Alumni News and Notes
COMM Alumni in the Eberly News and Notes[Snippet Error: Feed could not be read.]
- Betsy Ditrinco (M.A. ‘12)
- Frankie Dennison (M.A. ‘11)
- Scott Hyland (B.A. ‘08)
- Loryn Spady (B.A. ‘15)
- Justus Pastor (B.A. ‘14)
- Natasha West (B.A. ‘14)
- Katie Frick (B.A. ‘10)
- Amy Beers (B.A. ‘11)
- Zach Hogbin (B.A. ‘10)
- Carrie Scanlon (M.A. ‘95)
- Alex Smith (B.A. ‘06)
- Tammy Whitacre (B.A. ‘02, M.A. ‘03)
- James “Jake” Bernardo (B.A., ‘11)
Betsy Ditrinco (M.A. ‘12)Current Position: Editor, Labor News of Rochester, NY
What are your job responsibilities? “I create and curate content for regional print publication sponsored by the Rochester Building and Construction Trades.”
How has your degree helped since graduation? “My degree has helped me with cross-departmental management, collection and organization of constantly changing information, communicating with organizational members and the ability to effectively communicate with external stakeholders such as construction workers, local business leaders, and politicians.”
Frankie Dennison (M.A., ‘11)Current Position: Executive Director, Humane Society of Harrison County
What are your job responsibilities? “I am responsible for coordinating and supervising all organization employees, auxiliary services & shelter volunteers and activities, under the policies set by the Humane Society of Harrison County.”
How has your degree helped since graduation? “My degree allowed me to land my dream job. I have always loved animals, and helped rescue them for many years through volunteering. I was then appointed Executive Director of the Humane Society of Harrison County and I am now being paid to rescue animals. My degree allows me to write grant proposals, perform at public speaking events, research better ways to run our shelter, and use various types of media to get support for our organization. Overall, the skills I learned with my Comm Studies M.A degree are invaluable in my day to day activities.”
Scott Hyland (B.A. ‘08)Current Position: Marketing Strategy Consultant with Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield.
What are your job responsibilities? “I am a Independent contributor within the government products (Medicare, Medicaid, and Affordable Care Act) branch of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. I formulate comprehensive marketing & sales strategies to drive the meeting and exceeding of corporate membership and financial goals. Also, I collect and analyze market research, campaign result data, sales performance and other market factors to inform strategic direction. Lastly, I communicate marketing & sales strategy recommendations to corporate leadership teams.”
How has your degree helped since graduation? “My experience in the Communication Studies program has equipped me to be very comfortable expressing my business input and interacting with many different teams and individuals – up and down the corporate hierarchy. Two particular skills that have benefited me are written communication and persuasion.”
Loryn Spady (B.A. ‘15)Current Position: Assistant Catering Coordinator in the Seattle area.
How has your degree help you since graduation? “My degree has benefited me in more ways than I can count and in ways I probably haven’t realized yet. Earning my COMM degree has pushed me to think analytically, provided me with those extra skills to communicate with people from all backgrounds spanning multitudes of topics in both personal and professional environments, and has given me the framework to have a Plan B, C, and D on the fly. I am entirely comfortable communicating with anyone in any context with a level-head and I owe a part of that to the skills developed through my COMM courses.”
What advice do you have for current majors? “Don’t shy away from going for what you really want and taking risks. Network, network, network: I know undergrads hear it all the time but it is unbelievably true. You never know who your contacts know; I actually got my current job after graduation through a completely unexpected weak tie! Talk to your professors outside of class: go over your test scores with them, ask them for advice, stop and talk to them for five minutes in the hallway. Find a balance between work and play: commitment to studies and self-application is hugely important, but having fun and a healthy social life is key to keeping sanity. Lastly, enjoy every second of being a WVU student while you can, it flies by way too quickly.”
Justus Pastor (B.A. ‘14)Current Position: Operation Supervisor at Exel Logistics.
How has your degree help you since graduation? “My COMM degree benefited me in many ways. First it opened doors up for me that would have previously been closed had I decided to focus on one area of emphasis. Second, I believe that the daily interaction with others focusing on their communicative senses heightened my own making me a better communicator in the workplace to my associates. Finally, the COMM Department is full of cool people who are really easy to get along, this made going to class a lot more enticing.”
What advice do you have for current majors? “My advice to any undergrad would be the same advice my advisor gave to me. Try your hand at almost everything and get involved with as much as possible so that you can have the most well rounded experience possible in college.”
Natasha West (B.A. ‘14)Current Position: Social Media Marketing Specialist with the Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness in Washington, DC.
How has your degree help you since graduation? “My degree has helped me stick out from other people in the social media field. I’m still using the majority of the theories that Dr. Nick Bowman taught me during undergrad to show that I have more knowledge than the average social media user. I’m not sure I would be so confident if it weren’t for his COMM 335 and COMM 425 classes. A lot of the employers I’ve worked with want proof that you know what you’re talking about, so the corporate social media plan that you create in COMM 335 really helps you stand out for entry-level positions.”
What advice do you have for current majors? “If I could go back and give myself some advice it would be to network as much as possible. After moving to DC, I realized just how important networking is—especially with social media. People are more willing to share your content and engage with you if you have taken the initiative to get to know them and their organization. Your professors are a great place to start. I’m lucky enough to have had some great professors throughout my undergraduate career that have helped me make some pretty important decisions. Plus, they’ve been around the field longer and usually have some great connections.”
Katie Frick (B.A. ‘10)Current Position: Communications Specialist at UPMC Hamot in Eric, PA.
How has your degree help you since graduation? “Not only my former professors helping me with the graduate school applications, but the skills you learn in each class is extremely beneficial. With communication courses, each class applies to any field of work. I can’t think of one class from comm studies that hasn’t helped me in graduate school or my career.”
What advice do you have for current majors?
“Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you can’t do something or that something isn’t possible. You create your own path-just have to work hard!”
Amy Beers (B.A.’11)Current Position: Administrative Coordinator with the Embassy of Canada in Washington, D.C.
How has your degree help you since graduation? “My Communication Studies degree has helped me in more ways than I can count, but one of the biggest ways it helped me was realizing the value of networking! As soon as I was in the market for a job, I started networking! Anything you can do to get your name and face out there is a good thing. You will be surprised by how many people you meet who will be willing to take a chance on you. I took every single opportunity I was given and ran with it.”
What advice do you have for current majors? “My biggest advice is to network, but I can say once you get that first job, realize where you are on the totem pole. You work those crazy hours that no one wants to work and do that job no one wants to do. Always have pride in what you’re doing, nothing is beneath you and work hard. Remember you are constantly being judged, and there are 10 other people fresh out of college who would love your job. Show them what you’ve got and what you’re capable of! Take everything as a learning experience and enjoy the ride. Let’s go Mountaineers!”
Zach Hogbin (B.A.’10)Current Position: Assistant Site Manager at Harkins Builders, Inc.
How has your degree help you since graduation? “75% of most jobs are driven by communication, and this is especially the case in the construction management field. It’s also extremely important that my company knows how to build a building, but if we didn’t know how to communicate to our subcontractors or between our own team members, we wouldn’t get anything done. The communication studies program gave me the skills and confidence to break into and learn about a field that I knew fairly little about as an entry level employee. It continues to help me day to day as I advance in my career.”
What advice do you have for current majors? “Use your time in school wisely. Take advantage of the professors and advisors that are there to help you. I would also suggest picking a specified field that you want to pursue. The options for a Communication Studies major are essentially endless, but if you don’t take the time to gain the knowledge and experience in a particular field it may be tough getting hired upon graduation.”
Carrie Scanlon (B.A. ‘95)Current Position: Director of Communications and Philantrophy, Bordas and Bordas, LLC
How has your degree help you since graduation? “The MA program at WVU taught me to think critically. I learned how to be a student and how to discover more than what was on the surface. I also made lifelong friends who now are colleagues with whom I share ideas, war stories and creative inspiration.”
What advice do you have for current majors? “Network. Network. Network. And, take risks…don’t turn down opportunities that could give you valuable experience. Good enough is no longer good enough. Today you need to be extraordinary. Find ways to stand out and be exceptional.”
Alex Smith (B.A. ‘06)Current Position: Associate Integration Producer, ESPN
How has your degree help you since graduation? “The COMM internship program placed me with the Mountaineer Sports Network, which not only helped me realize my passion for sports broadcasting, but allowed me to gain valuable work experience that would be key when applying for jobs following graduation.”
What advice do you have for current majors? “Take advantage of the internship program offered by COMM; I credit it with helping me get to where I am today.”
Tammy Whitacre (B.A. ‘02, M.A. ‘03)Current Position: Director of Development, Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center
How has your degree helped you since graduation? “I can say with absolute certainty, without my Communication Studies Degree from WVU, I would not be in the position I am today. I learned how to better understand people, interact with them, and how to be my best self. All qualities needed in the world of fundraising.”
What advice do you have for current majors? “The Communication Studies Department is like a family. The professors will always have your back, help you to succeed, and provide you with the courage to fulfill your dreams, whatever they may be.”
James “Jake” Bernardo (B.A., ‘11)Current Position: Merchandise Control Coordinator, Macy’s
How has your degree helped you since graduation? My communication studies degree has helped me greatly. My degree coupled with my publicity internship opened a lot of different doors and has landed me a marketing job.
What advice do you have for current majors? “Set yourself up with more than one direction you might want to go into after graduation, and plant seeds in different areas of the job market. Try and do an internship that will benefit you, don’t just do it for the credit! WVU Communication Studies is the best program at the university and I’d go into it 100 times over.”