By Meghan Caprez
Eight College of Communication and Information students led the class of 2017 through their Destination Kent State (DKS) experience as Flashguides this summer. Making up nearly 40 percent of the Flashguides, CCI students worked with peers in other colleges to bring 25 groups of freshmen and their families through orientation.
Many of the CCI helpers said they wanted to become Flashguides as soon as they experienced their own DKS. Taylor Winter, a health communication major, said her orientation even helped her decide to major in communications.
“I started college as an exploratory student, and during my advising appointment at DKS, I was introduced to the idea of becoming a communications major,” Winter said. “I will never forget what my advisor said. ‘Well, you’re not too good at math, but you do know how to talk to people. Communications would suit you well.’ I had no idea that major was even possible. Leaving Destination Kent State, I knew what I was going to do with my future, which was a relief. Having such a meaningful experience, I knew I wanted to help others who were in a similar situation.”
Not all of the CCI Flashguides began their college career at Kent State, though. Alyssa Mazey, junior communications major, transferred from Slippery Rock University. Mazey decided to become a Flashguide because of an experience she encountered in her sorority, Alpha Xi Delta. Her twin, the sorority sister she shared her big with, wasn’t thrilled to be at Kent State.
“I transferred from a different school, so I never got a DKS experience,” Mazey said. “When I joined my sorority, my twin hated Kent at first. My big and I helped change her mind, and that’s why I wanted to become a Flashguide.”
After taking a leadership course, applying for the position, receiving the job and training to become a Flashguide, CCI students were able to put their communications education to work throughout DKS.
Brie Jutte, interpersonal communication junior and “squirrel princess” at DKS, said her communications coursework helped her not only speak effectively in front of large groups of people, but also one-on-one with students and parents.
“In my interpersonal communication class, we learned to pick up on nonverbal cues,” Jutte said. “I could see when the freshmen were a little lost or confused, so I could ask them if they needed help. We also learned about generational differences, which helped me talk to parents.”
Winter agreed with Jutte, echoing the practical experience DKS provided for her CCI coursework.
“Having my communication background gave me a huge advantage,” Winter said. “I was able to connect with people younger than me, parents and coworkers. This major is cut out for this job, and I am thankful I had such solid communication foundation. It made me a fearless leader.”
CCI Flashguides also helped students in the social media sphere by answering questions with the hashtag #omgdks on Twitter. Jutte said students used their own Twitter accounts to reach out to students who were too shy to ask questions in person.
Second-year Flashguide and senior communication studies major Kris Caccamise said a CCI education couldn’t have prepared him better for the DKS experience.
“You can apply everything you learn in CCI and use it in any job, especially as a student leader,” Caccamise said. “I think CCI had the best Flashguides.”
Caccamise received the DKS First Responder Award at the end of the program thanks to his effectiveness in diffusing tough situations and helping students and parents when they felt something was wrong.
After nearly two months of DKS, the Flashguides packed up and moved out of the freshmen dorms to finish the rest of summer 2013 off campus. Matt Fitzgerald, DKS Flashguide and freshman communication studies major, said he can’t wait to see the Class of 2017 on campus this fall.
“Being a Flashguide helps you grow personally and professionally,” Fitzgerald said. “I really recommend it. It’s really rewarding to know you helped someone open up and have fun.”