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Lynda Lowery shares her story with students on their first night in Selma, Ala.

Jan Larson, Ellie Larson, Courtney Kueppers, Bre Lyga and Nick Erickson listened to Lynda Blackmon Lowery Tuesday night talk about her experiences in Selma, Alabama, during the civil rights movement. Lowery was 15 years old when she marched on Bloody Sunday.

Jan Larson, Elyssa Larson, Courtney Kueppers, Breane Lyga and Nick Erickson listened to Lynda Blackmon Lowery (third from left) Tuesday night talk about her experiences in Selma, Ala., during the civil rights movement. Lowery was 14 when she marched on Bloody Sunday.

Editor’s note: A group of UW-Eau Claire students traveled Tuesday, March 3, to Selma, Ala., with Associate Professor of Journalism Jan Larson to report on civil rights issues and the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. They will be in Selma until Tuesday, March 10, and will post updates of what they experience. 


Almost immediately after arriving, we headed over to the Selma Community Church, where Lynda Blackmon Lowery gave a presentation to a small group of students from the University of South Florida, as well as us.

Lowery has lived in Selma for her entire life and was 14 years old when she marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday. She was 19 rows back when mounted state troopers stormed the crowd with tear gas and billy clubs.

Her experiences that day — running from troopers, being beaten so severely that she required 35 stitches, finding her little sister injured and seemingly dead in the arms of another marcher, and ultimately helping her escape danger,  inspired Lowery to want to march to Montgomery to personally show Gov. George Wallace the bandages around her head.

She was scared, but it was something her grandmother said that kept her going, and that was determination over fear. As Lowery said, ‘d’ comes before ‘f’ in the alphabet.

Fifty years later, Lowery now works as a case manager for a mental health institute in the city, but she continues to talk about her experiences from 1965 and promotes her grandmother’s message of mind over matter to continue the fight today.

Lowery will be on stage with President Obama Saturday when the commander in chief visits Selma as part of the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery march.

Forensics has a long-standing winning tradition; coaches, alumni credited for success

Members of UW-Eau Claire's forensics team pose with their trophies after winning the state tournament last weekend at UW-Stout.

Members of UW-Eau Claire’s forensics team pose with their trophies after winning the state tournament last weekend at UW-Stout.

Caitlyn Duley crafted her college search around schools with forensics programs. Her teammate, Elijah Freeman said collegiate forensics found him.

Despite different roads to the program, the two were both successful in helping UW-Eau Claire forensics continue its long streak as state champions last weekend when they competed at UW-Stout.

Freeman was the overall individual state champion and Duley took first in oratory, which landed her a speaking spot at the nation’s oldest forensics tournament in the country, the Interstate Oratory competition, which she will compete at in late April.

Despite their individual success, which will propel each of the communication students to national tournaments, they are each quick to credit their teammates, alumni of the program, and coaches Karen Morris and Kelly Jo Wright for their role in the accomplishments.

The reputation of UW-Eau Claire forensics among other teams around the country and display cases full of trophies in Hibbard Humanities Hall are proof of the program’s success, however, it was uncertain until recently how long of a winning streak the team had at the state tournament, Morris, director of forensics, said.

The UWEC Forensics Program is a nationally ranked forensic program representing UWEC at approximately twenty-seven regular season tournaments across the Midwest and three national tournaments annually.  UWEC Forensics continues their tradition of excellence as the reigning Wisconsin College Forensics State Champions and as a top 20 program at the American Forensics Association National Tournament and a top 10 program at the National Forensics Association Championship Tournament.  The program is funded by UWEC Student Activities and is supported and housed in the UWEC Department of Communication and Journalism.

Due to an old score sheet located by an opposing team’s coach the Blugolds now know for certain the streak as the best in the state is at least 31 years strong.

“It’s the tradition of it,” Morris said of her team’s success. “We want to do well because not only do we not want to let ourselves down but we don’t want to let alumni down.”

Mike Rindo,
 assistant chancellor for facilities and university relations, has his time on the UW-Eau Claire forensics squad to thank not only for skills applicable to his professional life, but also for meeting his wife, he said with a smile.

Rindo, who competed for the Blugolds for four years, said Grace Walsh in part crafted the program’s reputation of greatness. Walsh coached debate and speech at UW-Eau Claire for 36 years, beginning in the 1950s and is now the namesake of the Blugolds’ home tournament.

“She was a legend,” Rindo said of his former coach.

Nick Miller, who graduated from UW-Eau Claire in 2010 with a degree in Public Relations, said his time on the forensics team helped prepare him professionally.

“Confidence. First and foremost that’s what forensics gave me,” Miller said.

Miller, who now works as general manager of LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Chicago, said what sets Eau Claire’s program apart from the pack is the people.

“It’s really second to none. Our coaches develop us as a person first and a speaker second,” he said. “They are far more in tune with turning out good people than just winning.”

Freeman echoed Miller’s words about Morris and Wright, despite the two never being on the team at the same time.

“They uphold the tradition, that’s them,” Freeman said. “They are what makes the team.”

Were you a part of UW-Eau Claire forensics? What was the most memorable part?

PRSSA offers a multitude of opportunities to its members

UWEC's PRSSA chapter has more than 30 members. Here are some of them at their most recent meeting, which focused on perfecting their resumes.

UWEC’s PRSSA chapter has more than 30 members. Here are some of them at the group’s most recent meeting, which focused on perfecting their resumes.

On Tuesday night members of UWEC’s Public Relations Student Society of America chapter gathered with their resumes in hand. At this week’s meeting the group was joined by Career Services for a resume workshop to help members prepare for career conference and apply for internships or jobs.

The highly popular and award-winning organization for students meets three times a month and helps give students the opportunity to get hands on experience, enhance their education, broaden their network and launch their careers.

Katie Miller, secretary of UWEC’s PRSSA chapter, cannot overstate the importance of the organization.

“I wish everyone could experience what we do and how we feel each week after we leave PRSSA,” Miller said. “It is so inspiring to be surrounded by people as passionate as you, and we all want everyone to succeed.”

Miller said the chapter has meetings with professionals, workshops and socials. Each semester they also do PR agency tours. Additionally, PRSSA offers its members opportunities to travel to regional and national conference. To top it all off, they focus on friendships and building relationships with their peers, Miller said.

This year PRSSA welcomed Kate Flehmer from Hiebing, an integrated communication agency in Madison. She is also a UWEC alumni. Jay Edenborg from Mayo Clinic Health System spoke to the group about health care PR. Professors Evan Perrault and Maureen Schriner also were guest speakers.

“PRSSA has made all the difference in my college and professional career,” she said. “I do not think I would have the tools or confidence to put myself out there for jobs and internships if it wasn’t for PRSSA.”

Chapter President Hanna Johnson said the group strives to bring a variety of relevant experiences to its members to offer them “insight into the work world and where they might be someday.”

This year the group sent five representatives to the national conference in Washington, D.C., where they won a “Star Chapter” award, which only 30 chapters in the nation are awarded. Yet this semester, UWEC’s PRSSA will send a group to Chicago for the regional conference.

Johnson said PRSSA has opened many doors for her and provided her with priceless connections.

“PRSSA has helped me to develop the skills and confidence I need to go after my dreams,” she said. “I could not imagine my college career without PRSSA or the people I have met because of it. It has given me invaluable experience that I will forever be grateful for.”

PRSSA is open to all majors. The group meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Have additional ideas on how PRSSA can help prep students for the real world? Let us know in the comments!

Senior journalism student encourages others to go abroad, experience the world

Last July senior journalism major Katy Macek traveled to Nice, France with Associate Professor of Communications and Journalism, Mike Dorsher, and fellow CJ students. Dorsher will lead the trip again this summer to London, Paris and Nice.

— Why did you initially want to go on the trip to France? 

Katy Macek spent July in Nice, France through ieiMedia program lead by Mike Dorsher.

Katy Macek spent July in Nice, France through ieiMedia program lead by Mike Dorsher.

I wanted to go to France because it was a chance for me to study abroad. I had been wanting to but was worried that a semester abroad would set me back and make me have to stay in school an extra semester. The ieiMedia summer program with Mike Dorsher in Nice, France actually set me ahead because of its focus on my major (journalism), which fit into my schedule nicely.

— What was the trip like in terms of balancing class, reporting and free time?
There was definitely more of an emphasis on class and reporting. I learned a lot more in our reporting trips to the Matisse Museum, day trips like the ones to Cannes and Antibes, than I ever did sitting in the classroom. Free time was mostly in the evenings and two weekends we had free, but those were wonderful times to explore Nice and, on the weekends, get away and see other parts of Europe. Overall, I’d say the free time we had to travel and explore was the most valuable learning experience I took away from the trip.

— What kinds of things did you report on?
We did a lot of reporting on the culture of Nice and the other cities we visited. It was kind of like a “slice of life” thing, sort of like “Humans of New York.” While we had a couple of focused assignments, such as some political tweets, most were broader. We got to choose our subjects and the angles on which we were reporting. The professors on the trip were helpful in guiding us if we got lost.

—What was the highlight of the trip for you?
The highlight of the trip for me was definitely just being immersed in another culture I had known very little about. I have never been out of the country and knew how to speak very little French, so getting to interact with people who were so completely different from me on a daily basis was a humbling and beautiful experience. It opened my eyes to how big the world really is, and made me want to continue traveling. The people I had the fortune of meeting were a big part, of course. I made some awesome friends on the trip, and I had the sweetest host mom. She helped me learn French and, when she found out about my love of potatoes, made a different style with every meal.

— Would you recommend others go on the trip? Why?
I would recommend others go to Nice, France. I heard the program was being revamped this year, so I’m not sure how that will affect the experience. If you are going as a journalism major, I recommend it. I learned a lot on my trip. I’m not sure all of it was related to journalism, but I learned a lot about myself and the beautiful culture of Nice.

If you could report abroad, where would you go?

The Importance of Reaching Out: Making connections with UW-Eau Claire alumni

"What's Your CJ Story?" is a magazine featuring CJ alumni produced by Professor  Evan Perrault's CJ 373 course in the fall.

“What’s Your CJ Story?” is a magazine featuring CJ alumni produced by Professor
Evan Perrault’s CJ 373 course in the fall.

This blog post was written by Nicole VandenPlas, a senior mass communication student. VandenPlas reflects on her experience contributing to the first edition of a CJ Department magazine:

As I wrapped up the fall semester of my senior year, the reality of graduation had taken over. I’m currently caught in a mix of emotions ranging from absolute fear to pure excitement. Every time I head home to Green Bay I’m ambushed by family and neighbors with the token senior year question, “So, what are your plans after graduation?” I feel the look of panic and rage cross my face immediately after my brain registers the dreaded question, and my not so confident response is sure to evoke just as much weariness in the mind of the question holder.

After interviewing Sam Lynch, a Blugold alumnus from the communication and journalism department, my answer to the dreaded graduation question hasn’t changed in content, but it has drastically improved in confidence. After graduation Lynch moved to the Twin Cities and began a job, not specifically in his field of study. Through a little bit of travel and corporate networking he landed a job in Nashville, Tennessee as the national account manager as well as the manager of customer service for Do-All Outdoors, a leading provider of innovative hunting and shooting gear.

Although his managerial duties aren’t exactly what Lynch studied in school, the outdoor industry has always been a passion of his, and the professional skill set and communication knowledge he acquired at UW-Eau Claire is relevant in his everyday work.

My full interview with Mr. Lynch is featured in the “What’s Your CJ Story?” magazine. This publication is a collection of alumni profiles written by the students in the Writing for Public Relations course, and offers valuable insight for current and prospective students as they begin to enter the professional working world.

Reaching out to Mr. Lynch and hearing about his journey after college and current career standing has given me hope that I too can find a job in an industry that interests me. His advice to “just go for it” has inspired me to reach outside of my comfort zone in order to open myself up to new opportunities that I may have never considered. I’m confident my mass communication major has



provided me with countless skills adaptable to any career I land in.

You can find the first edition of the magazine, which features the profiles of 23 UW-Eau Claire alumni, here. If there is someone you think would be a great addition to be featured in this magazine, please contact Dr. Evan Perrault (

In the meantime, comment and tell us what’s your CJ story?

Spring semester intern excited to share stories

Greetings! Here at the university students and faculty alike are busy settling in to our new semester. For me, managing this blog and the Facebook page for the communication and journalism department is one of the most exciting parts of the new semester.

Courtney Kueppers, junior journalism student, edits The Spectator in her office. This semester, Kueppers will run the blog as the social media intern for the communication and journalism department.

Courtney Kueppers, junior journalism student, edits The Spectator in her office. This semester, Kueppers will run the blog as the social media intern for the communication and journalism department.

My name is Courtney Kueppers; I am a junior journalism and political science student who enjoys reporting on a variety of topics, finding great, locally brewed coffee and floating down the Chippewa River in the summer.

Two years ago, as a wide-eyed freshman, I started working at The Spectator. The experience has hands down been one of the best things about my college experience thus far. This semester, I am lucky enough to be editor in chief of The Spectator. I am also a producer at Blugold Radio and love the new opportunities and challenges that has brought me.

Off campus, I work part-time at The Leader-Telegram and formerly as their summer intern. As the intern I was able to write about everything from a 90-year-old Chippewa County farmer to university research opportunities. That internship reaffirmed what I thought to be true: I love to tell stories and share them with the world. That’s what I hope to do here this semester!

Through this blog I plan to bring you the stories about those currently and formerly involved with our department. There are a lot of exciting things happening in the communication and journalism department and I’m stoked to share the stories with you! I’d love to hear from you on any ideas for posts as well, so don’t be shy.

Learning through the Winter in Communication and Journalism

Lyga Photo

The three-week UWEC winter session (Winterim) is well underway. Campus is quiet as a few students make their way to class in truly wintry weather (-2o this morning). More students than ever before are taking advantage of the many online courses offered during this session.  CJ is teaching three wholly online courses–listening, research methods, and small group communication. Having a variety of classes available over Winterim allows students to get a few credits ahead while still spending time with family and friends, and perhaps working a few extra hours to save for next semester. Faculty who are not teaching Winterim are busy working on research projects and preparing classes for spring term.

Two UW-Eau Claire journalism majors are spending their “breaks” gaining exciting experience in major news organizations–KSTP-TV in St. Paul and The Washington Post.

Journalism major Breane Lyga is at KSTP-TV in Saint Paul as the Henry Lippold Fellow.  Professor Henry Lippold taught broadcast journalism at UW-Eau Claire and remains a strong supporter of the department and active in the Eau Claire community.  Alumni always have wonderful stories to tell about learning from and working with Professor Lippold.  The annual Lippold Fellowship allows current UW-Eau Claire journalism majors to gain experience in a major market TV news organization.

You can follow Breane’s experience at her blog, Adventures of a 20-something journalist.

Nick EricsonJournalism major Nick Erickson is the Ann Devroy Fellow at The Washington Post. This opportunity is made possible by friends and colleagues of the late Ann Devroy who was a well-known Washington Post staff member and a UW-Eau Claire graduate. Nick will spend three weeks learning about various Washington Post departments, and writing and reporting news.  The department offers special thanks to Mark Matthews, and the Carol Guensburg and Craig Gilbert family, as well as Post Senior Editor Tracy Grant. For a sample of Nick’s work at the Post, see this article on college basketball.

Lippold and Devroy Fellowship alumni tell us what your experiences meant to you.  Alumni who studied with Professor Lippold, share your best stories with us!


Alumnus Dillon Barmore Offers His Advice as a Former December Graduate

Idillon graduated in December 2013 with a degree in Organizational Communication. I began job searching in October and did not land a job until mid February, a couple of weeks after getting married. Yes, getting married jobless was definitely stressful and a time for personal development, to be sure. I currently work as a Customer Operations Analyst for a company called SPS Commerce out of Minneapolis. We provide software based supply chain solutions for retailers, suppliers, third party logistics companies, and anyone involved in the retail supply chain.

My job is essentially customer support for our products and involves a high level of technical analysis and communication skills. My degree helped set me up for success by emphasizing the importance of internal & external communication skills and by giving me the skill set to evaluate and help improve internal processes. As Martha Faye would always say and I can now agree with, communication skills are far and away the most critical skill for success is the workplace.

My advice for December grads is to stick with it if the job search gets tough; persistence will pay off. Focus on your communication skills, leadership potential and excitement to contribute to an organization during interviews. Lastly, SPS Commerce is growing extremely fast and is always hiring; truly an exciting organization to be a part of. Email me at if you would like to discuss opportunities in more detail, I would love to help fellow BluGolds get a foot in the door!

How Abby Reimer Created and Filled a New Position at TV 10

FullSizeRenderMy name is Abby Reimer. I am a sophomore here at UW-Eau Claire and my major is Mass Communication with a public relations emphasis. My minor is in creative writing, which is a big passion of mine. I decided to be a PR major when my mom asked me what I was good at; I had to think for a while before realizing that the ability to make friends easily and be talkative and outgoing is actually a major asset in most job positions, especially in communications. Who knew that my incessant gabbing could be a benefit?

I started working as a news reporter for TV 10 in September. Basically the job position requires one package (short video) per week containing newsworthy information that pertains to Eau Claire. I had never been one to join many organizations, but I got a good feeling from this one the moment I stepped foot in the door. The people I have met and the things I have learned are certainly invaluable. TV 10 also taught me that it is an easy balance between being serious about work and still having loads of fun. For example, if someone is late to a meeting, instead of being yelled at, they are forced to read from children’s books or act out an impromptu puppet show in front of the entire group as punishment.

As my affection for the station grew, so did my frustration that not many students or faculty seemed to know much about the organization. One student I talked to did not know that TV 10 was shown on channel 10, which taught me that when building awareness, information must be as transparent as possible. As a public relations major, I saw an opportunity and pounced. Mustering up a fat seed of courage, I approached the station manager and expressed my interest. I told him that I knew for a fact that awareness about TV 10 was low and that if given the chance, my being a part of the advertising team would benefit the station.

The same night after our meeting, I sent the manager an email that included several of my ideas for getting our name out there. For instance, I suggested posting and tweeting the movie schedule monthly, along with taking movie requests from students via social media in order to get them more involved with the station. Since I’d never chased a position before, I was worried that I’d come off as overly-zealous. Quite the opposite – His response was, “Love the ideas, Abby! They are very outside the box. Glad to see you are really thinking about this.” He told the head of the station about my interest and ideas and informed me a week later that I would be starting a paid position as social media coordinator next semester, a position that currently does not exist.

I learned this year from a coworker at TV 10 that it is beneficial to ask for the job that isn’t offered. According to her, it isn’t necessary to ask for a position that the company already has. Create it yourself. Go to an employer confident and tell them that they need you and why. With employment opportunities being scarce for new graduates, the idea is to show your potential new boss what is missing in his or her company: you. By showing employers how you will be an asset to their company and boldly sharing your thoughts and ideas, a job opportunity could easily present itself as it did for me at TV 10. I greatly look forward to the upcoming semester as both news reporter and social media coordinator.

Abby Reimer

I am So “CJ”: Yingxing Zhang on an Enriching 2014 CVSJA Conference

The CJ blog post this week is written by Yingxing Zhang. Yingxing is an international student from China. He is a senior studying public relations and is set to graduate this December. He took time away from deciding on a graduate school to reflect on his experience planning and helping to run the 2014 Chippewa Valley School Journalism Association conference this semester.

A post from Yingxing Zhang:

As a communication and journalism major, I have spent almost three years at UW-Eau Claire learning how to be a CJ 10818713_593094494147017_965355319_nprofessional. This also involves learning how to introduce the program to people outside of my field by creating a positive image for CJ, given that many people lack a basic understanding of what it all encompasses. My involvement in the 2014 Chippewa Valley School Journalism Association conference put those lessons to the test.

This semester, I have been attending CJ 351. The course is strategic event planning and it provides students a hands-on opportunity to plan and run a real on-campus event. The event is the Chippewa Valley School Journalism Association fall conference which each year invites high school students across Wisconsin to UW-Eau Claire to learn about the communication and journalism program. This year, the activities included campus tours, guest speakers and eight workshops. The workshops exposed the students to a real CJ professional environment by teaching them knowledge and skills such as photography, storytelling, writing, the use of social media and making a yearbook.

As an international student who had no idea about event planning and few experiences with it, everything in this class is new and exciting to me. At the beginning of this semester, 30 students were assigned to 17 different groups to take on specific responsibilities covering all of the necessary parts needed to run an event: design, media, social media, transportation, facility, awards, workshop, guest speaker, volunteer, hospitality, registration, and opening and closing ceremonies, etc. My job was evaluation director; it was more straightforward than other positions and most of my work was done after the event. However, my role made me feel more responsible for the whole planning process since evaluation directors are very important and ultimately tell if the participants’ opinions are truly reflected and if the event was run successfully.


Working with my partner, we designed three different surveys for high school students, their advisors and the workshop leaders in order to assess if certain objectives of the event were met. At the completion of CVSJA, it was hoped the students would:

  • Be able to apply new hands-on skills in communication and journalism.
  • Have greater knowledge of career paths available to them in communication and journalism.
  • Envision themselves as successful college students.
  • Have had an enjoyable day and will feel a sense of community.

More importantly, the event aimed at generating interest among participants in majoring in communication and journalism at UW-Eau Claire along with enhancing the visibility and reputation of the Communication & Journalism Department.

Most of these objectives were met and we successfully left the high school students and advisors with a positive impression as the representatives of CJ professionals. In my mind, besides the hard work of the planning process beforehand, it was also the flexible and concerted cooperation of each group member during the event that made for a fabulous and amazing experience. All of the event planners were highly involved and passionate on the day of the event and assisted each other’s work with helpful support. For example, when I felt helpless and had difficulty in helping my workshop leader, a couple other directors came to the room to give their support and kept telling me “good job, Brian!” This group bonding further inspired me to do my best in running the event and fulfilling my obligations.

The positive feedback from about 101 students and advisors attending really encouraged us, however, that is not the only success we accomplished. One of the benefits of CJ 351 is that it not only teaches students systematic theories of event planning, but more importantly, it allows students to transfer their knowledge into practical skills with hands-on experience. Going through a complete event planning process really enriches the experience. CVSJA strengthened our skills and made us more proficient.

From my perspective, it was a great experience that taught me how to more effectively communicate and work with people. By actively involving myself in the course and event, I feel more proud and excited to tell people, “I am so CJ.” I have become much more confident in sharing my experiences as a student who successfully integrated his cultural background with both the American and CJ culture.

I believe it is events like CVSJA that make communication and journalism particularly appealing. I invite interested readers to learn more about the event by checking out #ImsoCJ tweets from the day and the CVSJA Facebook page.

Yingxing Zhang


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