September 2022 Alumni Newsletter

Note from the Chair

“And all at once, summer collapsed into fall.”

–Oscar Wilde

Dear Communication alumni and friends,

With Fall now in full swing, the Department of Communication is buzzing with activity as students, faculty, and staff begin their work together in a new academic year. This Fall, we welcomed our newest faculty colleague, Dr. Timeka Tounsel, our newest staff member, operations specialist Madison Morgan, and a cohort of truly talented graduate students who join our community of scholars.

This is a time of re-connection and reinvestment, as we reflect on the changes of the last couple of years, and think together about how we want to re-enter campus life after a long period of remote and hybrid learning and collaboration. This year, we are delighted to relaunch some of our favorite student experiences which were paused during the pandemic–experiences such as Career Exploration trips to LA and New York, our international journalism scholarships, and our study abroad opportunities in Rome and León, Spain. We are also looking forward to returning to meaningful opportunities to connect with our alumni, such as our Hall of Fame and Alumni of Distinction event and our annual Scheidel Lecture.

This year we will have many compelling speakers, initiatives, and student stories to share with you. Please read on to learn about some of the exciting things happening in and around UW Communication this Fall, such as the expansion of the Center for Speech and Debate, a new internship opportunity for UW students in Spain, and more.

Here’s to an Autumn season filled with rekindling old connections and fostering new ones. We continue to be deeply grateful for your interest in what we do here in the Department of Communication. I hope these updates help you to feel connected to this community, of which each of you is a vital member. 


Christine Harold

Professor and Chair

UW Com’s Center for Speech and Debate expands

In 2006, the Department of Communication opened the Speaking Center, a space devoted to free one-on-one speech tutoring for the UW community. Before having to temporarily close due to COVID-19, the center offered thousands of appointments annually, resulting in hundreds of hours of extracurricular, one-on-one tutoring. In 2021, the Speaking Center formally changed its name to The Center for Speech & Debate to reflect the increased work on public speaking AND debate activities. Last year, the Center launched its new website, reopened for speech consulting appointments, and offered speech workshops for researchers in the School of Public Health. The Center sponsored and moderated an online debate on Washington state’s long-term health care policy, the Washington Cares Fund. Jessica Gomez Barrios, coalition manager for Washingtonians for a Responsible Future, argued the affirmative, and Elizabeth Hovde of the Washington Policy Center argued the negative. The Center concluded the 2021-22 school year with the Jody Deering Nyquist Speech Contest. UW students submitted speeches in response to the theme, “What lessons should UW learn from the COVID pandemic?” You can see the top speech here.

UW Communication in Spain

Spring Quarter 2022 marked the return of a Communication study abroad program at the UW León Center in Spain. Associate Teaching Professor Andrea Otáñez and Professor Emeritus Randy Beam took 13 students to the center as part of Communication Spain: Exploring Spanish Culture Through Storytelling and Social Inquiry. The 10-week trip coincided with Semana Santa, the Holy Week dedicated to the Catholic Passion of Jesus Christ. Otáñez’s students wrote about the experience — the first Semana Santa processions in León in two years — as part of her COM 464: Writing with Voice class. The linked pieces below by Kayla Pezolano, Nivedita Joshi, and Daniela Lopez are a sample of what the group experienced after witnessing the centuries-old penitente processions — from reflections on religious pasts and spiritual presents, comparisons of three manifestations of the pageantry, perspective shifts from behind the altar, to a heart that finally found rest.   

Communication students will also have the opportunity to gain hands-on professional experience in León, thanks to two emeriti Communication professors, former Provost Gerald Baldasty and Randal Beam, who have launched ¡Spain Works!, a program that gives undergraduates the chance to do quarter-long international internships. The program grew out of the Department’s Communication Spain study abroad program at the UW Center in León. Communication major Paula Thiele, the first intern, worked on the social media team for the mayor’s office in León. Three more interns will travel to León next winter and spring to intern at nonprofit organizations.

Read more about the internship program and Thiele’s experience in UW News, the university’s blog and newsletter. Read some of the essays to come out of the Communication Spain Spring 2022 study abroad:  “Mala beads, a rosary, and little nazarenos” by Kayla Pezolano, “Three Spanish cities during Semana Santa” by Nivedita Joshi, “Finding peace in Semana Santa” by Daniela Lopez, and “Mi corazón sagrado” by Andrea Otáñez. 

Upcoming Events:

We are looking forward to resuming many of our favorite community events in person this Fall, including our Scholarship Awards Ceremony, Alumni Hall of Fame, Alumni Association events, Homecoming, and more!

Alaska Airlines Dawg Dash | October 9, 2022 | 9 a.m.: Save the date for this classic Husky event! Featuring 5K and 10K courses, a Husky Pups Run for the kids, a Post-Dash Bash and more, Alaska Airlines Dawg Dash is a great way to get moving with the pack. Can’t get to Seattle? There’s a virtual version! Registration information can be found here.

Huskies@Work | November 2022: Build a Husky career connection! More than ever, students need connections to help them explore what their career paths could look like after graduation. That’s where our incredible network of UW alumni come in! Huskies@Work is a program run and supported by the UWAA that matches students with alumni volunteers based on their fields, interests, and experiences. Connect online, in person, or by phone — whatever works. Get more information on being an alumni volunteer here. Make sure to apply by Oct. 16, 2022 for conversations in November!

Support UW Communication Programming:

More than ever, the Department of Communication is committed to providing a transformative education. Your support to the Department of Communication Discretionary Fund provides resources to develop and expand programs that are not covered by state funding.  These programs push students to take on challenges, reach beyond themselves, and see the world in new ways.