Each year, the UM-Flint Communication program recognizes a few students out of its graduating seniors. We are pleased to share the accolades of those recognized for the May 2016 commencement ceremony:
- Donald Rady, winner of the Outstanding Scholarship Award in Communication. This award is presented to the Communication major graduating in the current academic year who has exhibited the highest quality coursework throughout their academic career.
- Stephanie Hare, winner of the Dottie Filak Outstanding Leadership Award. This award is presented to the Communication major graduating in the current academic year who has demonstrated the greatest impact on campus and community through engagement. The award is named after the late Dorothy Filak, Lecturer IV of Communication.
- Natalie Broda and Savanna Burnett, co-winners of the Chuck Apple Outstanding Student in Communication Award. This award is presented to the Communication major(s) graduating in the current academic year who best combine academic strength and engagement to leave the highest mark on their colleagues. It is the highest honor bestowed by the Communication faculty on a graduating student. The award is named after Associate Professor Emeritus of Communication Charles Apple.
Says department chair Marcus Paroske, “The awards for graduating Communication majors are the faculty’s way of recognizing excellence in students for not only their academic performance, but for their leadership on campus and their overall contributions to the community. It is a hard choice every year, but this year we have an especially strong group. It often comes as a surprise to the students, but they should be proud of how hard they worked to earn these awards.”
The Award Winners
When asked for a quote in response to winning his award, Rady said, “I think that a good quote would be from Psalm 23:1-3. ‘The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.’ Thanks to God, I have been successful at UM-Flint. I think that this award can be considered a good blessing. I am mildly autistic and am considered a walking enclyclopedia. I think that with God and my autism, I was able to be successful as I am today.”
Dr. Sara Rosaen, Associate Professor of Communication, noted, “Don is a committed student, the kind-of student you really appreciate because he appreciates learning.”
Dr. Tony McGill, lecturer IV in Communication, was one of the faculty who enjoyed teaching Hare. He said, “Stephanie is intelligent and always fun to work with. Her energy level is usually off the charts. She had me for two classes this semester and always put a smile on my face. She created several new cheers this semester: Go Tony, Go Tony was my favorite.”
Dr. Rosen added, “Stephanie can get any group motivated and turn a frown upside down in two seconds flat!”
When asked about being an award recipient, Hare said, “My experience as a communication student here at UM-Flint has been challenging yet enlightening. I’m both honored and humbled to receive such an award.”
In addition to being an exception communication student, Hare has served as the Director of Student Relations for Student Government as well as a Peer Educator for the Women’s Educational Center and an intern for the Student Involvement and Leadership Center. Her concentrations in Organizational Communication and Public Relations will serve her well in her post-graduation plans which she lists as “doing an internship at Disney World following graduation. Then shortly after that, I’ll be doing a Masters program in Student Affairs.”
Natalie Broda is another highly engaged UM-Flint student: “I am a Communication major with a specialization in Media Studies and a minor in Writing. I am also a five-year staff member of The Michigan Times and its Editor-in-Chief for the last two years. I am also an Undergraduate Research Assistant/Co-Founder of thearchwayflint.org, part of the Flint Youth Media Project, a program started by professor Donna Ullrich, other students and myself three years ago.”
About the award, she added, “I was touched when I found out I won the award. Over the last five years I’ve been lucky enough to be mentored by amazing, dedicated and thought-provoking faculty, and it’s an honor to be recognized by the Communication program. I’ve had many conversations over the years with my professors about how I felt the program was or was not helping students become professional media makers, and each and every time I was met with open doors and open minds. They took me seriously, challenged me to think on a higher level, and helped facilitate opportunities I never thought could be possible. The people who work in this department have never been just professors to me—they’ve been life mentors, guidance counselors and cheerleaders—and I’ll never be able to thank them enough for all that they’ve done.”
When asked whats next for her, Broda said, “After graduation I plan to move to Detroit to pursue a career in journalism and professional writing.”
Dr. Rosaen has no doubt she’ll be successful, noting, “Natalie is going places. I think we are going to see big things from her. She has skills.”
The Communication faculty had high praise for award-winner Savanna Burnett. Said Dr. Rosaen, “Savanna is earnest. She is hard-working, committed, and innovative.”
Dr. McGill added, “Savannah is quite unique and to say she is an interesting person is an understatement. She is the most dual brained student I have had in many years. She moves from right brain functions to left brain so quickly it caught me by surprise the first couple times. She is one of those old souls who seems to intuitively know and understand way more than they should. She is also one of the most polite and thoughtful students I have ever had. She can totally control an audience while singing, doing a formal presentation on a theory, or giving a PR pitch.”
Burnett, in turn, applauded her department and its faculty: “The communication program here at UM-Flint has allowed me to remain in the work force full time while pursuing this degree. If it wasn’t for the online classes, and the outstanding Communication [program], I wouldn’t have made it otherwise. Furthermore, it is very humbling to be recognized by a department that is so invested and hardworking themselves.”
When asked about her future plans, Burnett said, “I [was] recently voted onto the board of Restoration Place, a 501 C3 non profit founded by Amy Rouleua that seeks to build a home for girls 11-17 rescued from sex trafficking. We gain more momentum every day and continue to combat the darkness with support form the local community awareness concerning this issue. I hope to do many things in my lifetime career-wise; I have been working in HR these past few years and would like to continue in that vein. Eventually, I hope that my education will take me through to a Doctorate so that I can teach at a collegiate level.”
For more information on the Communication program, and the ways in which they support and engage their students, please visit their website.