Through Internship, Kent State Student Uses Communication Skills to Bridge Classrooms and Communities

Kent State student Katie Criswell, ’24, is actively engaged in telling the daily stories from Stow-Munroe Falls City Schools classrooms through her communication-focused internship. During the Fall 2023 semester, the Communication Studies major and Honors College student has been to each of the district’s 10 schools, capturing what’s going on and what’s exciting in classrooms. Putting skills she’s learned in her own classes to work, Criswell then takes the content she’s captured and transforms it into social media posts and stories for the district’s Community Connection magazine.

“My internship has taught me that I really enjoy community relations,” she says. “I love getting out there and talking to students, talking to teachers, talking to community members and seeing what's going on. How can we portray this? How can I tell your story?”

The North Canton native found her way to Kent State through her love of broadcast journalism in high school. She recognized that the College of Communication and Information offered many different majors and extracurriculars related to storytelling and communication. She ultimately decided on Communication Studies as her major — a pivot from her initial interest in journalism.

“I realized that maybe I didn't want to be behind the camera necessarily telling the story, but rather, I really valued those relationships that I made while I was out exploring,” Criswell said. “And that made me realize that I really love communication studies and community relations.”

In addition to her internship at Stow-Munroe Falls City Schools, Criswell is involved in H2O Church, the wellness organization CHAARG and Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society. She’s found that skills she’s learned in her Communication Studies classes — particularly Communication and Conflict, with Senior Lecturer Aaron Maguire — to be applicable in many scenarios.

“I use conflict management skills that I’ve learned, and ultimately, how to talk to someone, how to get to know them, how to learn their story, build those kinds of relationships,” she says. “And that helps me in any area, especially in groups I’m involved in on campus.”

Most recently, she got involved with Kent State’s Design Innovation Hub, taking on a student job as event planner for SkyHack, a hackathon where students of various disciplines come together over the course of a weekend to solve real problems in the aviation industry.

Katie Criswell (right) and fellow student at SkyHack

“While working at the Design Innovation Hub, my communication studies skills definitely applied directly to the outreach for our events,” Criswell said. “How am I going to go out and talk to students and recruit? How am I going to promote and bring people into this environment and make it friendly and fun?”

She said she also learned a lot about new technologies and the value of interdisciplinary groups of people coming together to solve problems.  

Heading into her final semester, Criswell says she’s grateful support from professors and fellow students: "I feel very valued as a student here at Kent State. And I know that all my professors and even my fellow classmates want the best for me and always push me to put my best foot forward.”

After graduation, she hopes to work in nonprofit community relations and outreach, and she feels prepared.

“Skills that I have learned such as public speaking, conflict management skills, social media skills, all of those I know will ultimately go directly into my workplace as a communications studies major,” she said. “Those will directly apply to any job that I am searching for.”

POSTED: Monday, November 20, 2023 01:42 PM
Updated: Monday, November 20, 2023 03:22 PM