On Wednesday, Nov. 4, roughly 100 high school students, staff, and UWEC students in Professor Mary Hoffman’s event planning class attended the 2015 conference of the Chippewa Valley School Journalism Association (CVSJA). The event, held in Davies Student Center at UW-Eau Claire, is used to teach high school students more about career opportunities in the fields of communication and journalism. It also gives them the opportunity to visualize themselves in a college setting, and to increase their interest in attending college in general.
Beginning in September, Hoffman’s students contacted caterers, confirmed parking and transportation, coordinated with speakers, created graphics and promotions, and tried to get inside the minds of high school journalists. Along the way they also learned how to plan community events. Students agree that the class teaches skills that will be put to use in their future careers.
Holly Ordinans, a senior student in Hoffman’s class, was the hospitality director for the CVSJA event. When asked about CVSJA and the purpose of the event, Ordinans said that it not only allows students to attend workshops with professionals from the CJ field to learn more, but also enables them to interact one-on-one with the current CJ students. “We want them to envision themselves attending college, and bringing them to UWEC allows them to see that as a realistic option for their future,” Ordinans said.
Another event planning student, Matt Zavoral, was the assistant director of operations for the event. Zavoral said that one of his biggest takeaways from the event has been the importance of determining the objectives for all the attendees early in order to effectively prepare the whole event. Both Zavoral and Ordinans said that the major challenge in planning this event was, surprisingly, communication.
Communicating in a way to receive necessary feedback is a challenge that Zavoral had in his positition while trying to get feedback from high school students, while Ordinans’ main challenge was coordinating with the other event planning students, since it is such a large group trying to successfully execute this event. Both students overcame these challenges, saying the event was executed as planned, and the high school students were engaged. A survey taken after the event by the high school students revelaed that most had learned something new about the CJ field. Overall, Ordinans and Zavoral stated that these challenges have better prepared them to attack communication problems head-on; these are challenges that can be turned into learning experiences they can apply to their communication and journalism careers.
Hoffman, who attend the event as a high school student, said she enjoys watching her students put what they learn in class into action and is also pleased by the amount of pride and commitment they show for the event. “Students really focus on their jobs and take ownership of the day. The event couldn’t happen without the work of the students in CJ 355.”
To learn more about CVSJA, visit: https://www.uwec.edu/CJ/news/CVSJA.htm
Alumni: Do you have any stories about communication problems that helped build your problem-solving skills? Let us know in the comments!