this past semester?
While running for president, I utilized a lot of my communication skills. As I interacted with students, I would watch their body language to see how receptive they were to the messages we were sending. When students seemed disengaged, we would change our tactics. We found that students were most receptive when we tried to have conversations. Even though they initially may have been bothered, by the end of the conversation a lot of students seemed more receptive to the role of Student Senate and shared governance.
How will communication skills continue to be important as you take on the presidential role with the University?
Communication, to me, is the most important skill for someone in the presidential role. As I will be working with students, administration, and legislators it is necessary for me to be able to create messages that align with the views of all. There are many ways we can improve our communication with all of these other entities. One of my goals for the upcoming year is to create higher involvement and engagement of Student Senate and the shared governance process. I would like to see more student input in the local, national, and even international conversations.
How has your CJ coursework been helpful and how can it continue to be helpful to you in this position?
In each CJ course I have had I have been able to learn about different models of communication. The Linear Model explains communication in a somewhat simple way. There is a sender, and there is a receiver. What I think is most important about this model is that no matter what the intent of the sender, it is ultimately up to the receiver to decode the message. As I will be the sender of messages, I will need to remember this and recognize and understand the perspectives of the receivers.
Additionally, the 5 problem solving methods of avoidance, accommodation, competition, compromise, and collaboration are going to be important in moving forward. As much as I would always like to collaborate, there will be times to compromise.
Why is having strong communication skills in today’s society something that employers love to see and something that will take you far?
What I love most about communication is everyone has to do it. It is impossible for me to go a day without communicating. Even if I am walking around campus with a smile on my face that is a form of communication. To get careers, we have to communicate. It is a huge part of the process of getting the dream job.
Because communication takes form in many ways, it is arguably the most important skill. Though each person will have different ways of communicating, whether it be verbal or nonverbal, employers want it in employees.
How do you think this role as Student Senate President will help you as a communicator?
This role will help me be a better communicator because it will provide me with opportunities to practice my communication skills. There are opportunities to enhance many areas of communication like writing professionally, having casual conversations with students, and public speaking. The opportunities to enhance my skills are endless.
What are you most excited for as president?
Easy. I love people, and every experience I have working with people is joy and excitement for me.
Senior communication studies student Jake Wrasse is the outgoing Student Senate President. Wrasse reflects on his his communication skills and how they helped him during his time as president and can help him in his future after graduation.
How have your communication skills been important during your presidency?
As Student Body President, I’ve always felt that is was important I kept the fact that I’m the president of the whole student body, and not just people who agree with me, at the front of my mind. Being able to communicate effectively, professionally, and fairly were all crucial in the difficult situations I encountered during my term (and in the past two years where I served as Vice President and Intergovernmental Affairs director). If you can relay your points respectfully and actively listen to the person you’re speaking with, you’re infinitely more likely to build trust in that relationship and, as a result, get better results.
Being a competitor on the UW-Eau Claire forensics team was also a huge advantage for me in my work advocating with legislators at the city, state, and federal level. Forensics categories like Impromptu, Extemporaneous and Persuasive speaking trained me to speak well and with conviction off the cuff, which helped me convey student interests to legislators effectively during the midst of the UW System budget cuts last year. Also, it doesn’t hurt to have a communication background when you encounter a ‘hostile’ legislator or staffer who vehemently opposes your perspective on an issue!
How has your CJ coursework been helpful for you as the president?
To an extent, this plays into my communication skills as well. My Communication and Journalism courses, particularly ones dealing with journalism, communication theory and organizational communication, lent themselves to everyday aspects of my position. My background as a journalist in high school and my journalism classes helped me understand how to effectively engage the media, which helped Senate engage with the community by being featured in television, radio, and newspaper articles. Communication theory provided a valuable understanding of how individuals and groups make communicative choices, which helped me enhance the annual Student Senate retreat to be more inclusive and productive. This, and my work in organizational communication and the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People model, helped me adjust to the task of overseeing, directly or indirectly, Student Senate’s 25 paid employees.
Why is having strong communication skills in today’s society something that employers love to see and something that will take you far?
With personal communication being easier to broadcast via the internet and social media, people who also now how to make a persuasive argument or display high emotional intelligence while communicating in person are extremely valuable to employers and communities. Being who can effectively communicate are needed in all fields, and in every unit of any company. Graduates with good communication skills will be more impressive in interviews and naturally build influence among their peers, making them more likely to be hired and become leaders.
How did the role as Student Senate President help you as a communicator?
My extensive legislative relations work with the Senate has given me real insight into the nature of state and federal politics, which only increases my ability to effectively engage legislators. I’ve learned how to give speeches outside of a Forensics context and, in the process, spoken to crowds in excess of 1,000-2,000 people. My entire experience as President has given me more confidence in my professional skills and made me less hesitant to use my voice to help other people.
What are your future plans after graduation?
Next year I’ll be a graduate student at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. I’ve also accepted a graduate assistantship, which will have me working with the JMU Forensics Team as an assistant coach and teaching Fundamental Human Communication to freshmen. I’m graduating from UW-Eau Claire with a BA in Communication Studies with a rhetoric emphasis, and a minor in political science.
What changes would you like to see Sukhu make on campus during her time as president? Feel free to drop a comment below.
By Trent Tetzlaff
As one of five graduating seniors on the UW-Eau Claire forensics team, Elijah Freeman will be missed.
Freeman helped lead his team to a 12th place finish at the National Forensics Association tournament, a 17th place finish at the American Forensics Association tournament and was selected to represent UW-Eau Claire and Wisconsin at the Interstate Oratory Contest last week. After four years on the team though, Freeman’s participation as a competitor has come to an end.
More than anything that came with the competition, whether it was the trophies or the national recognition, Freeman said what he will miss the most is how tight-knit the team was.
“I will miss the camaraderie of the team and spending time with my teammates and my wonderful coaches Karen Morris and Kelly Jo Wright,” he said. “I think what I enjoyed the most was the people and all the memories and good times we shared.”
Freeman isn’t the only alumnus of the program that felt a close connection to the program after his time was over on the stage though.
Director of Forensics, Karen Morris said that a large number of alumni continue to support the program year after year because of what it did for them as people. She said these alumni travel with the team and even help students prepare for tournaments, working around their own busy schedules.
“We always have amazing alumni support and this year we took five of them with us to nationals,” she said. “They play a big part in helping build up the team and continue to work with the kids, every year it will be that way.”
This season, which was Morris’s 19th with the team saw a group that was extremely top-heavy with experience she said.
The team geared the season for the five seniors to be able to thrive, but realized by the end of year that they needed more than just those five to win state and do well at nationals.
“At state is when we had a big team meeting and that’s when I told them I needed three things from this team,” she said. “I needed three trophies, the championship trophy from state, I needed a trophy from AFA and I needed a trophy from NFA, and people stepped up and we brought back the trophies.”
Morris said she was satisfied with the team’s performance overall this season as they won their 32nd consecutive state championship and placed in the top 20 at both national tournaments.
The team will replace the five seniors with eight new freshmen, which Morris said is a really large incoming class for the program, meaning that next season will most likely be a rebuilding year.
In this year of rebuilding, Morris said the upperclassmen on the team will have to step up, including sophomore Sydney Tupy, to help guide the team to nationals once again, especially since Eau Claire will be the host of next year’s NFA tournament.
Freeman said he has no doubts that the winning legacy of Eau Claire forensics will continue far into the future because of the team’s deep history and strong coaching staff.
“I think the future of the team is bright because like I said, we have wonderful coaches who know their stuff,” he said. “They have been great at their jobs long before I came to Eau Claire and will continue that legacy long after I leave.”
Have any memories regarding the UW-Eau Claire forensics team? Feel free to drop a comment below.
By Trent Tetzlaff
Although Terence Samuel, the Washington politics editor at the Washington Post never had the opportunity to work with Ann Devroy, he said during his time with the Post he has learned more than enough about what kind of journalist she was.
A new generation of Washington Post editors and journalists may not have worked with University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire alum Ann Devroy, but they certainly feel her influence, the 2016 Devroy Forum speaker said.
“All these years later, to this day almost two decades after she’s left us she remains the standard that we try to live up too,” Washington Post Politics Editor Terence Samuel said. “She is the example of how we are to conduct ourselves and how we honor the public trust that is serious journalism.”
Samuel spoke to a crowd full of community members, journalists, political scientists and students alike during the 19th annual Ann Devroy Memorial Forum in Schofield Auditorium Thursday night.
Samuel’s speech, titled “Responsible Reporting in a Social Media Age” covered everything from stories about Ann Devroy’s journalistic skills, to Twitter’s ties with political reporting and the importance of truth telling in journalism today.
One of the biggest changes in the world since Devroy’s time, Samuel said, is the internet. The internet, he said has completely revamped journalists lives and work. The Post staff no longer calls The Washington Post a newspaper, but a publication or media outlet, he said.
“I believe the internet is the future of journalism, and that future is now,” he said.
Samuel recalled being in the D.C. newsroom earlier this week celebrating a Pulitzer Prize in national reporting. That project consisted of a reported database containing information about every person killed in the US in 2015 by a law enforcement office.
Most of the leads for the cases came off of social media like Twitter, he said, and the reporting then followed.
“Social sharing was key to getting a lot of that reporting done,” he said. “Serious and social can exist, must exist and they do coexist.”
As the speech went on, Samuel began to explain how Devroy stressed the truth, or what he calls the core “journalistic mission.”
Whether the truth is delivered through traditional means, or through social media, Samuel said, it stands above all else.
Samuel said Devroy pushed as hard as she could to get to the truth and would accept nothing less. He said one of her former colleagues at the Post said she would push so hard for the truth while covering the White House because she knew she was only getting about 10 percent of what was actually going on within the confines.
“Of course if Ann was getting 10 percent, everyone else was getting closer to five because she was getting more than everybody else,” he said. “I also suspect that if she thought she was getting 10 it was probably closer to 15 or 20.”
Although Samuel’s speech and question and answer session took up a majority of the forum, sophomore journalism and geography major, Andee Erickson, also received recognition as she was announced as the 2016 Ann Devroy Fellow.
Erickson, who will complete an internship at the Post next winter break, said the experience with Samuel was one-of-a-kind and inspired her even more to keep working hard to improve her skills.
“It’s very motivating being in Ann Devroy’s shoes and other alumni shoes such as Courtney Kueppers,” she said. “I know I have things to work on such as information gathering which Ann Devroy was really good at, and it will be special to get to continue to work on that at the Post.”
Professor of Communication and Journalism Jan Larson said Erickson was someone that really stood out to the selection committee and has the skills to continue to get better as a journalist.
“Andee stood out as a Devroy applicant for her enthusiasm and committment to upholding the journalism standards Ann Devroy exemplified,” she said. “We look forward to seeing her grow as a journalist and to the contributions she’ll make with her involvement in student and local media.”
Larson said Erickson combining her knowledge of journalism and geography was something that the selection committee liked, especially if she is able to continue to tie the two together.
Have any questions or comments on this year’s forum? Feel free to leave a comment below.
By Trent Tetzlaff
Terence Samuel, The Washington Post’s Washington politics editor will visit the UW-Eau Claire campus on Thursday, April 21 to give a speech titled “Responsible Reporting in a Social Media Age” at the 19th annual Ann Devroy Forum.
The 7 p.m. forum in Schofield Auditorium is a free event and open to the public. Samuel will spend the day speaking to journalism classes and the media before the forum takes place.
The winner of the Ann Devroy Fellowship will also be announced during the forum. The winner receives a three-week fellowship at the Washington Post over winter break.
In Samuel’s position with the Washington Post, he makes the decisions on what should be covered concerning the White House, Congress and the 2016 elections. The timing of his speech is important because it is an election year, Professor of Communication and Journalism Jan Larson said.
“Given that it is an election year, and all of the crazy things that have been happening in the political process I think he is going to have a lot to say about the job of a journalist, covering politics and particularly he is going to focus on social media,” she said.
Along with his work for the Washington Post, Samuel also is the author of The Upper House: A Journey Behind the Closed Doors of the U.S. Senate, and was one of the writers included in Best American Political Writing 2009.
After graduating from the City College of New York, Samuel was the national correspondent with The Philadelphia Inquirer and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and chief congressional correspondent at U.S. News & World Report before moving to the Post.
Larson said Samuel truly is a journalist who has worked his way up with a number of news organizations through the ranks to his current position editing politics with the Post.
During this election season Larson said many candidates are tweeting and trading insults back and forth and seeing how that information is covered is something that has been interesting.
“It has been interesting just looking at the Washington Post how they have captured people’s tweets and sometimes they don’t even comment on them they just put them in the story,” she said. “So I think this continues to develop as a part of our reporting process, how we engage readers based on social media reporting.”
As a whole Larson said she thinks the Devroy Forum is a great learning experience for student journalists at UW-Eau Claire because it shows them what they can do with their degree from the program.
“I think the forum is an inspiration for young student journalists,” she said, because it reminds them that from this program we have sent out a number of hard working, committed journalists who have went on to cover a variety of important stories both in small towns, cities, states, and the national level.”
Ellis Williams, a senior journalism major said the Devroy Forum is simply a special night that lets journalism talents be shown.
“I’ve watched the Devroy Fellowship change lives and give some of my good friends a platform to show the world their talents they’ve honed at UW-Eau Claire,” he said. “It’s a special night for the CJ Department and an event I look forward to every year.”
Have any memories from past forums? Feel free to drop a comment below.
By Trent Tetzlaff
In the spring of 2015 Eau Claire Marathon runners had the opportunity to be part of the inaugural Blugold Mile. A mile stretch through UW-Eau Claire’s lower campus filled with over 65 cheering student organizations, multiple water stations and a galore of fans.
The organizations involved set up shop within the campus mall and play music, spray water and cheer on runners through the mile stretch of campus.
Over 2,500 runners crossed through the mile as runners of the marathon or half marathon race in early May.
On May 1, 2016 the second annual Blugold Mile will come to life once again on the Eau Claire campus. One of this year’s Blugold Mile event planning interns Rachel Keenan said they expect over 3,000 runners and hope for more than 100 student organizations to be present.
Keenan, a senior organizational communication major is one of four Blugold Mile interns this spring. The internship positions include two event planning interns, a media relations intern and a social media intern.
In her position as an event planning intern, Keenan said she is in charge of putting together a lot of the event including booking many of the student organizations.
“Splitting the work between myself and the other event planning intern (Jillian Manion), we each take on about 90 student organizations and lead them through a process of meetings to obtain the goal of having their members participate in the Blugold Mile,” she said.
Along with this, Keenan said she is also responsible for promoting the university’s distance running class through digital media, and also continuously working to find ways to improve the rather new event.
Keenan said in her position she is able to put many skills she has learned in her organizational communication studies to good use.
“I use intentional strategic message design when I change every email to fit the organization I am contacting,” she said. “I also use small group communication skills during our team meetings when we need to brainstorm the next big idea and I use leadership training when offered a chance to head a new project or speak to the members of a student organization. The list goes on and on.”
Junior organizational communication student Meghan Hosely was able to put her not only her communication skills to good use when she became the Blugold Mile’s media relations intern this spring, but also her writing skills.
As the media relations intern, Hosely creates content and digital media through articles to capture an audience surrounding the Blugold Mile and the Eau Claire Marathon.
Hosely said she generates story ideas from two different places. One is by going to the distance running class and learning about different runners while the other is through student organizations.
For example, Hosely wrote a piece she wrote on a student in the distance running class who is using the class and marathon to train for soccer tournaments over the summer.
What drew Hosely into applying for the internship was the ability to create her own story ideas and to put her writing skills to use for an organization.
“I think being able to find stories on my own is a new challenge and I really like that,” she said. “I also have found a niche when it comes to writing for sports like cross country and track so I like that I am able to make running sound interesting for readers.”
Although Hosely has been able to put skills gained while working at the Spectator to good use while working for the Blugold Mile, she also has been able to use her organizational communications skills she said.
But more than anything, she said what she has learned can also help her in a future career after graduation next year.
“I get to advocate for the Blugold Mile and the Eau Claire Marathon and being active and running is something I am really passionate about,” she said. “That’s really what I want to do is get other people inspired and that’s what I am trying to do through my stories.”
Running the marathon? Have any questions regarding the Blugold Mile, or CJ internship opportunities? Drop a comment below if so!
By Trent Tetzlaff
Not many people can say they were able to spend nearly 50 years of their life working for one institution doing what they love everyday.
However, Dr. Sally Webb, professor emerita and former development officer at UW-Eau Claire was able to do just that.
Webb came to Eau Claire in 1965 to teach public speaking in what was then the speech department with just one year of teaching experience under her belt. Despite her youth, Webb learned on the fly and continued to teach public speaking until 1983 when she took time off to earn her doctoral degree at the University of Texas at Austin in Organizational Communication she said.
Webb taught Organizational Communication at the University once she returned from Texas, and also took a few years later in her career to teach in Harlaxton, England and Dalkeith, Scotland. Webb said she also played a role in recruiting students to study abroad trips like the Dalkeith trip and the South Africa study abroad trip.
During her time with the University, Webb founded multiple scholarships. Four in the CJ Department and one outside of the department beginning in 1992.
These departmental scholarships include, an international student tuition scholarship, an organizational communication tuition scholarship, a study abroad scholarship for organizational communication students and a diversity tuition scholarship.
Webb said what made her originally want to become a scholarship donor was her love for the University and more specifically the CJ Department as a whole.
“I would say most donors including myself give because they have good feelings about the university or institution they are giving too,” she said. “I had a very good experience teaching here and have become very fond of students and faculty here over the years, so I wanted to give back.”
Webb said one thing that stands out about the scholarship program with the CJ department over others at the university is the wide range of scholarships offered and that the department works to encourage all students to apply and push to get scholarship winners to interact with donors.
Along with this Webb said, CJ Academic Department Associate Judy Gatlin, has been a very important piece in making the CJ scholarship program run so smoothly over the years.
Most important to Webb though she said, are the thank you letters and emails that she receives from students in the department which only make donating much more rewarding to her.
“There is a great joy in hearing from alumni,” Webb said. “Every once and awhile I will get a note or an email saying “you probably don’t remember me” but then they go on to thank me for what a scholarship did for them, or even for just a memory from class.”
Since Webb’s multiple scholarships were created years ago, many students have received these awards to help pay tuition and fees whether it may be abroad or at the University.
Erin Brault, a junior double major in organizational communication and Spanish received the Sally A. Webb Study Abroad Tuition Scholarship for Organizational Communication this past fall and said she used the scholarship money to help her to travel abroad to Valladolid, Spain this spring.
Brault said the scholarship not only has allowed her to travel, but it also has helped her grow as a student.
“I’m very grateful for the scholarship, especially because studying abroad has already become a major highlight of my college career,” she said. “Furthermore, it’s impacted my ability to grow as both a student and individual.”
Brault also said the study abroad experience made possible by the scholarship has allowed her to fully combine and use both of her majors effectively.
“Everyday is a new experience, and it’s proved helpful in terms of learning how to communicate and interact effectively with a variety of people in a wide range of settings,” she said. “Something that goes hand-in-hand with both my Spanish and Organizational Communication majors.”
Although Webb isn’t lecturing within the confines of Hibbard Hall anymore or working with students one on one to improve their communication skills, she continues to be one of the biggest donors to the scholarship program in the CJ Department year after year.
And for students like Brault scholarships are among the most important things that a student can receive while in school.
“Scholarships are important because many college students see a dollar sign in front of everything, which is understandable with the increasing amount of debt we are incurring,” she said. “However, experiences like these do not come around for the rest of your life.”
Do you have questions regarding scholarships? Did a CJ scholarship have a significant impact on your experience at UW-Eau Claire? Leave a comment below!