Communication Studies Student Named Finalist For Ryan Seacrest Cover Contest

17 Oct

by Shannon French

Ohio’s Got Talent competition winner Marina Strah of Westlake is now a top-three finalist for the Ryan Seacrest Cover Contest for her YouTube cover of Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off.”

“Two days after Ohio’s Got Talent, I come home from class to unwind and check my email, and I see an email from Ryan Seacrest. My first thought was that it was spam,” Strah said. “But I open it, and it said I was selected by the Ryan Seacrest production team for the Ryan Seacrest cover contest for my cover of Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake it Off.’”

The contest is trending at number two on Seacrest’s website, Supporters can vote for her on the website. The online contest will announce the winner Monday, October 20.

Strah, a communication studies major at Kent State University, said talent scouts picked eight artists from YouTube they think best covered particular songs. Next, there were weeklong rounds of voting for each cover.

Strah admitted she did not expect to make it this far in the competition. “I was not expecting to even make it to the top five because I have the smallest following on YouTube with about 1,500 subscribers; every other artist has thousands and thousands,” Strah said.

“It’s been crazy. I don’t think I’ve fully grasped it yet, especially when I think about how fast everything has happened. First, I unexpectedly win Ohio’s Got Talent, my first ever competition, then I am entered into a contest with Ryan Seacrest,” Strah said. “Never in a million years did I think I would ever be associated with this person, let alone have my face all over his website. Now, I’m getting ready to start recording my first ever album. Just to know that I’m one step closer to actually achieving my dream feels really good.”

Shake It Off Marina StrahStrah said her ambitions regarding a music career are recent even though she has been involved with music since about age 12 when she learned to play the drums. “This all started about 3 years ago, during my freshman year of college,” Strah said. “I just picked up playing the guitar and singing went along with it. My entire family is so supportive and they always tell me, ‘If you’re going to go for it, go for it. Don’t hold back.’”

Strah said the combination of talent and good communication skills will help turn her musical ambitions into a career after college.

“Everything I’m learning in my communication studies and public relations courses I’m using on a daily basis,” Strah said. “It’s taught me how to communicate and interact with an audience. You’re always on your toes in communication studies, which I love because it’s a real-life experience. The skills I’ve been learning have directly translated into a music career, which is more than I could ever ask for.”

“I’ve been extremely lucky to have talked to some of my biggest inspirations in music,” Strah said. “They told me to never treat this as something that isn’t tangible and not to be too hard on yourself or put limits on yourself before you even know what you’re capable of.”

What’s It Like To Be A Senior?

6 Oct

by Chelsey Elkins

Chelsey ElkinsMy first week as a senior at Kent State flew by quicker than I could have ever imagined. I could not believe it would be the last first day of school for me. As a freshman, you sit in your first class thinking that four years of college is going to take forever, but before you know it, you’re a senior thinking about graduation.

Senior year is definitely everything I thought it would be: slightly stressful, lots of assignments, readings and homework. It’s nice to know that I am in the homestretch…I’m almost done with my undergrad!

I really enjoyed going to all my classes that first week; all the things I am learning about are things that I love. I am very excited to be graduating soon and possibly going on to grad school.

It is also cool to see my dad excited for his first child to graduate college at his alma mater! I am so proud to be a student at Kent State University. It has given me numerous opportunities that have shaped me into the person I am today.

COMM Student Shares Her WhyCCIKent Story

29 Sep

by Amanda Azzarelli

When brainstorming a topic to write about for my first post on the WhyCCIKent blog, it seemed fitting to share my “Why CCI Kent” story.

Why I chose CCI Kent
As a senior in high school, I had no idea what the future had in store for me. I knew I did not understand science, and I could not do simple math without counting on my fingers. I knew I liked to write, and I was good at talking to people. I did not know how any of this translated into a career. When filling out my application for Kent State University, I was prompted to pick a major. After doing a little bit of research on the KSU website, I did something I don’t typically do: I made a spontaneous decision. Normally, I spend a lot of time analyzing (possibly over-analyzing) all of my options before I decide on one. But this time, overwhelmed by the magnitude of this decision, I said to myself, “Hmm, Communication Studies sounds good.” And that was that.

Amanda and friends Kristen Kobe (left) and Alyssa Mazey (right) at the 2014 YouToo Social Media Conference.

Amanda and friends Kristen Kobe (left) and Alyssa Mazey (right) at the 2014 YouToo Social Media Conference.

Why I stayed at CCI Kent
During the second semester of my freshman year, I was enrolled in the course Foundations of Communication. Part of this course was giving a presentation about why I chose to be a Communication Studies major. I felt embarrassed of the answer to that question. All of the other students in the class chose Communication Studies because they had their futures planned out. I picked it almost randomly because I didn’t know what else to pick. I had no idea what I would say in my presentation until I started thinking about all the classes I had taken so far. In that moment, I realized it didn’t matter what brought me to CCI. All that mattered was that I was here. So what if my decision had been spontaneous? That spontaneous decision turned out to be one of the best decisions I have made.

Why CCI Kent is perfect for me
Starting off my junior year, I still don’t have my future planned out…and that’s okay. A degree in Communication Studies is versatile enough that I can apply it to almost any career I decide on. I have narrowed down my concentration to Public Communication and added on minors in Interpersonal Communication, Organizational Communication, and Public Relations. While I am unsure of what direction I want to go in with these degrees, I am confident that I am in the right field because I love all of the courses I am taking. No matter what the future holds for me, I know my experiences with CCI Kent will prepare me for it!

A Kent State Family: Going To School With A Sibling

16 Sep

Meghan and Kayby Meghan Caprez

I’ve always gone to school with my sister Kay. We’re two years apart in age and grade, but no matter what, we’ve always ended up at the same school. After attending our combined elementary and middle school, she decided to go to high school with me. After attending high school, she decided to follow me to Kent State.

I love my sister. We share the same interests and hobbies, so we’re constantly chatting about the most recent Disney movie or the next Broadway musical that will be at Playhouse Square. But having a sibling with you on campus has definite advantages and disadvantages.


You have a built-in support system, especially if you’re homesick. Missing mom and dad? It’s okay! Your sibling can help you adjust to college life with the familiarity and comfort of home their presence brings.

A sibling can help you figure out what’s what on campus. Because I’d all ready been in college for two years, I Meghan and Kay Playhousewas able to show my sister some of the best places to eat and hang out and give her advice about dealing with different programs and advisers.

You’ll always have someone to go to campus events with. I have a lot of friends in the musical theatre program, and I love seeing the different productions on campus. Before my sister came to Kent, I’d find myself feeling awkward sitting by myself because none of my friends were really interested in that kind of thing. Now, I count on my sister to attend shows with me. If your sibling isn’t into the same things you are, you’ll probably still be able to guilt them into it.

You can meet new people and encounter new perspectives on campus. Before my sister came to college, I was really only concerned with the things I was learning in the public relations program. My sister is in the College of Education, Health and Human Services, so I’m able to learn a little bit about cutting-edge topics in her field on our drive home every day.


Transportation. My sister and I both commute from our parents’ house, and we only have one car. What does that mean? A lot of waiting around because our class schedules and work schedules don’t match. It’s tough, and there isn’t anything you can do about it; you just have to compromise.

Depending on how close you are with your sibling, you might fall into the trap of hanging out with him or her TOO much instead of making new friends. You have to make sure that you’re being your own person and making your own connections. Making new friends is one of the best parts of college, so live it up as an independent person!

Overall, the advantages really do outweigh the disadvantages. It’s great to have a sibling on campus!

Starting back to move forward: A journey from an older student

14 Aug

by Ernie Galgozy

It was 2008 and I remember being at an awards banquet inside the beautiful Bally’s Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada when the presenter said, “For best newsletter editing for a circulation under 1,500, the award goes to Ernie Galgozy and Local 1375 from Warren, Ohio.” I was so excited. Here I was in Las Vegas surrounded by my peers and being given a top award. It was surreal.

I was a union newsletter editor from 2000 – 2012 until the great recession wiped out and closed steelmaking capacity from the plants I represented.  Armed with only an associate degree in business administration (from Kent, Trumbull I might add) I did pretty well in communications.  What I discovered was how much I truly enjoyed that experience now that it was gone. I wasted no time in getting back to school to learn more about what I loved: communicating.

Once I met my Kent State academic advisor, I was surprised to learn how many concentrations are offered in communication studies.  Since I had a pretty decent grip on organizational communication, I went with a public track.  I chose public communications because I believed it would be better to add another tool in my belt of communication skills.  As one professor described it to me, public communication is sort of the umbrella that all other communication falls under.

My first essay assignments made me nervous because I had never written upper-course level essays before. Now my work would be graded by scholars.  I was especially frantic because I was in class with a professor who was notorious for demanding good work.  My goal became to have this professor actually enjoy reading my papers.  After some bumpy starts with APA style of writing, I finally got the remarks I was hoping for.

As a student, I was presented with many internship opportunities.  At first I didn’t like the idea of participating in an internship because I thought those opportunities should be for younger students to gain experience.  Then I began to look at it as an occasion to discover how other organizations prepare their communication.  I liked my internship so much that I am now finishing my third one.  I would encourage all students to seek opportunities offered through an internship and make the most of them—if for no other reason than to network your skills.  You never know who you will come in contact with.

So here it is a week before I will hear my name called again, but this time it will be to receive my Kent State University School of Communication Studies degree.  The road here was unexpected and filled with many talented people along the way.  Kent might not have the glitz of Las Vegas, but Lady Luck sure has been with me here on this journey.  Viva Kent State!

VCD Hosts Third Annual “Inspire Creative Camp”

6 Aug

Last week, the School of Visual Communication Design hosted its third annual “Inspire Summer Creative Camp.” This camp is a week-long program for high school students who are interested in design, photography, illustration and creative thinking. The studInspireents work closely with each other, as well as Kent State University VCD faculty and current students to learn about design principles and put them into practice through several projects.  The students learned about guerrilla advertising, photography, branding and communication, among other facets of design. The camp was held in the VCD spaces in the Art Building and MACC Annex, allowing the students to get a real feel of what classes in Kent State’s VCD program would be like.unnamed (2) This year’s camp brought in about 20 students from across the country. One student, Lindsey Reynolds, came from San Antonio, Texas.She heard about the camp through her mother, who is an alumna of Kent State University. Other students, such as Alex Griffin of Toledo, Ohio chose to come to the camp because they will be an incoming freshman in the VCD program this fall and wanted to get a jumpstart in design. The students left camp with new knowledge of graphic design and an enhanced portfolio for college admissions.

For more information about the camp and to see additional photos, go to or

inspire 2

Robert Hernandez Announced as Keynote Speaker at 2014 Poynter KSU Media Ethics Workshop

31 Jul

PoynterImgs_HernandezRobert Hernandez, aka WebJournalist, has made a name for himself as a journalist of the Web, not just on the Web. His primary focus is exploring and developing the intersection of technology and journalism – to empower people, inform reporting and storytelling, engage community, improve distribution and, whenever possible, enhance revenue.

He is an Assistant Professor of Professional Practice at USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, but he’s not an academic… he’s more of a “hackademic” and specializes in “MacGyvering” Web journalism solutions. He connects dots and people. (



The Workshop will be held in Franklin Hall on Septempber 18 and will address the topic of ethics and data mining. To learn more about the event, read about additional speakers or register to attend, go to


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