Category Archives: School of Communication Studies

Golf, Media and a Doctorate Degree: Q&A with a Ph.D. Student


Meet Zach Humphries, a 26-year-old mass communication in media doctoral student. In our Q&A, he talks about what it’s like to balance research and a graduate assistantship and still have a little free time to do what he loves.

Q: What is your educational background?
A: I went to Youngstown State University for my undergrad in communication and media studies and my master’s in interdisciplinary communication.

Q: Why did you decide to pursue a doctoral degree?
A: I have a couple of different passions. One is sports broadcasting and another is teaching. In order to teach at a college level, you need a Ph.D., so teaching brought me here first, and now I am beginning to value research as well.

Q: What is it like balancing a graduate assistantship with coursework (and having a few minutes to breathe)?
A: At first, it was hard to balance, because when you begin the program, you worry about your classes a lot. It gets better. The first year is difficult, but I was a graduate assistant for my master’s, and that helped.

Q: Are you involved in anything else on campus?
A: I’m the president of the Communication Graduate Student Association (CGSA). We try to bring everyone together. We’re very diverse, and we try to bring all types of people together.

Q: What are you researching this semester?
A: I’m traveling to London over spring break to look at sports communication media, which has been a theme for this semester. We’re looking at how fans interact with athletes. I also have been looking at a lot of political media; one of my projects currently is researching how cable news networks are framing illegal immigration.

Q: When you find free time, what sorts of things do you like to do?
A: I love to golf; I’m a huge golfer. Anything outdoors, I enjoy. I also really like watching sports. I’m a huge Cleveland Cavaliers fan.

Q: Do you have a dream job?
A: I would love to teach back at Youngstown State University. I want to give back to people who helped pave the way for me. I’m passionate about Youngstown, and unfortunately, it gets a bad reputation.

by Charleah Trombitas

Comm Student Hits Home Run with Summer Internship

by Erica Batyko

Kyle VertochStudents in the College of Communication and Information know how to make an impact at their internships by working hard and thinking outside the box. Kyle Vertoch, a senior applied communication major in the School of Communication Studies, did just that while interning for the Akron Racers where he quickly became known as the “everywhere intern.”

Vertoch earned the nickname because he went everywhere and did everything: press releases, social media, video editing and producing, on-camera interviewing and in-game hosting. He even encouraged his boss to start using Periscope to engage fans.

“She was thrilled with the idea of broadcasting the games to gain more publicity,” Vertoch said. “It really showed how open the organization was to new ideas, even from its interns.”

One of his favorite parts of his internship was getting the opportunity to interview Bernie Kosar. Kosar is a legend in Cleveland Browns history and the favorite player of Vertoch’s dad. At the time Vertoch found out he would be meeting Kosar, his father was in the hospital.

“When I found out I was going to interview him, I immediately called my dad and started to cry,” Vertoch said. “It just meant the world to me.”

To Vertoch, the internship was more than just work. It was the opportunity to build relationships with the organization, his coworkers and the players.

“I wasn’t just an intern; I was part of the Racer’s family,” he said.

His advice to students who plan to do an internship is to not be afraid of anything that is presented to you.

“The moment I was offered the job to do the in-game announcing for one of the games, I was more scared than someone watching a scary movie,” Vertoch said. “I was thinking of anything, anyway, I could get out of the situation. But I mustered up the courage to announce the game and have some fun. And it turned out really well.”

Vertoch found out about the internship with the Akron Racers at the Career Fair hosted by Kent State’s Career Services.

10 Signs You’re A Kent State Communication Studies Major

by Amanda Azzarelli

1. All of your friends ask you to help them proofread papers and prepare for speeches.

Kermit Typing

As if you don’t have three speeches and six papers of your own due this week.

2. You’ve been assigned to “change the world” on more than one occasion.

Robin Williams Encouragement

But no pressure!

3. The weather is always a surprise when you leave class because of Taylor Hall’s lack of windows.

Mean Girls Raining

When did it rain?

4. You find yourself thinking about communication theories in the middle of everyday interactions.

ZEfron Serious Laugh

Admit it, social exchange theory made you analyze the cost and reward of every relationship you’ve ever had.

5. You thought you were good at grammar until you enrolled in Communication Grammar Review.

Series of an Unfortunate Events Grammar

Now you’re considering going back to second grade.

6. Although you’ve been taught how to write in APA style in every class, every semester, you somehow still don’t understand it.

Confused Ryan Gosling

How do you get a different header on the first page again?

7. You never have to worry about dinner on Wednesday nights.

That's So Raven Pizza

Shout out to Kent Communication Society for the free pizza!

8. After you tell people what your major is, you have to explain what it means.

Tina Fey Eye Roll

“But what can you do with a communication degree?”

9. You still really don’t know the answer to that question.

Good Luck Charlie Shrug

And you are dreading the day they ask you about it in a job interview.

10. Nonetheless, you love your classes, and you can’t wait to apply what you are learning to your future career.

Matt Bomer OK

If you ever do figure out what you can do with your degree

Gifs courtesy of

Communication Studies Student Named Finalist For Ryan Seacrest Cover Contest

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.”

COMM Student Shares Her WhyCCIKent Story

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!

CCI Offers Wide Array of Summer Courses

Summer sessions at Kent State give students the opportunity to get some classes out of the way and to catch up, get ahead or stay on track to graduate.  While some students might cringe at the thought of taking summer classes, others take advantage of the chance to complete a few courses in six or eight weeks as opposed to the fifteen-week semester during the school year.

This summer, the College of Communication and Information is offering over 30 courses that span across all four schools: Communication Studies, Journalism & Mass Communication, Library & Information Science and Visual Communication Design. Courses are offered both in-person and online, giving students the option to choose the best learning environment for their needs. CCI is offering courses at all levels, from 10000-level introductory classes to 40000-level senior seminars. Don’t think these courses are all work and no play; JMC is offering summer film courses about Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler, and zombie movies.

There are three summer sessions with courses offered during each session. Summer I runs June 9 – July 12, lasting six weeks; Summer II runs June 9 – August 2, lasting eight weeks; and Summer III runs July 14 – August 16, lasting six weeks. The last day to add courses for Summer I is tomorrow, Thursday, June 12, so be sure to sign up now if you are interested in taking a CCI course this summer!


Students taking notes in Professor Jan Leach’s Ethics and Issues in Mass Communication summer class

Books Explore Portrayals of Heroines Across Comics, Films, Literature, Television

By Mary Rogers, COMM student

With media coverage and popular culture interest in women at an all-time high, two Kent State University graduate students decided to explore the new roles women take on in television and in the movies.

Norma Jones and Maja Bajac-Carter, doctoral students in the College of Communication and Information (CCI) at Kent State University, have co-edited a two-volume book set regarding heroines in popular culture.

Heroines of Film and Television: Portrayals in Popular Culture, and Heroines of Comic Books and Literature: Portrayals in Popular Culture, bothpublished by Rowman & Littlefield, features a wide selection of essays from noted authors who explore the shifting roles of heroic women. The contributors wrote about popular culture heroines such as Wonder Woman, Bella Swan, Sorsha from Willow, Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Bride from Kill Bill, Buffy (the Vampire Slayer), Joan Harris in Mad Men, and Captain Janeway from Star Trek.

“Heroines may be portrayed like male heroes and extremely tough. These heroines include Xena, She Hulk, and Sorsha. At the same time, we also have heroic women that are different. For example, consider Bella from Twilight and Nancy Botwin from Weeds. We hoped to venture beyond the dichotomy of the damsels in distress and/or extremely strong warrior women to explore new ways of understanding, perceiving and thinking about women in a broader sense,” Jones said.

Jones added, “In other words, we are not just weak or strong, but as women, we exist across the board.”

After sending out the initial call, and receiving almost 80 proposals from award-winning authors across a variety of disciplines, Jones and Bajac-Carter realized that this topic sparked an interest that was far beyond expected. “The amazing thing about having two volumes with multi-disciplinary contributors is that we have a wide spectrum of ideas to consider, think about, debate and continue the research,” Bajac-Carter said, “The books facilitate discussion for both academic and broader audiences.”

Backgrounds represented by the contributing authors include English, history, women’s studies, gender communication studies, popular culture studies, comic book writers and many others.

“We hope to extend the conversation in communication and CCI through collaboration. We hope the books help to explore what it means to be female, what it means to be a heroine, as well as connecting different folks and getting them to talk,” Jones said.

The collaborative freedom fostered in the CCI doctoral program helped make this project possible, according to Jones. In fact, this theme of heroic women is also popular among the communication studies community at Kent.

Contributors from the School of Communication Studies include COMM Assistant Professor Suzy D’Enbeau, Ph.D., as well as Rekha Sharma and Carol Savery, doctoral candidates and instructors.

D’ Enbeau’s chapter is titled “The Erotic Heroine and the Politics of Gender at Work: A Feminist Reading of Mad Men’s Joan Harris.” This section critically examines Mad Men’s Joan Harris as an “unlikely heroine,” who manages the strain between workplace power and sexuality.

Sharma and Savory explored the cinematic portrayals of marriage in their chapter titled “Bollywood Marriages: Portrayals of Matrimony in Hindi Popular Cinema.”

Information on the companion volumes, Heroines of Comic Books and Literature: Portrayals in Popular Culture and Heroines of Comic Books and Literature: Portrayals in Popular Culture may be found on