PROMISING STARTS: FOUR MEMBERS OF THE CLASS OF 2017
First impressions. First classes. First days of independence.
Freshmen in JMC’s class of 2017, like college freshmen of every era, started college filled with apprehensions and aspirations.
But today’s freshmen face some remarkable new challenges, too: sweeping technological changes that continue to transform the communication industry, an aggressive job market where hundreds of applicants often vie for the same job and new business models that trend toward freelancing and independent contracting. These factors require today’s freshmen to begin charting their professional courses from “day one” by participating in JMC’s nationally recognized independent student media, student professional organizations, networking opportunities, and personal brand-building exercises.
Each member of the class of 2017 has a fascinating story to tell. In this issue of JARGON, we highlight four stories about four freshmen who are, indeed, off to promising starts.
For Hanna Moore, it was love at first sight. The North Olmsted, Ohio, native recalls, “Once I visited Kent State, I knew there was nowhere else I wanted to go. After I toured Franklin Hall, I could see myself going here and doing really well.”
Hanna visited Kent State for the first time in February 2012 – an undeniably chilly season for college visits. But a tour of Franklin Hall ignited a spark in Hanna. “Seeing the newsroom and the TV2 studio made me want to get involved. Franklin Hall definitely has a professional feel to it. The technology and classrooms are up to date. The facility feels very real.”
An honors student and member of the Provost’s Leadership Academy, Moore is pursuing a degree in public relations. Her interest in the field was fueled by her own research and the experiences of her cousin,Taylor Titus, ’13. “When I was investigating careers, I discovered public relations. I like writing and speaking, and I discovered that PR professionals do a lot of the things I’m good at. I also talked with Taylor, who got her degree in PR. She had great experiences in JMC’s PR program and made good friends here.”
Moore dug into her major right away. “From day one, I was in JMC classes like Multimedia Newswriting and Multimedia Techniques. I liked the professors and I liked the smaller classes. It just felt right.”
The newswriting class was the highlight of Moore’s first semester. “I had never written a news story before. Professor [Candace] Bowen knew we were beginners. She worked us through it. I put in a lot of extra time, and I ended up writing articles I’ll put in my professional portfolio.”
She also joined PRSSA Kent early in fall semester. “I was intimidated at first, but [senior] Meghan Caprez is my PRSSA mentor, and she made me feel confident because she was looking out for me.”
In spring semester, Moore strengthened her focus on learning experiences that will advance her career interests, such as the Public Relations Case Studies course. “I am one of the youngest students in the class, and it’s intimidating. But it’s a small class and we work in teams with a real client, and that’s really cool,” she says. “Actually, it’s more than a class. It’s my first real test of my professional goals.”
She also joined the Daily Kent Stater as a designer to “understand how newspapers and deadlines work.”
Moore would like to work in corporate PR for NBC, ABC or Disney and is already considering internship options while building her work portfolio. “By the time I interview for an internship, I will have a strong portfolio. And my personal brand is emerging.”
What’s next for Moore? “I’m considering a production position with TV2. I want to try everything while I’m here.”
The high school-to-college transition wasn’t the steep uphill climb that advertising major Olivia Rohde expected. “In high school they warn you that college is such a big change. You expect that your professors won’t care, but here at JMC, they do care,” she says. “Professors here make sure you understand the syllabi and they meet with you when you need help.”
For Rohde, Kent State is a family affair. “My brother went here, so I know the campus and I like it here.” She commutes from Aurora each day, and finds the campus to be beautiful and accessible. “I love the trees, and I love how easy it is to get around here. And there are a lot of resources – the writing center, labs, and commuter lounges.”’
Rohde first stepped foot in Franklin Hall during the Destination Kent State orientation in June 2013. “It was very modern, with great classrooms and without traditional desks. I felt comfortable, and not at all overwhelmed,” she recalls.
Rohde’s first semester experience was equally positive. “I look classes like Introduction to Mass Communication, Principles of Advertising, Modern History and Human Geography. I didn’t expect my classes to be so closely connected. My Modern History class related to Intro to Mass Communication. Everything I learned was useful and interrelated. And everything was interesting – everything applied to real life. We’d read about advertising campaigns and then see the concepts applied.”
Rohde recognizes that commuters often face unique acclimation challenges on residential campuses. “It’s harder to make friends as a commuter, so you have to focus on meeting people in class. Fortunately, it’s a friendly culture here. You can meet people from different majors and different walks of life, and you share JMC as a common interest.”
Co-curricular experiences play a large part in Rohde’s academic plans. She aspires to work for an advertising agency, so she plans to join Franklin Advertising Associates, JMC’s student advertising club. She is also interested in having her own show on Black Squirrel Radio. “There are lots of chances to get involved here,” she says. “What you put into your experience here is what you’ll get out of it. It’s important to take an active interest in what you’re learning.”
Balance is also important, she emphasizes. “Learn to set aside time to do homework, be involved with organizations and be with friends.”
Rohde offers a final piece of advice that is completely in keeping with the freshman experience: “Carve out specific time to sleep. Sleep is very important!”
Coming to Kent State was an opportunity for reinvention for Cedric Simmons, an electronic media major. “High school was an awkward time for me. I struggled,” he recalls. “When I began considering Kent State, my mom told me this was an opportunity to reinvent myself, to really grow.”
Simmons began seizing the opportunity to redirect his life even before the academic year started. “I started in the STARS Program [a program for newly enrolled African American, Latino American and Native American freshmen] last summer, and it really helped give me a taste of school in a controlled environment, with a mentor to help me.” Simmons was selected to become a STARS “elder” – a position of leadership among other students. “I was expected to be an example to others, so I stepped in and did my best. The experience taught me to be independent and trained me to be an efficient college student.”
The experience paid off. Cedric is now maintaining a 3.7 grade point average. “I’m doing way better than I ever did in high school,” he says.
Key to his academic success is being at “ease” at JMC. “When I first came to Kent State for a visit in March 2013, I wasn’t certain about this place. But after my tour of Franklin Hall, I thought ‘This is it. This is for me.’ I didn’t feel out of place. I honestly felt at home, with none of the awkwardness of high school.”
First encounters also made a difference to the Chicago native. “Last summer I met JMC professor Gene Shelton. I introduced myself and he said, ‘I like your name. I’m going to remember it.’ That made me feel good,” Simmons recalls. “I told him I was going to be in his Introduction to Mass Communication course and he told me to sit up front, and I did.”
Shelton’s advice helped Simmons recognize the importance of personal branding. “I make sure people remember my name. In class, I make sure my teachers hear my voice.”
Simmons also adapted quickly and well to life inside CCI Commons, the residential learning community for communication majors. “My closest friends come from CCI Commons. It’s a blessing to be with those of the same major. They know where you’re coming from,” he says.
Simmons, who plans to become a resident advisor, looks for opportunities to help others. “I realize that lots of freshmen didn’t get to come to college early and attend STARs, so they might still be stuck in high school. I try to help them. I try to be a light to others. I feel like a leader, and I check myself regularly to be sure I know where I’m heading.”
The enterprising freshman plans to work in the entertainment industry, and he is pursuing courses and co-curricular activities accordingly. “I’m taking Record Promotion, Videography Basics and Media Writing. I’m also interested in joining Kent State Independent Films.”
Simmons can easily recite his bucket list of aspirations. “I want to write, film, direct or act in a movie that premieres at the Sundance Film Festival. I want to win a Grammy as a music producer. And I want to attend the Academy Awards.”
Simmons understands these are big-ticket aspirations, but reasons “If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.”
Until Sundance beckons, he is perfectly content at Kent State. “I sit on my bed every day and look out the window at the beautiful view, and I think, ‘There’s no place I’d rather be than Kent State.’ I feel accepted here. I can be who I am.”
Sixty-seven hundred miles. More than 10 thousand kilometers. That’s the approximate distance between Beijing, China, and Kent State – and it’s also how far away Mengting (Molly) Ying is from her home.
Ying, a freshman journalism major, learned about Kent State when searching online for U.S. colleges and universities.
“I decided to study in the U.S. because I want to learn about the world, not just Asia. I had heard of Kent State, because we studied the May 4 killings in high school. Viewing Kent State and JMC online, I had a feeling of belonging here.”
Ying comes by her interest in journalism naturally. Her father, Jiang Ying, is a journalist with China’s Xihua News Agency – and, ironically, a reluctant supporter of her career choice. “My father didn’t agree with my choice for a career – he believes that journalism is a hard and dangerous profession for women – but he respects my decision.”
JMC has met Ying’s expectations. “The program here is very good. There’s a lot of choice. I won’t just concentrate on journalism. I want to learn photography, design and many other things."
Ying is also interested in learning about different lifestyles, and she’s a keen observer of the contrasts between Beijing and Kent. She grew up on the 17th floor of a high-rise apartment in downtown Beijing – “a big, noisy city with a huge population. People in Beijing are busy and stressed. And there are skyscrapers everywhere.”
She arrived in Kent in August 2013 to discover a small, tree-lined city of profound “quiet.” She was quickly surrounded by “friendly, relaxed people.” She liked the look and feel of the campus. “It’s modern. Franklin Hall looks historic, but inside it’s cool – especially Black Squirrel Radio.”
Ying, who learned English in elementary school, has found it easy to navigate her first two semesters. Now, she is taking a leadership role as a member of JMC’s new Student Voice Team. “I get to offer advice and ideas. It’s like we are the owners of the School. We have a voice and duty to make the School even better.” She credits Gene Shelton, her Introduction to Mass Communication professor, for opening the door to this opportunity. “He really encouraged me.”
Ying is also a member of Kent State’s Chinese Student Scholar Association and looks forward to joining Teleproductions or TV2.
Her first year in a new country and culture has not been entirely easy for Ying. “I wasn’t homesick at first, but at Thanksgiving, when everyone went home to their families, I felt homesick.” Ying has made friends at Kent State, especially among the growing international community, and at CCI Commons where she lives.
Ying plans to work behind the camera as a news director or documentary filmmaker in China. “I’m learning the profession at JMC – how to shoot video, how to write news. I’m also learning how to prepare my resume and cover letters.”
Ying encourages other Chinese students to study at JMC. “Lots of Chinese students choose business or marketing because they are afraid of writing. But professors and advisors at JMC really help you. They recognize that international students need help, and at JMC, they really care about diversity.”