This past summer, Robert “Ellis” Cochran proved that perseverance pays off. After applying three times to the Smithsonian Museum the previous summer, he was finally selected to intern in Washington, D.C., at the National Museum of National History, one position of just eighteen at the prestigious institute and selected from a pool of more than six hundred. Communication professor and one of Ellis’s mentors through the SOU McNair Program, Alena Ruggerio, also commented that “He was perfect for the Smithsonian opportunity because the internship combined his personal passion with his academic training,” since the museum wanted candidates without extensive research experience but still enough to conduct their own projects. His unique opportunity to research how orientation signs affect how much people learn in exhibits allowed him important firsthand experience that reinforced his post-graduation aspiration to get his PhD in rhetoric so he can study the rhetoric and resulting impact of signs in museums and zoos. Ellis also commented that he felt like he was “going to join the Hall of Fame” because the poster resulting from his work will appear in the Smithsonian intern archive.
There are plenty of jokes about English majors, all revolving around the idea that they don’t have marketable skills for the professional environment. However, students in the SOU English Department, particularly those with a Professional Writing concentration, are discrediting these quips one internship at a time, thanks to the skills they learn and the professors they encounter. Continue reading
Robert Ellis Cochran, a major in human communication at Southern Oregon University, was awarded an internship position with the Natural History Research Experience at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, for the summer 2012. Continue reading
In Alena Ruggerio’s COMM 210 Public Speaking last term, every student’s dream became a reality: a free textbook. Using Flat World Knowledge —an organization that offers free textbooks across various subjects—she decided to “experiment,” as she puts it, by choosing a text offered by the site that students could access for free online or purchase for much less than most books would cost. Continue reading
Rebecca Fronek exchanged her dreams of becoming a missionary for a chance to major in communications at SOU and hasn’t regretted the decision. In fact, thanks to COMM 342: Persuasion, she managed to achieve her goal of benefiting Medford’s homeless by organizing an event with the Medford Gospel Mission Women’s Shelter called “Every Woman Deserves Christmas.”
On Friday December 9, community members—all women since men are not allowed at the shelter—arrived for the event with gift bags containing items from a list of essentials, including anything from bus passes to socks. Although her professor, Alena Ruggerio, doesn’t require students to take their completed persuasion campaigns to community organizations, Fronek found the community could more easily meet the need her campaign addressed and decided to contact a local nonprofit.
When choosing what organization to pitch her campaign to, she wanted to pick a place people often overlook since “a lot of things are geared toward children and a lot of the time people forget there are others in need.” Because of that choice and with the support of Janet Fairrington, the shelter’s director, Fronek managed to create a Christmas memory for the women staying at the Medford shelter.
CAS Student Intern
Professor Ruggerio instructs her Advanced Public Speaking (COMM 310) class to prepare persuasive speeches for local charitable organizations. Looks like a typical assignment, especially for a communication major, but looks can be deceiving.
Each year since first assigning this project, Ruggerio has raised the stakes by having each student contribute five dollars, all of which is then donated to the organization represented in the winning speech. While students would still try hard without this incentive, Ruggerio believes “it shows everybody has a stake in everyone’s speech because they get to decide where their money goes.” The assignment not only teaches her students techniques for persuasive speeches but shows them “their skills really can make a difference.” Continue reading