Category Archives: Student Organizations

Quiz: Which CCI Student Organization Should You Join?

by Elline Concepcion and Anna Hoffman

The College of Communication and Information offers a ton of different student organizations for you to get involved in, regardless of your major. Having trouble picking which CCI student organization you should join? Take the quiz!

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Public Relations Students Earn Honorable Mention in National Competition

Kent State University’s Bateman Gold Team received honorable mention ranking in the national Bateman Case Study Competition.

TheBateman Gold Team was one of 11 teams – out of 51 teams that entered the competition – that was recognized with the honorable mention ranking by the Public Relations Student Society of America. Three other teams were named national finalists in judging results announced Monday.

Five public relations majors in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication made up Bateman Gold Team:

Meghan Caprez, a senior from Akron
Marcus Donaldson, a junior from Cincinnati
Hannah Hamner, a senior from Kenmore, N.Y.
Julie Myers, a senior from Gray, Pa.
Abby Prulhiere, a senior from Tallmadge

Each year, the Bateman competition calls for PRSSA college chapter teams to research, develop, implement and evaluate a public relations campaign between January and March. This year’s teams were charged with increasing awareness and usage of Popmoney, a personal payment service.

Tim Roberts, a JMC lecturer and Bateman faculty advisor, noted the team overcame numerous obstacles, including the inclement, sub-zero weather in February that caused rescheduling of planned events.

“The Gold Team conducted extensive research, including focus groups, detailed secondary research on Popmoney and its competitors, and more than 1,000 pre- and post-campaign intercept interviews,” Roberts said. “That made their campaign stand out and, obviously, impressed the judges.”

JMC alumna Jenn Yokley, a former Bateman team member who now serves as corporate communications manager for the Cleveland Cavaliers, was Gold’s professional advisor.

This marks the second consecutive year a Kent State team received national recognition in Bateman. Last year, KSU’s Bateman Blue Team placed second in the country.

Student-produced Horror Film Premieres at Kent State

By Meghan Caprez

HHKent State University Independent Films (KSUIF) will roll out the red carpet on campus to release its third full-length feature film called Hell at Heathridge Thursday, Dec. 5.

The film follows a group of Heathridge University theater students who are cast in a reenactment of a murder-suicide that occurred on campus 20 years ago. As they continue to prepare for the show, ignoring the constant warnings from the only survivor of the attack, they are met with an evil none of the students are prepared to face.

Kent State seniors Tyler Pina and Caroline Abbey directed the film, aided by a group of both student and professional producers. Together, Pina and Abbey led more than 100 student volunteers throughout the pre-production, production and post-production stages of Hell at Heathridge.

“We have been working diligently on this project since last December,” Pina said. “I am extremely proud of my cast and crew. They are all incredibly talented and hardworking individuals that I know will continue to go far in the field of film-making. I think people will be surprised at the quality. I hope they feel like they are watching a film that a major production company put together. I know I’m excited to watch all of our hard work come together and see our completed film on the big screen.”

Traci Williams, associate lecturer in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and JMC Associate Professor David Smeltzer created KSUIF in 2008 for electronic media production students who expressed an interest in all three stages of film-making. Since its creation, KSUIF released its film Breaking News in 2010 and Research: The Musical in 2011.

Some students involved in Hell at Heathridge received class credit for their work as part of a 12-credit-hour series of courses created by the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Department of Pan-African Studies. The series of classes was offered throughout a three semester time period – 3 credits in the fall, 3 credits in the spring and 6 credits in the summer – and students were encouraged to register for any and all of the classes that fit in their schedule.

“I think with the new digital media production program at Kent State, the incredible class where students get to make an actual feature-length film and the tremendous growth of production taking place in Cleveland, it’s not going to be much longer until people start saying, ‘Go to Kent State for film-making,’” Pina said. “We’re already making a huge name for ourselves, as there really aren’t more than two or three schools that allow students to get this much hands-on experience in creating a full-length movie.”

The free red carpet premiere of Hell at Heathridge will take place Thursday, Dec. 5, in the Kent Student Center Ballroom. The premiere, opening at 6:30 p.m., will feature a cash bar and appetizers before the film and a panel discussion with the directors, producers and actors after the film. KSUIF will offer an encore showing of the film at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, in the Kent Student Center Kiva. Tickets for the encore showing cost $5 and can be purchased at the door.

Check out the movie trailer now!

Autism Speaks — It’s Time to Listen

By Alyssa Mazey

The Beta Tau chapter of Alpha Xi Delta at Kent State University donated $36,333.24 to Autism Speaks from money raised at its annual Xi Man competition on Oct. 11, which incorporated facts about Alpha Xi Delta and autism into a five-minute skit and dance performance.
Autism Speaks is the world’s leading organization in autism research, and Alpha Xi Delta chapters across the nation have raised more than $1 million for Autism Speaks.

Two students from of College of Communication and Information worked closely with this philanthropic event – Alyssa Mazey and Justina Kennefick. Currently taking “Communication and Influence” in the School of Communication Studies, the pair was given a semester-long assignment to create a campaign that would influence people’s attitudes and behaviors. Since they were already involved with Autism Speaks, and it was their sorority’s national philanthropy, they decided this would be a perfect project.

Both Kennefick and Mazey are public communication majors and hold positions in the Beta Tau chapter of Alpha Xi Delta. Kennefick is the social media chair, while Mazey serves as the fundraising chair. They used the knowledge and resources of the chapter, previous classes they had taken and assistance from COMM Assistant Professor J.D. Ponder, Ph.D.

Kennefick controlled the Alpha Xi Delta Twitter page, posting information about the different events. Mazey planned and scheduled events which allowed people to fundraise.

“Raising money and awareness for such an amazing cause was easy when you’re doing something fun,” Mazey said. “We did multiple things each week leading up to Xi Man on Oct. 11.”
Individually, Kennefick raised more than $950 during summer break. She also coached a fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, with its dance routine and skit. Kennefick and the rest of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon coaches expressed their connection and emotional stories to Autism Speaks, which resulted in the men of the chapter raising more than $550.

Kennefick also sent a press release to Anne Dudley, the marketing coordinator for both the Schools of Communication Studies and Visual Communication Design, explaining the philanthropic event, the connection to Autism Speaks and the chapter’s goal of raising $30,000. Dudley posted an article on the School of Communication Studies’ website encouraging people to donate to the cause. Due to Kennefick’s motivation and dedication to Autism Speaks throughout the summer and the fall semester, her individual fundraising total was acknowledged when she helped the Xi Man team present the total amount raised on stage at the end of the event. Three other members also were asked to present the total because of their hard work, motivation and large monetary contribution.

“Most of my contributions to the event were backstage,” Mazey said. “I was in charge of setting up fundraising events, answering questions about fundraising and motivating the chapter to raise as much money as possible. My favorite fundraising opportunities were those that allowed the whole Greek and Kent State University community to come together.”

Mazey continued, “Without the support of the entire Kent State community, the Greek community and the sisters of Alpha Xi Delta, the $36,333.24 we raised and the amazing campaign that Kennefick and I organized would not have been possible. Everyone has a connection to autism spectrum disorders in some way, and it is an amazing feeling to know that so many people care.”


By Brandon Koziol
KSU Independent Films
Kent State University Independent Films has the cameras ready to roll again to create its third feature film, “Hell at Heathridge.”

Written by former student Bryan Kelly, the terror-filled tale weaves the story of five young actors who reenact a grisly murder-suicide that occurred at Heathridge University 20 years ago. However, they come to realize it’s not just a simple reenactment. The students soon learn one thing – evil is real.

At this time, more than 50 aspiring filmmakers are tackling the groundwork for this movie in Associate Lecturer Traci E. Williams’ three-hour preproduction class. From working on teasers to casting talent, this is a real film production.

“I’m always trying to top the previous project,” Williams said. “And ‘Hell at Heathridge’ will do just that.”

For this project, Williams is teaming up with JMC Associate Professor David Smeltzer to give students a taste of the real-world film industry. With Williams’ experience working with Hollywood icons such as George Clooney and Denzel Washington, and Smeltzer’s experience creating the award-winning documentary “Lucy in Disguise,” they create a knowledge-packed team. Also bringing her 16 years of expertise in the TV and film industry, working on shows like “Charmed,” is senior Estee Hodge.

“Nobody else is doing this,” Hodge said. “Not even world renowned film schools.”

To prepare for the summer shoot, student directors Tyler Pina and Caroline Abbey are leading the preproduction phase. Pina and Abbey are working together with a large student crew to schedule, budget and cast the film to get ready for the shoot starting June 10 and ending August 3.

KSU Independent Films will then premiere the film in front of hundreds at a red-carpet event in 2013. Soon after, “Hell at Heathridge” will hit the international and national film festivals. The producers are also looking to secure a distribution deal for the movie.

“We’re totally revolutionizing the electronic media production program,” Pina said. “This is the biggest project of our lives.”

Williams is hoping to use the success of “Hell at Heathridge” as a platform to launch a film program at Kent State.

“My vision, my dream, is to one day have a full, functional sound stage here at Kent State,” she said.

Even without an official program, Williams and her students have all ready created two other feature films: “Breaking News,” a national award winner, and “Research: The Musical,” a musical comedy with original songs written and scored by students.

Williams and Smeltzer continue making films out of their dedication to give a whole range of students real-life working experience – even those students outside the electronic media production major.

“It doesn’t matter what your major is. I will find a use for you,” Williams said. “From accountants to fashion designers, anyone can join and help out.”

Everyone involved in this film project is truly dedicated, she said. Not only are they using this experience to help launch their careers, but they are making a name for Kent State University and filmmaking in Ohio as well.

For more information about the film or how you can donate, visit KSU Independent Films’ Kickstarter page at or visit its website at


After much campaigning, junior communication studies students Natalie Moses and Amish Patel have officially earned their positions in the Undergraduate Student Government (USG). Both students attribute their successful campaigns to their experiences in communication studies and their involvement on campus.

Natalie Moses, CCI senator for Undergraduate Student GovernmentMoses is the new senator of the College of Communication and Information (CCI). She is majoring in applied communication with a double minor in media literacy and public relations. As senator of CCI, Moses’ job is to represent the voice of all CCI students. One of her many responsibilities is to keep scholarships objective and make sure all undergraduate students have equal opportunities through the student government. Moses felt that she is a good fit for this position because she is an effective communicator and can relate to any CCI student. “I have a good understanding of the overall interests of CCI,” said Moses.

Amish Patel, executive director of Undergraduate Student GovernmentPatel is now the executive director of USG. His position involves being the spokesperson for the students, acting as liaison between the university administration, Board of Trustees and the USG, creating programs and initiatives to enrich the lives of Kent State University students, and much more. Within in the past two years, he has held positions such as director of student involvement and director of communications.  Patel’s passion for Kent State is what drives his involvement with student government. “I want to give back to a school that has given me so much,” said Patel, “When I saw the opportunity to make things come full circle and further improve the university, I knew it was my time.”

Both Moses and Patel agree that their experiences within CCI have contributed to their campaign success. Moses felt that skills she learned in advertising, visual design and public relations helped her while putting together her campaign. “The High Impact Professional Speaking class really helped me to be a confident speaker,” she added. Moses also noted her experience studying abroad in London as significant to her campaigning. “Working closely with Michelle Ewing and Dr. Danielle Coombs gave me advertising and public relations insight that taught me how to campaign,” Moses said. Moses is also very involved in student media, which she said keeps her up to date on what is happening on campus.

Patel said that holding multiple positions for Phi Delta Theta fraternity is what started his involvement on Kent’s campus. “My involvement in my fraternity has given me countless real-world experience and it has provided an amazing platform to network with,” said Patel. He was further introduced to the Greek Community and various aspects of the university as a result. Patel has been involved with different organizations such as Focus on the Future, Black United Students, Distinguished Undergraduates and more. Patel said that the remarkable insight he gained about student life is what ultimately made him want to share his experience with the rest of Kent State.  “As a communication studies student, I knew I wanted to change how USG reached students and presented information,” said Patel.

Both Moses and Patel want Kent State students to be more aware of what is happening on their campus and encourage them to get more involved with student government. “As much as this can be a boring thing for students to hear about, current legislation really affects students and their ability to be successful students and future professionals,” said Patel. Moses suggested that students attend the public USG meetings every other Wednesday, at 5 p.m., in the Governance Chambers, to see what is currently happening and pitch their ideas. Moses wants students to know that USG “is not an unapproachable thing.”

Moses and Patel both stressed the significance of USG’s Student Allocations Funding opportunities as something for students to take advantage of. Students and organizations are able to request funds to go on conferences that pertain to their major. “This is an amazing way for students to get real world experience and network with professionals across the country,” said Patel.

Patel encourages students to “follow a passion and get involved on campus! Plain and simple.” Applications and more information can be found in the USG office and online at

Shel Holtz to Keynote Sixth Annual YouToo Social Media Conference Focusing on Social Visualization, 

Want a FREE seat? Tweet or retweet anything about the conference using #YouToo2013 until Friday, April 12, and you could win. Read contest details.

Communication expert Shel Holtz will discuss social visualization strategies and tactics as the keynote speaker at the Akron Area Public Relations Society of America’s YouToo Social Media Conference on Friday, April 19, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Kent State University’s Franklin Hall.

“The rise of social visual communication, with platforms like Pinterest and Instagram, require communicators to think about how images can convey messages, tell stories and engage audiences when they stand alone,” Holtz said. “Gamification also presents communicators with new ways to engage audiences, adding game elements to more mundane activities. The question for both is, how do communicators apply them so they won’t just be another shiny object in the communications toolkit but rather help move the needle?”

Five-time winner of IABC’s Gold Quill award, Holtz has nearly 35 years of experience in organizational communications in corporate and consulting environments. His experience includes corporate public relations, crisis communications, media relations and more. Holtz also has expertise in strategic communications planning, communications research and the integration of technology into communications strategies. He speaks frequently on different topics, such as strategic organizational communication and the application of online technology. Holtz just celebrated his eighth year of podcasting with For Immediate Release: The Hobson and Holtz Report.

Kevin Dugan will serve as the opening speaker at the social media conference. Dugan is the director of marketing at Empower Media Marketing and founder of the Bad Pitch Blog. He has won six national awards for his work in public relations. Dugan is an expert in social media, marketing communication, public relations and media relations.

The conference, co-hosted by Akron Area PRSA and the Kent State Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), also will have breakout sessions in the morning and afternoon as well as panel discussions by experts discussing social visualization more in-depth. Other speakers include:

  • Luke Armour, assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and coordinator of Flash Communications, Kent State University
  • Carolyn Fertig, digital producer, Marcus Thomas, LLC
  • King Hill, senior vice president, Marcus Thomas, LLC
  • Allison Peltz, Social marketing strategist, Rosetta
  • David LaBelle, director of photojournalism in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Kent State University
  • Scott Linabarger, senior director, multichannel content marketing, Cleveland Clinic
  • Katelyn Luysterborg, social marketing specialist, Rosetta
  • Amy Martin, vice president of marketing and communications, The Centers for Families and Children
  • Heidi Modarelli-Frank, vice president/public relations, Marcus Thomas, LLC
  • Phong Nguyen, art director, Marcus Thomas, LLC
  • Kelly Piero, corporate communications, Diebold Incorporated
  • Jenn Yokley , manager of corporate communications, Quicken Loans Arena

Students can attend the conference for just $40.

“As a student who has attended past conferences, I can say from experience the YouToo Social Media Conference is a great way to network with professionals and learn more about the industry,” said Taylor Titus, a senior public relations student who is the student co-chair of the event. “I also gained a lot of tangible knowledge I can use now in my school work and future career. The conference is a great experience for upcoming young public relations professionals, and I highly encourage you to attend.”


Students will benefit additionally from this year’s student-only development track at the conference. A student-only morning breakout session provides a unique Q&A with Holtz as he talks about how he got into the industry and relates his experience to the students. An afternoon wrap-up session hosted by the Akron Area PRSA Young Pro’s group for students will help put the day in perspective by helping students apply what they have learned during the conference to their school work and internships.  View the entire schedule here.


Benefits for attending the conference include:

  • Learning about the latest trends in social visualization.
  • Networking with professionals from around the Northeast Ohio area.
  • Gaining hands-on experience for students from the student-only development sessions.

To register for the YouToo Social Media Conference, visit Registration closes at noon on Thursday, April 18. Also, find YouToo on Facebook and Twitter.

The Akron Area Chapter of Public Relations Society of America is part of the world’s largest organization for public relations professionals helping to advance the profession and the professional. Its nearly 115 local members represent business and industry, counseling firms, independent practitioners, military, government, associations, hospitals, schools, professional services firms and nonprofit organizations.

The Public Relations Student Society of America is a national public relations organization that provides professional development opportunities for students. PRSSA aims to develop highly qualified future public relations professionals. The organization has more than 10,000 members at hundreds of universities across the country. PRSSA Kent is an active student organization on the Kent State Campus.