An Engaged Department in the Community

The Department of Communication is committed to making sure students are engaged in the community and know the importance of making a difference on campus and off. Students in our classes take an active role, partnering with local businesses and non-profit organizations on a variety of projects. Our faculty has worked diligently to establish relationships with many municipal and corporate leaders, allowing our students to gain a "hands on" approach to their education. The students not only gain invaluable experience networking with industry professionals, they learn what it means to give back.

Highlights of Recent Projects

Dr. Erika Pribanic-Smith’s Digital Storytelling (JOUR 4341) students worked with Downtown Arlington Management Corp. to populate its blog at downtownarlington.org. Downtown Arlington's primary goal was building an online brand, a concept that we aim to reinforce with students in the journalism sequence. The organization also wanted to market itself and the entities within the downtown area to one of the largest stakeholders in the area, the University community, by offering a student perspective on its blog. Each student wrote one blog entry over the course of the semester, which, in addition to meeting the goals of Downtown Arlington, served to bring awareness to small businesses and charitable organizations in the downtown area. The project tied into course objectives perfectly as students wrote about subjects in line with their brands and treated it as a guest blogging opportunity, which they promoted on their social media accounts.

For the second year in a row, eight UTA Communication students served as interns for the 79th Cotton Bowl Classic during the week leading up to the January 1st game. Broadcast lecturer Lance Liguez and broadcast sequence head Dr. Andrew Clark oversaw the Cotton Bowl video project, which deals less with the X’s and O’s of the game and more with the fan experience and behind the scenes looks at putting the game together. Students covered visits by Baylor and Michigan State to area hospitals, discovered odd pre-game rituals, and showcased the hospitality provided to both players and media. All of the coverage provided video for the game’s YouTube channel and will stay on the game's channel for an entire year.

Students in Dr. Shelley Wigley's PR Campaigns course have spent the spring semester developing a campaign plan for TXU Energy Aid, the largest bill-payment assistance program among electricity providers in the nation. For every $1 donated, TXU Energy contributes approximately $5 and returns 100 percent of the funds to the local communities to help customers pay electric bills.

Each semester, Suzy Nead’s Group Communication students collect donations on behalf of numerous local non-profit organizations. Recent projects have benefitted many groups including the Arlington Animal Shelter, Children's Medical Center in Dallas, The American Red Cross, 4 the Troops, as well as local churches, schools and senior citizens centers.

Several non-profit organizations benefited from the work of students in April Blount’s group communication class lass fall. A group of five students, known as Men on a Mission, worked with Mission Arlington, a nonprofit known for providing food during the Thanksgiving holiday. After meeting with the organization and exploring areas in which they could help, this group of students decided to organize a “Turkey Drive” to help with Mission Arlington’s food drive. Men on a Mission was able to donate 18 turkeys and 6 cases of non-perishable food items.

Refugee Services of Texas is a nonprofit providing assistance to refugees, asylees, and survivors of human trafficking by helping them become self-sufficient in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. A group of students, known as Delivering with Care, chose to work with this organization for their final project. RST provides assistance in a variety of areas including furnishing apartments, locating employment, and even providing clothing. Unfortunately, not all refugees take advantage of these opportunities due to language barriers, lack of time, and sometimes lack of confidence. After seeing the overflowing clothes pantry, Delivering with Care decided to select clothes for families and packed 25 boxes to help organize the excess. These students took the boxed donations to the RST’s families and successfully reached 14 families, while creating a new volunteer opportunity. RST now has a way to get donations out to their families!

A group of students, known as Reading Corps, met with Arlington Reads to uncover the organization’s greatest needs. As part of its mission, Arlington Reads not only works to end illiteracy in our community, but it also works to instill a love of reading in young children by giving away books. Reading Corps collected over 500 books to distribute to children that this organization serves and provided more than 20 hours of tutoring!