Comm Arts Students Intern with MLK50 Event

Post by Austin Maddox, public relations major

I am a huge fan of several different Christian publications. Articles from websites such as Desiring God, Radical, The Gospel Coalition and the ERLC fill my news feeds from various social platforms throughout any given day.

Often, I will read an article that catches my attention, be inspired or convicted, and then share with close friends who I know will appreciate the content as well. There have even been times where we have joked about how incredible it would be to write and work for one of these publications alongside the great minds of John Piper, Kevin DeYoung or Russell Moore. What a dream that would be.

So, you can imagine how I felt when my adviser, Ashley Blair, offered me an internship with the ERLC for their MLK50 event in Memphis.

As soon as I receive the email, I freaked out. The ERLC? Are you kidding? I transferred from my community college in the fall of 2017 and had only been at Union University for a full semester at this point, and I was already getting unbelievable opportunities to serve in my desired field. It was nuts!

Of course, I accepted the offer, and on April 3-4, I woke up at 5:30 a.m., put on a tie (which felt super cool), and Corinne Olund and I headed to Memphis with nerves and excitement filling our spirits. The entire trip down we talked about what we would possibly be doing, as well as praising God for generously giving us such an amazing chance to work with a prestigious organization such as the ERLC.

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I can honestly say that those two days were probably some of the busiest of my life. As soon as we arrived, we met with Dan Darling, VP for communications for the ERLC, and talked about our life goals and why chose to study public relations. The meeting ended with a valuable offer for a recommendation whenever we needed one, and possible future job offers.

Afterwards, we worked alongside Elizabeth Bristow, press secretary for the ERLC. She showed us the ropes on her job during events like this, such as organizing the press that would come to interview the speakers, as well as keeping up with the buzz about the event on social media and writing press releases and emails. It was a very eye-opening experience.

Not only did we work hard, but we also got the opportunity to meet some of my personal role models, such as Russell Moore, Matt Chandler and John Piper. It was such a surreal experience.

After the work was done the last day, Corinne and I said our goodbyes to all of our new friends at the ERLC and headed back towards Union. The whole way home we talked about our experience, and how thankful we are for a school that values their students, knows them personally and matches them with opportunities that will further their professional careers and allow personal growth.

I can’t thank you enough, Union Communication Arts!

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Union University Players to Present Little Women Musical

The Union University Players will present a musical by Allan Knee based on the classic American novel “Little Women” March 23–28.

Read more about this production in our news release.

The following photos are from dress rehearsal earlier this week. We hope to see you in the audience! Purchase tickets online or at the door.

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Photos by Kristi Woody

Boston trip provides inside look at PR in action for communication arts students

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Post by Anna Claire Sewell, PRSSA President
Photos by Ashley Fitch Blair and Shelby Kee

As I glanced around at my peers on the flight home, I couldn’t help but think about what an awesome experience we had in Boston. As students in Union University’s communication arts department, we are presented with opportunities through our PRSSA chapter that are not only educationally enriching, but also exciting.

PRSSA, Public Relations Student Society of America, is an on-campus organization that allows students to lead and learn through the integration of knowledge and professional development. Along with a day trip to meet with communication professionals in the fall, Union’s PRSSA chapter takes a trip to a larger market during the spring semester.

During our stay in Boston, we met with communication specialists in three different areas of the field. The first morning there was freezing — actually, quite below freezing. It did not faze us! We grabbed our coffee and were excited for the day ahead.

Our first meeting was with Shawn McBride, executive vice president of sports at Ketchum Sports & Entertainment. McBride shared about his love of working in a fast-paced international PR firm and gave us advice as we enter the work force.

A few short train rides later, we found ourselves stepping into a broadcast dreamland. The communications team at WGBH Boston gave us a behind-the-scenes look at how they handle strategic communication for such a large station. Here’s the most exciting part: WGBH Boston produces one-third of the national programming on PBS. A few of the shows produced by this station include Arthur, Zoom, Antiques Roadshow, The American Experience and NOVA!

To see the amount of work put into the shows I enjoyed throughout my childhood into adulthood really put my future career into perspective. This visit showed me that while I will only be one communications specialist, my work has the potential to affect millions of people.

Our list of professional visits concluded T.K. Skenderian, director of communication for the Boston Athletic Association and its signature event, the Boston Marathon. This meeting provided us with a chance to ask questions about nonprofit work and crisis communication. Skenderian shared some powerful insights through his experience with the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing on how to carefully handle crisis communication during a tragedy. From that experience, Skenderian tied in his love for working for a cause bigger than himself.

In addition to the professional development aspect of the trip, we also spent some time checking out historical sites and taking in the local flare that Boston has to offer. From the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum visit, to the multiple cannoli consumed, to the large amounts of coffee purchased to keep us warm in the cold wind, we got a small glimpse at how Boston culture plays into the work environments in the Northeast.

When I decided to declare my major as public relations, I had no idea how many doors could be opened with a degree in the communications field. Our trip to Boston provided each member of PRSSA the chance to dive deeper into what exactly it means to be a communication professional. This Boston experience was an excellent way to top off my time at Union with peers who have become friends and professors who have become mentors.

As I picked up my bags at the airport to head back to Jackson, I left with a feeling of purpose and excitement for what is ahead for me and each of my fellow communications majors.

History of Animation: Special Interest Elective

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During the spring semester, students had the opportunity to learn about the origins, process and legacy of animated film in a history of animation class. The class, taught by Chris Blair, professor of communication arts, traced animation from its beginning in the late 1800s to the early 2000s.

Gabe Hilliard, junior public relations major, said he knew he wanted to take the class from the moment he saw the poster.

“It’s kind of a weird class to take,” Gabe said. “It’s not really part of my major, but it looked so interesting and like a lot of fun.”

The class included lectures and readings, but the students also watched animated films and documentaries in class. Gabe said he grew up watching cartoons and little else, and he never grew out of them. He said he had seen most of the movies watched in class, but he was more impressed with them after learning about the roles of individual animators.

“I didn’t ever think about just how much they were the key,” Gabe said. “It relies solely on them to draw the animations. I had no idea Ub Iwerks, Chuck Jones and guys like that existed, aside from Disney, but I had seen their work.”

As part of the class, students were required to make their own short animations using traditional methods. Gabe said while working on the project he realized it is important to have an idea of the final product. He said this is something he can apply to his work in public relations.

“Even though an individual piece might not seem important, it will mess up the big picture if it isn’t done well,” he said.

Anna-Alicia Sails, a senior broadcast journalism major, said she has also liked animation since she was a child, but she knew very little about it and had not seen most of the films shown in the class. She said the process of animation was very interesting to her.

“I loved learning about the equipment and how it started with the cameras, vitascope, multi-plane cameras and all that went into it,” Anna-Alicia said. “Knowing a little more about that I think will help me in broadcasting where I’m around cameras every day.”

She said she was also fascinated by the early life of Walt Disney, and she wanted to learn even more about him after taking the class.

“At first he wasn’t very successful, but he ended up being so influential,” she said. “Just seeing his hardship and how he worked so hard, he is the epitome of never giving up.”

The history of animation class is open to all students and will be part of the new film studies major beginning this fall.

Story by Nathan Handley, photos by Kristi Woody

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