Communication Students Aid Community Through Coursework
There are few classes at Kent State that truly allow students to make a difference in others’ lives through their coursework. But one class in the school of Communication Studies is allowing students to do just that.
Communication and Influence is a writing-intensive class required for most Communication Studies majors. The class introduces students to the basic principles, theories and concepts that relate to persuasion.
The capstone project of the class requires students to create a persuasive campaign. Students have freedom when creating their campaign. Campaigns can range from political in nature, to a non-profit. The only catch is that their campaigns must involve making a difference in some way.
“The first day of class, I charge them with doing something good for the world and something that is going to help someone else”, said Professor and instructor of the class, Rekha Sharma.
Sharma taught the class this semester and said student persuasion campaigns ranged from helping non-profit, The Hope Lodge, to raising money to combat LGBTQ homelessness.
Two senior Communication Studies students, Alicia Wendling and Britnie Badanjek, chose to center their campaign around the LGBTQ Student Center, helping to raise money for their emergency fund to combat LGBTQ homelessness.
“We chose this organization because it Is very dear to both of us, as we both identify in the LGBTQ community”, Badanjek said.
“One of my friends actually become homeless after coming out, so this was a topic I was passionate about as well”, Wendling added.
Wendling said the campaign had two goals: To raise awareness of LGBTQ homelessness and the unique problem it presents and to raise money for the Kent State LGBTQ Emergency Fund. They focused specifically on Kent State students and faculty as they felt they would be most willing to donate to their cause.
“We researched and found many people in the Northeast Ohio region with an educational background are more open to LGBTQ rights, but might not know LGBTQ homelessness is a serious issue”, Wendling said.
Badanjek and Wendling hosted an event for their project, titled “Lending a Hand”, where they laid out a banner and invited student to add their handprint as a sign of support. They also collected donations and spoke to students individually about LGBTQ homelessness.
Neither Badanjek or Wendling had prior experience implementing a campaign, but both agreed it was one of the most beneficial things they’ve done at Kent State
“Not only did I help out a great cause, but the things I learned from this campaign will help me throughout my career”, Wendling said.
“Seeing all of our hard work pay off was really rewarding, Badanjek added. “One of the most important steps in any project is believing in yourself.”
Sharma also shared in Wendling and Badankej’s praise for the class and hoped the students took something positive away from it.
“Students sometimes wonder if the things they learn in the classroom will translate to the real world”, Sharma said. “It helps when they do these types of projects and make the connection and see tangible outcomes.”