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NEWARK, Del. — Last April, as University of Delaware seniors wrapped up their final courses before graduation, the Department of Communication acknowledged the work of six high-achieving undergraduate students. The communication majors received awards for leadership in public relations, broadcast journalism, interpersonal communication, and for plans to pursue graduate study. They expressed gratitude for the recognition and reflected on their experiences.
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Sarah Cullen graduated on May 28 with a bachelor of arts in communication.
Sarah Cullen received the department’s Interpersonal Award for excellence in the study of interpersonal communication. “Being a communication major at UD has instilled in me a love of community engagement, especially through my collaboration with the Center for Political Communication,” said Cullen. Through her study of interpersonal communication, Cullen discovered a passion for helping her community. “I will be spending this summer working at the New York City Anti-violence Project, and plan to spend my career in advocacy work and community development.” Cullen, who also majored in women and gender studies and minored in political science, was a Stavros Niarchos Foundation Leader with the Joseph R. Biden, Jr. School of Public Policy. She was also a student facilitator with the UDelEngage, a civic engagement initiative hosted by the Center for Political Communication and the Department of Communication.
Anna Favetta (AS22) received the Adi Patel Memorial Award for her work at WVUD Radio
Anna Favetta received the Adi Patel Memorial Award for her work at WVUD Radio, where she directed public relations and hosted her own show, Anna’s Themes. The award recognizes students who take a leadership role in UD’s student-run broadcast media. It was established in memory of Adi Patel, who led ITV Operations for UD’s Information Technology and Media Services until his death in 1997. Favetta said she plans to keep her broadcast journalism aspirations alive after college. “Although I have a job at a consulting company, I also intend to keep Anna's Themes going as a podcast and I know eventually, I will end up on the air again.” Favetta majored in public relations and philosophy and minored in ancient Greek and Roman studies.
As editor-in-chief of UDress Magazine, Valerie Light (AS22), expanded pre-professional opportunities for students.
Valerie Light received the Hal Kierce award for her commitment to professional excellence in the field of public relations. Barbara W. Hunter, the public relations pioneer who founded Hunter Public Relations, established the award in 1988 to honor a deceased colleague. The UD Alumni Association also honored Light with the Emalea Pusey Warner Award for academic achievement, leadership, and community service. Light plans to work in the beauty industry in New York City. As editor-in-chief of UDress Magazine, Light expanded the publication’s team to nearly 200 students to allow for more pre-professional development. As a Blue Hen ambassador, she assisted with the transition from on-campus to virtual tours during the pandemic. Light was also active in the Greek community as a member of Sigma Kappa and a Rho Gamma recruitment counselor. Light earned an honors degree in communication with a concentration in public relations and minors in advertising and fashion management.
Joy Paganucci gained pre-professional experience at WVUD and Student Television Network.
Joy Paganucci also received the Adi Patel Memorial Award. “The communication major at UD gave me the foundation to understanding a variety of aspects within media communications from public speaking, communicating strategies, writing, to video editing,” said Paganucci. “I was then able to narrow in on the focus of my choosing and pursue my passion for broadcasting, film and television.” She gained valuable experience as a disc jockey and radio host for WVUD and the executive producer of the Student Television Network show, “Real Talk.” “The Student Television Network not only taught me how to produce a live show, but to be confident in my skills as a communication leader. Upon graduation, I’m excited to pursue content creation and media communication in NYC,” said Paganucci, who earned an honors degree in media communication and a double minor in journalism and English.
Nicole Travis will pursue a master of arts degree in communication at UD.
Nicole Travis will pursue a master of arts in communication at UD. She received the Department of Communication’s Faculty Award as an outstanding senior major who plans to pursue graduate study and university teaching in the field of communication. “Being a communication major at UD shaped my career goals by opening my eyes to jobs and opportunities that I didn't even know existed,” said Travis, who graduated with a double major in communication and psychology, a minor in journalism, and a concentration in public relations. Travis was also a reporter for STN 49 News, an oral communications consultant, and an intern for the Center for Global Programs and Services and the Center for Political Communication.
Evelyn Zanowski (AS22) received the Lambda Pi Eta Award for her contributions to UD’s chapter of the National Communication Association’s official honor society.
Evelyn Zanowski received the Lambda Pi Eta Award for her contributions to UD’s chapter of the National Communication Association’s official honor society. In addition to her role as president of Lambda Pi Eta, she served as public relations director for the UD chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). She also spent two years on the advertising and public relations teams for UDress Magazine. Zanowski received a bachelor of arts degree in communication with a concentration in public relations and minors in fashion management and advertising.
“My advice for future communication majors at UD is to get involved! Joining clubs and organizations and meeting peers in my major helped me make study groups for classes and create lifelong friendships. Get outside your comfort zone and don’t be afraid to try something new. You only get four years at UD, make it count,” said Zanowski.
Paganucci said extracurricular activities helped her develop her job skills. “The Student Television Network, WVUD Radio, and The Review gave me hands-on experience that led to my internship opportunities. I was able to meet and collaborate with open minded and creative individuals with similar interests.”
Light agreed, encouraging communication students to “supplement their time at UD with experiences that excite them — that is where I found the most joy was when I was applying what I learned in class to things that were important to me.”
It’s also important to explore academically. “Take all kinds of communication classes, even if you already think you know what concentration you might want to take. You might be surprised at which subjects interest you the most,” said Cullen. “Having a comm major is an excellent opportunity to pick up a second major or a minor. Cross-listed classes make it easy, and it will allow you to combine disciplines making your education more specialized.”
“My favorite class was Dr. Steve Mortenson's COMM256, Philosophy of Communication. It was my first COMM class, my first honors class, and I felt as though everything I was learning was directly observable in everyday life,” said Light.
Paganucci also recommended Professor Mortenson’s class. “It was a class that didn't just teach me about the world around me, but I also learned a lot about myself. That class enabled me to have so much personal growth and gain a better understanding of my inner strengths.”
“My favorite communication class has to be COMM367, Media Performance, due to not only the professor [Nancy Karibjanian], but the course structure. Learning the ins and outs of the studio, while practicing actual skills, while being in an actual studio was amazing,” said Travis.
“Even though it was over Zoom, my favorite COMM class was COMM417, Communication and Management of Conflict taught by Professor Scott Caplan. Through the course, I gained valuable interpersonal skills, but also gained insight on myself as a person,” said Cullen.
To learn more about pursuing a degree in communication as well as experiential learning opportunities at the University of Delaware, visit www.communication.udel.edu.
Images courtesy of Sarah Cullen, Anna Favetta, Valerie Light, Joy Paganucci, Nicole Travis and Evelyn Zanowski