Category Archives: CCI Commons

CCI Commons Partners With Teleproductions to Create New Video

thumb_IMG_7433_1024.jpgThe CCI Commons is working with Teleproductions to produce a new video for their website. Recently, producer and junior DMP major S’Reane Parks hosted a focus group to gain insight from current residents and students. They gave insightful feedback on the existing video and helped brainstorm ideas for the new one. Students also expressed interest in appearing in the new video and helping during the production stages. Look for the completed video in April on the CCI Commons website:

Updates from CCI Commons

image001Adobe Skills

Two sophomore senseis from the School of Visual Communication Design will host an Adobe Skills Workshop at 8 p.m. today in the Design Studio in Olson Hall. Learn the ins and outs of Adobe before you learn them in class!

Rock Hall

CCI Commons residents will take a field trip to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland on Friday, Oct. 28 from 9:15 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. to see a special exhibit on rock & politics. Cost is $18 each. Those interested in going must register and pay for the trip ahead of time by contacting CCI Commons DirectorMarianne Warzinski or graduate assistant Jenelle Bayus. School of Journalism and Mass Communication Professor Mark Goodman will attend, as well, to discuss freedom of speech and music censorship.

Dissecting the Election

You know who’s running; you’ve seen the ads and the debates; but what does it all mean? Join us at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 2 in the Olson Hall Lounge for a discussion called, “Dissecting the Presidential Campaigns” with Danielle Coombs, Ph.D. Professor Coombs is the interim associate dean in the College of Communication and Information and is an expert in media messages and audience analysis. She’s also the author of The Last Man Standing: Media, Framing, and the 2012 Republican Primaries and is regularly featured by mainstream media, such as WKYC, NPR and Canadian Radio, for her knowledge of the presidential race.

image003CCI Study Abroad Lunch

Samantha Antoine, a CCI advisor serving the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, visited the CCI Commons on Oct. 5 during a Commons Lunch to talk with students about CCI Study Abroad opportunities. For more information, visit the CCI Study Abroad website:

Wasted Talent Mediaimage005

Wasted Talent Media was born from the creative talents of owners Todd Volkmer and Erin Ludlam, who met with CCI Commons students late last month to talk about their film and video production company. They shared with students the importance of humility and hard work when entering the workforce and stressed the need for storylines that capture the audience’s attention and create an emotional appeal. After the presentation, students were able to meet with them one-on-one to talk about the industry, the importance of understanding business and the ability to relate to their clients.

Faculty Members Discuss Student Involvement at CCI Commons

12764443_1692241764377783_2745208062866681828_oThe CCI Commons welcomed six faculty members from the College of Communication and Information to Olson Hall Wednesday, March 2, for a lunch and discussion about what’s coming up in the college and how students can get involved.

Faculty members – Paul Haridakis (COMM), John Butte (JMC), Candace Bowen (JMC), Dave Foster (JMC), Jeff Fruit (SLIS) and Jaime Kennedy (VCD) – represented each of the college’s four schools and spoke to students about how they can get involved.

Haridakis highlighted a special topics course titled “Communication and Terrorism,” which discusses terrorism in the context of media coverage and communication theory. The class will be offered at the undergraduate level in Fall 2016.

But for those looking to get involved sooner rather than later, Kennedy mentioned VCD lectures are offered throughout the semester as an opportunity for students to hear from professionals in the field. These lectures are open to students in any discipline.

Additionally, students may also find a place for themselves as a volunteer for the Ohio Scholastic Media Association convention in early April. Bowen is seeking helpful, enthusiastic students to assist. More information on OSMA can be found here:

CCI Commons hosts faculty multiple times throughout the semester to give underclassmen an opportunity to connect with faculty outside the classroom, generating confidence in seeking help from professors when necessary and developing an ongoing professional network.

For more information on the events the CCI Commons hosts, visit or follow via Facebook.

Digital media production in the air, on the ground

IMG_5730The CCI Commons welcomed Joe Murray, Journalism and Mass Communication associate professor, to talk with students about how they can use the skills they learn in the College of Communication and Information as a ticket to get around the world.

Murray shared his most recent venture, which took him around the state in a vintage airplane – stopping in every one of Ohio’s 88 counties for a peculiar record and plenty of content for his new book “Lost in Oscar Hotel.” The book showcases photos shot by CCI students who met Murray along the way.

During his talk, he encouraged students to get involved in professor’s work whenever they can and to not be afraid to use their student status their advantage.

“Being a student, you are surrounded by resources,” Murray said. “Faculty members are experts in their particular field, and you should ask them questions whenever you possibly can. It’s something I wish I would’ve done when I was a student.”

He went on to talk about trips to the Middle East, Cuba and Antarctica, where he worked as a photographer, videographer, producer and director and produced work that aired on PBS and won him Emmy awards from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences-Cleveland.IMG_5738

“You’re learning the skills now that got me across the world,” Murray said. “Use those. Be curious, genuine and authentic, and by all means, get yourself a passport.”

For more information about CCI Commons-sponsored events like this, visit or follow the community on Facebook at

CCI Commons Celebrates Sophomore Appreciation Week

IMG_5679In celebration of Kent State University’s Sophomore Appreciation week, the CCI Commons invited College of Communication and Information sophomore students to lunch with Dean Amy Reynolds, Assistant Dean Matt Rollyson and USG Student Senator Reggie Jones. The lunch offered an opportunity to talk, between bites of pizza, about the demands of being a second year student and how to maintain focus moving into the final two years of their undergraduate education.

Sophomores not only discussed concerns ranging from affording tuition payments to balancing an increased workload with Reynolds, Rollyson and Jones but also expressed appreciation for CCI faculty who they regarded as very responsive and helpful both in and out of class.

Reynolds mentioned she was very pleased to hear CCI faculty are listening and engaging with their students, and Jones offered students advice on how to earn a few extra bucks on campus.

Moving forward, Reynolds, Rollyson and Jones said they hope to continue discussion as a IMG_5672means to find new and alternative ways to find solutions to students’ challenges such as potentially creating a centralized hub for on-campus jobs and leadership roles within the college and the field.

For more information about the CCI Commons, visit and like it on Facebook for the latest events and photos.

Visual Communication Design, Advertising Students Try Out for American Idol

By Nicole Gennarelli
nancy_wilsonSinging in front of Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick, Jr., and Keith Urban started as a dream and quickly became a reality for sophomore Visual Communication Design (VCD) student Nancy Wilson when she tried out for American Idol last summer.

Wilson auditioned in Detroit, Mich., last summer where she made it through the intimidating first screening round and received two call backs, one during fall semester and one over winter break.

“The process is very lengthy and based on luck most of the time,” she said. “The first screening rounds are the hardest, because they cut almost everyone; out of the thousands of people who auditioned in Detroit, around 40 made it through to the celebrity judge rounds. There are three audition rounds that people go through before the celebrity auditions and some spend years trying to get there. This was my third year auditioning.”

Wilson has been singing since she was two years old, so being nervous while singing is not usual for her.

“Singing in front of the judges was so nerve wracking,” said Wilson. “And that’s crazy coming from me because I usually don’t get nervous.”

Once Wilson sang in front of the celebrity judges, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick, Jr. agreed to pass her through to the Hollywood auditions, but Keith Urban disagreed. Wilson then flew to Los Angeles to sing again for the celebrity judges. Unfortunately during this round, she got sent home, but is thankful for the experience she had.

“This experience has been phenomenal for me,” she said. “The actual competition was a bit frustrating and a lot of waiting, but it’s nice to be surrounded by people who love the same thing you do.”

Wilson says that everyone who has a passion for music and singing should try out because you have nothing to lose.

“Don’t take what happens in the auditions to heart; it’s very hard to get through on these shows,” she said. “But go and meet people with your same dream; go make connections and friends and jam out with people who love what you do. If nothing else, it’s a day well spent with music.”

Andy_LovrakAlthough he didn’t get to sing in front of the American Idol celebrity judges, Andy Lovrak’s audition process is one he will also cherish forever.

Lovrak, a junior advertising major, decided to try out for American Idol when auditions came to Detroit, Mich., this past summer. Singing has always been a passion of his, so he jumped at the opportunity of making his dreams come true.

“I have always wanted to try out. I have been watching the show since I was 10 years old, and every kid dreams of being some sort of celebrity,” he said. “I always knew that I was eventually going to try out, but I didn’t want anyone to know. This year ended up being perfect because it was a close location, and I could just sneak away for a few days, so I went for it.”

Lovrak left Kent at 4 a.m. on a Saturday morning, arrived in Detroit around 8 a.m. and waited in line to audition for six hours. Once Lovrak and his friend made it through the line, they went through a quick registration process and were told to be back at 5 a.m. the next day.

“We then woke up the next morning and drove out to the stadium,” he said. “The exit to get to the stadium was so backed up it was crazy. We finally got in line and just waited. There were cameras everywhere, but I kind of hid from them, because if I didn’t make it I didn’t want anyone to know I tried out. Waiting in line had to be one of the most miserable things I have ever done. There were a lot of parents there who were living through their kids mixed with people who were willing to do anything to get noticed. A 15-year-old girl sneezed on me seven times, and I almost got out of line right there.”

After waiting in line for what seemed like forever, Ryan Seacrest came out and gave the audience a pep talk, Lovrak said.

“They had ten tables set up on the football field with two producers at each,” he said. “You went up in lines of 4, sang, and then most everyone got cut. The ones who made it through got to cross the field, wave their golden ticket in the air, and then went into a tunnel. Everyone else just walked up the stairs.”

Around 4 p.m., Lovrak finally got his chance to audition. Lovrak and his friend wound up at different audition tables and he was the first in his line to sing.

“Most people got cut off around 15 seconds and that was all they got. I started singing and realized that I was singing way longer than expected,” Lovrak said. “When I finished I was asked to sing a second song. I did and then got back in line. The three other girls in my line went and then they called us all up. The producer started with, “Thanks for coming out, you all did great.” I just kind of figured that this was their nice way of cutting us. He then said, “Girls I am sorry but it is a no for now, but Andy if you could stay back.” I don’t think I have ever had my heart beat so fast. He looked at me and said, “You didn’t think you were going to make it, did you?” I said no and he told me to have some confidence in myself. So I got the golden ticket and went across the field. It was the craziest moment of my life, walking across a football field, holding up a golden ticket as thousands of people cheered for me. There were 8000 of us that tried out and about 200 made it.”

After receiving his golden ticket at the Detroit auditions, Lovrak’s call back audition was September 13 in a Detroit hotel. The producers made everyone sing “Sign, Sealed, Delivered” many times as a group and then gave them a pep talk.

“The head producer walked in and said, “We are judging you on your voice, your looks and your personality. If you don’t like it go try out for The Voice,”” he said. “I will never forget it.”

After another four hours of waiting, it was finally Lovrak’s turn to audition in front of the producers.

“I went into a room with the producers and started singing. About 10 seconds in the girl and guy in the middle started arguing because the guy wanted to put me through and the girl did not,” Lovrak said. “They were arguing very loud which made it really hard to concentrate. The girl then waved her hand in the air and said ‘It’s a no for now. You just aren’t there yet.’ That was the end for me.”

Although Lovrak didn’t make it to Hollywood, there isn’t a thing he would change about his audition experience.

“I never in a million years thought I would make it through, and I did,” he said. “The thing I kept telling myself was that if I never tried then I would never know. At least if I tried I couldn’t regret it later. Getting that first golden ticket was the best moment of my life, but it took a lot out of me. I wouldn’t change a thing about it though.”

CCI Commons Launches New Website

By Nicole Gennarelli

CCI Commons, the College of Communication and Information’s (CCI) living-learning community, has a new website viewable at Launched in December, the website redesign aims to reflect the feel of the CCI Commons and represent its welcome, friendly community atmosphere.

The new website is built in the university’s official content management system, joining the new websites from CCI’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication (JMC) and School of Communication Studies (COMM). Designers and developers from IdeaBase (formerly known as The Tannery) and University Communications and Marketing (UCM) worked with CCI Commons Director Marianne Warzinski to improve the website. The new website is now also accessible on smartphones and tablets.

“We’re building for the future, as we know prospective and current students are spending a lot of time on smartphones,” said Chris Hallahan, UCM interactive designer and developer.

Students from JMC’s audience analysis class taught by JMC Assistant Professor Danielle Coombs, Ph.D., conducted research focused on what students would ultimately want from a redesigned CCI Commons website. The class conducted online surveys and personal interviews with current CCI Commons’ members and found that current community members are the experts and their stories should be reflected on the new website.

Shelby Muter, graphic designer at IdeaBase, was the main designer for the new CCI Commons website. She worked alongside IdeaBase Creative Director Ian McCullough, IdeaBase Business Manager Kristin Dowling and Hallahan redesigning the site to better reflect the personality of the CCI Commons.

“The main goal for the redesign was to reflect the energetic, collaborative environment that CCI Commons creates for Kent State University students,” Muter said. “Students in this living and learning community are hardworking students, but they also like to have fun. The new site emphasizes these qualities through the energetic photography, colorful typography and dynamic layouts. Current students, faculty and staff are showcased on the redesigned site as well. The authentic imagery and casual language featured on the new site accurately reflects the personality of this fantastic living and learning community.”

“As an outsider looking in, the new website gives CCI Commons a more distinctive branding and simplifies the user experience,” Hallahan said . “Everything is organized better and the content is more vibrant.  Of course, we’re also excited about the website’s responsive design which allows the website to work on multiple screen sizes and devices.”

The website has icons that allow for easy navigation and show prospective students how to register for the CCI Commons and other programs within the community.

“This new website gives incoming students a better idea of what our community is about,” Warzinski said. “The site’s front page has a video of current CCI Commons’ students talking about why they joined. Each page gives prospective students a good feel of what CCI Commons is about – a place they can come and do everything they want as a college student. All students join CCI Commons for different reasons, but this is a place where they can come together and share their interest for communication and embrace common bonds.”