Alumni Stories

Photo of Communication Studies Grad Student #1
 

Alumni Stories

Here are some remarkable stories from our alumni.

Updates

Fall 2017

Kevin Thor ('16) earned his BA in Communication Studies and his BS/BA in Management. He won a coveted Fulbright fellowship, leading to a year in Vietnam, and is moving into global nonprofit/NGO work.

Julia Moore (PhD 2016), Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of Utah, has won the National Communication Association's Gerald Miller Dissertation Award. The association-wide Miller Dissertation Award was endowed in 1971 and honors top dissertations across the communication discipline. Dr. Moore is the first Nebraska graduate to win this award. The faculty in Communication Studies, her committee, and Dr. Moore's Advisor, Dr. Dawn O. Braithwaite, are extremely proud of Julia and her work. Dr. Moore has been named the winner of the National Communication Association Interpersonal Communication Divisional Dissertation Award as well.

Diana Carlin (PhD 1985) established and endowed the Diana Carlin Research Fellowships to support graduate research. She retired in 2016 as an associate dean at St. Louis University.

Spring 2014

Paul Turman (Ph.D. 2000) has been named the South Dakota University System Vice President for Academic Affairs. He has been working for the SD Board of Regents heading up academic assessment, research, and economic development efforts.

Audrey Fox (B.A. 2013) works as an Analyst, Client Service and Developmental Specialist for HUMANeX VENTURES. Audrey was an intern with the organization for two years prior to working for them full-time. She works with client partners throughout the country in industries such as education, healthcare, manufacturing, hospitality, retail and others to help organizations select top talented individuals into their companies and learn to build a more positive and dynamic culture. This role incorporates sales, marketing, client service, research, consulting and presentation skills.

Nicole Lopez (B.A. 2012) Since graduating from UNL, Nicole Lopez has gotten engaged to a fellow UNL Alum, Michael Bettendorf! “We both graduated in 2012 and have been planning our wedding for a few months. The happy nuptials will happen in May of 2014!”

Tiffany R. Wang (Ph.D. 2012) contributed a Translating Research into Instructional Practice essay to the NCA Virtual Faculty Lounge in July 2013 and co-authored an article with colleagues at Illinois State, TCU, and UNL: Metts, S., Braithwaite, D. O., Schrodt, P., Wang, T. R., Holman, A. J., Nuru, A. K., & Stephenson Abetz, J. (2013). An exploratory study of experience and expression of emotions of stepchildren at critical events in stepfamily life. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage. Tiffany was also appointed Newsletter Editor for CSCA and Chapter Advisor for University of Montevallo’s Lambda Pi Eta Lambda Nu Chapter.

Tiffany’s dissertation entitled "Formational Relational Turning Points In The Transition To College: Understanding How Communication Events Shape First-Generation Students’ Relationships With Their College Teachers" was awarded the 2014 International Communication Association Instructional and Developmental Communication Division Outstanding Dissertation Award. Tiffany published an article from her dissertation (Advisor: Dr. Bill Seiler): Wang, T. R. (2014). Formational Turning Points In The Transition To College: Understanding How Communication Events Shape First-Generation Students’ Pedagogical And Interpersonal Relationships With Their College Teachers. Communication Education. Tiffany was awarded a $2000 University of Montevallo ILlUMinate Grant to purchase iPads to promote COMS 101 Foundations of Oral Communication students' information literacy skills.

Dusty Stanczyk (B.A., 2010) Since graduating from UNL, Dusty was engaged and married to Erin! They are currently settling into their first home and looking to buy a dog! Since graduation Dusty has been, for the most part, working for himself. He’s always had a very entrepreneurial spirit; and, as a result, has done a number of different things on his own. His focus and passion lies in the realm of home renovation and contracting work. He’s done landscaping, remodeling, and even some event management. Dusty and Erin also manage a wedding and event property and really enjoy that! Dusty’s Comm Studies degree prepared him for everyday interactions with clients, bankers, other subcontractors, and especially his family! Comm Studies rocks!

Fall 2013

Diane Breahears (Ph.D. 2011) and Dr. Dawn O. Braithwaite were interviewed by the Lincoln Journal Star for their study on lesbian and gay parents coming out to their children. http://journalstar.com/news/local/telling-your-kids-you-re-fay-how-children-deal-with/article_fa8e97c9-770a-548b-ae44-74e976854037.html.

Audrey Fox (B.A. 2013) works works as an Analyst, Client Service and Developmental Specialist for HUMANeX VENTURES. Audrey was an intern with the organization for two years prior to working for them full-time. She works with client partners throughout the country in industries such as education, healthcare, manufacturing, hospitality, retail and others to help organizations select top talented individuals into their companies and learn how to build a more positive and dynamic culture. This role incorporates sales, marketing, client service, research, consulting and presentation skills.

Nicole Lopez (B.A. 2012) Since graduating from UNL, Nicole Lopez has gotten engaged to a fellow UNL Alum, Michael Bettendorf! “We both graduated in 2012 and have been planning our wedding for a few months. The happy nuptials will happen in May of 2014!”

Tiffany R. Wang (Ph.D. 2012) contributed a Translating Research into Instructional Practice essay to the NCA Virtual Faculty Lounge in July 2013 and co-authored an article with colleagues at Illinois State, TCU, and UNL: Metts, S., Braithwaite, D. O., Schrodt, P., Wang, T. R., Holman, A. J., Nuru, A. K., & Stephenson Abetz, J. (2013). An exploratory study of experience and expression of emotions of stepchildren at critical events in stepfamily life. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 54, 414-437. doi:10.1080/10502556.2013.800400. Tiffany was also appointed Newsletter Editor for CSCA and Chapter Advisor for University of Montevallo’s Lambda Pi Eta Lambda Nu Chapter.

Rebecca DiVerniero (Ph.D. 2010) Assistant Professor, Dixie State College, will be awarded The National States Advisory Council (NSAC) Scholar of the Year Award for 2013 to be presented at the NCA Conference in 2013 for her article “A Turning Point Analysis of Stepchildren’s Communication with their Nonresidential Parents’ Family,” which appeared in volume 44 (Fall 2012) of the Iowa Journal of Communication.

Jessica Rick (B.A. 2010) started the Ph.D. program at the University of Missouri in the fall of 2013 in Organizational Communication.

Michelle M Maresh-Fuehrer (Ph.D. 2009) published her first book, Creating Organizational Crisis Plans, Kendall Hunt Publishers. Articles from the book were featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Bulldog Reporter’s Daily Dog PR Trade Journal and in the Corpus Christi Caller–Times newspaper. Her paper was accepted for presentation at the National Communication Association Convention in Washington, D.C.: “Connecting Academics and Practice: Using experiential learning in Crisis Communication Education.” Michelle conducted a scholar-to-scholar session on “Increasing Student Retention with experiential learning” at the Texas Speech Communication Association Convention in Corpus Christi, Texas. She also received the Texas A & M University-Corpus Christi ELITE Outstanding Faculty Member Award and was nominated to be the Faculty speaker at the First-Year Islanders Convocation. Michelle was selected by the University President to attend breakfast with the Texas A & M University System Chancellor and Board Regents in College Station, Texas, and was appointed Rotary International District. 5930 Rotary Awareness Committee Chair.

Blair Thompson (Ph.D. 2007) Received an internal grant to conduct research with K-12 school districts across the state of Kentucky to learn about their challenges and strategies related to communication during and after school crises. Dr. Thompson and his research team will also visit schools nationally that have experienced school shootings within their districts. This first stage of the project is aimed at developing support for a larger external NSF grant proposal with the Cyber Security Division. The research team is hoping to expand their research and develop training and curriculum that can be used nationally both in the university setting and individual school districts.

Karla Mason Bergen (Ph. D. 2006) Received Extended Contract and Promotion to Associate Professor, March 2013. Karla was appointed Director of General Education, Fall 2013. She also became the grandmother of twin boys, Jax and Jase Bergen, born 12-26-13 to her son, Michael (UNL grad, Ag Sciences, '06) and his wife, Kelsey, of Henderson, Nebraska.

Mark Zmarzly (2005) Founder & CEO, recently launched a new startup called Hip Pocket. Hip Pocket is the easiest way for consumers to gain context and confidence in their financial products. More information is available at www.YourHipPocket.com.

Matt Davis (2004) will be receiving the National Communication Association’s Oberle Award for outstanding teaching Grades K-12. Matt teaches and coaches the Speech & Debate Team at Lincoln East High School.

 Wes Durham (Ph.D., 2004) has accepted the position of Director of Graduate Studies at the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville.

 Dr. Shawn T. Wahl (Ph.D. 2003) Lead article in Communication Education, Wahl, S.T. (with Simmons, J., Lowry-Hart, R., McBride, M.C. (2013). Understanding the African-American student experience in higher education through a relational dialectics perspective. Communication Education.

Rob Patterson (Ph.D. 1997) Worked with Junior State of America's (JSA) program at the University of Virginia this summer, lecturing on great historical speeches by Frederick Douglass and FDR's "Stab in the Back" speech given at UVA in June, 1940. Rob served as JSA's official sponsor this year and delivered the program's commencement address in the Dome Room of the Rotunda in August. JSA operates programs in content areas such as communication, media, history, and government at summer programs at Princeton, Georgetown, Stanford, and UVA.

Donna Pawlowski (Ph. D. 1995) Recently accepted an Associate Professor position with Bemidji State University in Bemidji, Minnesota, where she will be working with curriculum development and assessment to enhance the Speech Communication offerings across the campus. She loved her 19 years at Creighton University and will always have fond memories of her colleagues and students; however, she is excited for this new opportunity at BSU, as it embraces the same student-centeredness while allowing her to continue professionally, and be closer to family.

Spring 2013

Kristen Carr (Ph.D., 2012) has accepted an Assistant Professor position at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX.

Haley Kranstuber Horstman (Ph.D., 2013). Haley got married this summer (May 2012) in Lincoln and became Haley Kranstuber Horstman. She is also pleased to announce that she accepted a job as an Assistant Professor at the University of Missouri for Fall 2013.

Kerk F. Kee (2000) recently published 2 articles: Kee, K. F., Sparks, L., Struppa, D. C., & Mannucci, M. (2013). Social groups, social media, and higher dimensional social structures: Towards a simplicial model of social aggregation for computational communication research. Communication Quarterly, 61(1), 35-58. Rakovski, C., Sparks, L., Robinson, J. D., Kee, K. F., Bevan, J. L., & Agne, R. (2012). A regression-based study using jackknife replicates of HINTS III data: Predictors of the efficacy of health information seeking. Journal of Communication In Healthcare, 5(3), 163-170.

Dr. Beth Ribarsky (Ph.D., 2009) will take over as Chair of the Communication Education Division at CSCA.

Sarah Steimel (Ph.D., 2011) assistant professor at Weber State University has been named the Engaged Learning Series coordinator in the Community Involvement Center. In this role, she will help develop an annual campus-wide theme and corresponding events, speakers and exhibits that provide relevant engaged learning opportunities for students in all academic colleges and all departments in Student Affairs. The theme will revolve around a public concern that the university will help to implement to improve the issue over time.

David Supp-Montgomerie (formerly David Montgomerie) (Masters, 2007) will begin teaching Rhetoric and Humanities at Quest University Canada in the Fall.

Tiffany R. Wang (Ph.D., 2012) was recently awarded a $2000 University of Montevallo Faculty Development & Collaboration course development grant for the redesign of her department's general education course COMS 101 Foundations of Oral Communication. This course development grant is intended to stimulate the redesign of existing courses through the implementation of innovative approaches to general education. She was also elected NCA Instructional Development Division Secretary and NCA Basic Course Division Vice Chair Elect last November.

Blair Thompson (Ph.D., 2007) received tenure at Western Kentucky University. My colleagues and I at Western Kentucky are developing an App tentatively titled, Communication Theory: The Inter-active Experience. The App which is being pilot tested in Fall 2013 will be launched for use by those teaching Introduction to Communication and Communication Theory courses at the undergraduate level in the Spring of 2014. The App, which is web interactive (meaning it will be accessible from any device where a student can access the Internet including phones, ipads, laptops, desktops etc), will contain a full length textbook, interactive activities built into the chapters, and PowerPoints. Faculty adopting the App for their classes will be able to customize the App for their individual courses, and it can be updated on a semesterly basis to include individualized content. We are very excited for people to "experience" how this digital technology will enable faculty and students to engage in theory in unique ways that are more difficult to accomplish with the traditional textbook format.

Tom Workman (Ph.D., 2001). Principal Communication Researcher and Evaluator for the Health Program for the American Institutes for Research in Washington, DC, is the lead author on a new article coming out in the Journal of Comparative Effectiveness Research, “Unresolved tensions in consumer engagement in CER: A US research perspective.” Their new Center for Patient and Consumer Engagement also launched in February and Tom is the Managing Director.

Fall 2012

On June 25, Tom Workman began a new position as Principal Communication Researcher and Evaluator at the American Institutes for Research (AIR) in Washington D.C. The position involves coordinating and guiding formative and evaluative research related to communication efforts for AIR’s many grants and contracts in the Health Communication/Social Marketing and Health Policy areas. Tom will also be actively involved in the preparation of future project proposals and grant submissions, and the publication of findings in various academic and trade journals.

Spring 2012

Paul Bauer (B.A., 2011): Recruiter for Aureus Medical Group.

Eva Gautam (B.A., 2011): I am a Customer Relations Representative in the Customer Relations/Rapid Rewards Department of Southwest Airlines.

Angela M. Hosek(Ph.D., 2011): Doctoral degree earned August 2011. Daughter Lillie Marie turned one in August. Coauthored research appearing in Communication Education and Communication Quarterly.

Michelle M.Maresh (Ph.D.,2009): Received Young Alumnus Award, Texas A&M University

Corpus Christi, 2012; College Distinguished Alumnus Award –Liberal Arts, Texas A&M

University-Corpus Christi, 2012; and Corpus Christi Under 40 Award, Corpus Christi Under 40/Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce Foundation, 2011. Was elected to serve as a member of the Board of Directors for the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi National Alumni Association; was re-elected to the position of Board Secretary for the Southside Corpus Christi Rotary Club; served as Interim Treasurer for the Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education (TAMU CC Chapter); and received instructor certification for Zumba Fitness.

Marcus Powers (J.D., 2008; B.A., 2005): After spending four years as an Assistant Attorney General working in water and natural resources law, I began on February 1, 2011 as the Chief of Operations and Head Brewer at Zipline Brewing Company in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Cassandra Seagren (B.A., 2007): After interning and working for the Nebraska Department of Economic Development for 4.5 years, I accepted the Executive Director position with York County Development Corporation in York, Nebraska, in October 2010. Since that time I have completed the University of Oklahoma's Economic Development Institute which is 120 hours of extensive economic development training and will sit for my Certified Economic Developer (CED) designation in September in Houston at the International Economic Development Council's Annual Meeting.

Adam C. Jones (Ph.D., 2007):  Adam is an Associate Professor and Director of the Speech Communication Center in the Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies at Illinois College. He currently lives with his wife, Kristy, and daughter, Abby, in a small community outside of Jacksonville, Illinois.

Graduate Alumni Student Updates

Diana Breshears (Ph.D.2011) has been awarded a competitive post-doc at the University of Pretoria (South Africa) Department of Educational Psychology; won the Family Communication Division’s Petronio Dissertation Award to be given at the Orlanado NCA meeting.

Lisa Schreiber (in press): Social constructivist teaching strategies in the small group classroom.  Small Group Research.  Expected publication date of Spring 2013.

Schreiber, L., (Ph.D., 2002): Paul, G. & Shibley, L. R. (2012). The development and test of the Public Speaking Competence Rubric. Communication Education, 61 (3), 205 – 233. Project Director for an open source website: The Public Speaking Project (www.publicspeakingproject.org) which features a free online public speaking textbook and other resources for faculty and students.

Royal Rarick (B. A., 2005): Organizational Surveys & Insights Consultant for Towers Watson in Chicago.

Mark Zmarzly (Masters, 2005, B.A., 1998): April keynote speaker at the J.D. Power & Associates Financial Services Social Media Roundtable in New York; promoted to Senior Vice President of Financial Services at ACTON Marketing in Lincoln, NE as well as reappointed to the American Bankers Association Bank Marketing Conference Advisory Board.

Leah (Cooksley) Peterson (B.A., 2001): Published children's book titled An Apple for Dapple; can be found on Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com; available for book readings/signings in Nebraska: www.facebook.com/dapplesadventures.

Travis Bartosh (Masters, 2010): Pursuing Ph.D. in spring of 2013 at the University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand.

Loreen N. Olson (Ph.D., 2000): Faculty member at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro; new book just out in 2012: Olson, L. N., Baoicchi-Wagner, E., Wilson Kratzer, J., & Symonds, S. (2012).  The dark side of family communication.  Polity Press.; became Editor of the Journal of Family Communication.

Cynthia L. Robinson (Ph.D., 2005): Tenured at UNO's School of Communication (May 2012); 2011-2012  Interim Chair of the Department of Black Studies.

Paige W. Toller (Ph.D., 2006): Tenured at the University of Nebraska-Omaha in Spring 2012.

Jessica Henry (Ph.D., 2003): Teaching at Hastings College; recently appointed Chair of the Department of Communication Studies. 

Elizabeth Ribarsky (Ph.D., 2009): Won the Lambda Pi Eta Rookie Advisor of the Year from the National Communication Association in November 2011.

Michelle M. Maresh-Fuehrer (Ph.D., 2009): Married May 26, 2012; received the Texas A&M System Student Recognition Award for Teaching Excellence Spring 2011, Fall 2011 and Spring 2012; received the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi 2012 Young Alumnus Award; received the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi 2012 College of Liberal Arts Distinguished Alumnus Award; Received the Corpus Christi Under 40 Award; authored two chapters ("Public relations and persuasive campaigns" and "New media, new persuasion") in S. T. Wahl's  textbook Persuasion in Your Life (2012); re-elected Board Secretary of the Southside Corpus Christi Rotary Club; elected to the Board of Directors for the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi National Alumni Association.

Aimee (Miller) Ott (Ph.D., 2007): Aimee (Miller) Ott and her husband, Chris, welcomed their first child, Brandon, on July 22, 2012.

Brittany Hunt (B.A., 2012): Graduate student in the Department of Educational Administration Higher Education.

Tiffany R. Wang (Ph.D., 2012): Tiffany defended her dissertation (Advisor: Dr. Bill Seiler) and graduated from UNL in May 2012. She is now Assistant Professor of Communication Studies in the Department of Communication at the University of Montevallo in Alabama; 2012 recipient of the International Communication Association’s Instructional and Developmental  Communication Division GTA Award; has a forthcoming piece in Communication Education.

Wang, T. R. (2012). Understanding the memorable messages first-generation college students receive from on-campus mentors. Communication Education, 61, 335-357. doi:10.1080/03634523.2012.691978

Meredith Harrigan (Ph.D., 2006): Along with fellow Alumna, Aimee Miller-Ott, Meredith had a paper titled "The Multivocality of Meaning Making: An Exploration of the Discourses College Aged Daughters Voice in Talk About Their Mothers" accepted for publication by the Journal of Family Communication; granted a continuing appointment and promoted to Associate Professor at the State University of New York at Geneseo.

Shawn T Wahl (Ph.D., 2003): Department Head and Professor of Communication at Missouri State University.   Shawn has also published two new textbooks--The Communication Age: Connecting and Engaging (Sage) and Persuasion In Your Life (Pearson).

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