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January Student of the Month

Posted on January 22, 2015 6:57 am by dlleeder

student Alyssa FeaMeet Alyssa Fea, Humanities and Social Sciences Student of the Month

Hometown: Lincolnton, NC

Class: Senior

Major: Communication

Minor: Nonprofit Studies

Sample Courses:

  • Public Relations Campaigns
  • Nonprofit Leadership
  • Media Writing


  • Public Relations Intern, American Red Cross of Raleigh, Spring 2015
  • Resident Mentor, STATE Village (Living Learning Village for second year and transfer students), NC State Housing, 2014-15
  • Marketing Coordinator, InSiteful Imagery, Charlotte, NC, May 2014-present
  • Co-authored scholarly article (in press) with Dr. Lynsey Romo: “You Never Know What’s Gonna Happen: An Examination of Communication Strategies used by College Student-Athletes to Manage Uncertainty,” Communication and Sport.
  • Blog manager and member, Public Relations Student Society of America


Lambda Pi Eta, Communication Honors Society

Postgraduate Plans:

I intend to graduate in December 2015, and apply for the Masters in Creative Brand Management at Virginia Commonwealth University.

What do you enjoy most about Humanities and Social Sciences?

I spent three semesters as a Fashion and Textile Management major, and then took a year off from school to work and carefully think through my college experience and career goals. I returned to NC State as a Humanities and Social Sciences student seeking a future in an advertising-related profession. This college not only educates you, but helps you to prepare for the job search, emphasizing networking and creating your “professional self.” It allows you to see where you want to go, whereas students in other colleges can be more narrowly focused on facts, passing classes, and the “here and now.”

What are some of your favorite Humanities and Social Sciences courses?

Principles of News Article Writing with Professor Dick Reavis taught me how to write well, refine sentence structure – things that will be of great benefit as I continue in public relations. Public Relations Writing with Dean Phillips helped me to think critically. Class assignments covered topics that I came across in my internship, so I could see their usefulness immediately. As an advisor, Sandy Stallings offered me realistic perspectives and made me feel she cared about me as an individual.

How did your research support your academic experiences?

Researching with Dr. Lynsey Romo was wonderful! What impacted me the most from working with her was her leadership style and work ethic. She was always very friendly and approachable, while maintaining clarity and efficiency. She taught me a lot about how to be thorough during the research process. I had a perfect example of a researcher who was incredibly driven and creative within her work.

What advice would you give incoming students?

Know that there is going to be a transition from high school to college. I had to really learn what was important to know in a class, how to study correctly, how to manage test anxiety, and how much effort you have to put in to be successful. When you receive your syllabi at the beginning of the semester, write down every single reading and assignment to be done, and make sure to complete every one. At the end of the semester, you will then feel like you truly understood the course and got a lot out of it.

Take a Virtual Front Pew Seat to Hear MLK's "Fill Up the Jails"

Posted on January 9, 2015 6:14 am by Lauren Kirkpatrick

virtual MLK imageOn February 16, 1960, Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his first public endorsement of non-violent direct action as a means to achieve civil and human rights. Fifty years later, NC State University’s Virtual Martin Luther King Jr. Project has launched a website that includes a digital audio re-creation that puts listeners in the pews to hear the widely influential "Fill Up the Jails" speech.

King’s speech, “A Creative Protest,” encouraged young people to “fill up the jails” in acts of civil disobedience in solidarity with the Woolworth sit-ins that began two weeks earlier in Greensboro. It was the first time King openly encouraged activists to disrupt and break the law through non-violent confrontation. “If the officials threaten to arrest us for standing up for our rights, we must answer by saying that we are willing and prepared to fill up the jails of the South. Maybe it will take this willingness to stay in jail to arouse the dozing conscience of our nation,” King said.

"North Carolina has been the location of many historic moments that impacted the country, including the sit-ins in Greensboro, the founding of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Commitee (SNCC), and more recent political action such as the Moral Monday protests," says Victoria Gallagher, NC State professor of communication and principal investigator of the research project. "The digital audio re-creation is a timely demonstration of social action where the community can experience the eloquence and force of King’s oratory and its enduring applicability for creative action through civil disobedience."

Nationally recognized voice actor Marvin Blanks, known as the “orator of the century,” re-enacted the speech earlier this year at White Rock Baptist Church in Durham, NC, the original location of the speech. He performed the speech before an audience of more than 200 people. Project developers used he recording to create an immersive audio experience that places audiences in the pews. In addition to an audio model of the catalytic speech, the virtual MLK website offers the public a multimedia archive and resources for students and educators. The project’s larger effort is to develop a 3-D immersive, architectural model of the speech environment and an online environment for studying and experiencing the speech.

Dr. Lynsey K. Romo

Posted on December 19, 2014 12:39 pm by Joan Alford

Dr. Lynsey Romo

Dr. Lynsey K. Romo

Building upon six years of real-world communication experience, Dr. Lynsey K. Romo uses her work as an interpersonal and health communication scholar to improve health and economic conditions for low-income individuals. Her socially meaningful research examines how people communicate about uncomfortable issues specifically pertaining to health and finances.

Dr. Romo largely explores how communication can affect people’s health decisions. She studies how families can encourage one another to engage in healthy weight management behaviors (for example, healthy eating or exercise) and the effects families have on one another’s weight management. She has also examined how people who engage in healthy deviance (violating norms in healthy ways, a concept which emerged from her research) negotiate communication about these behaviors. Through her research, Dr. Romo has uncovered strategies to encourage and produce healthy behaviors in families as a whole, such as abstaining from alcohol or switching to a vegetarian diet, while maintaining interpersonal relationships.

Dr. Romo is also at the forefront of interpersonal financial communication scholarship. Her focus on finances, together with health, is united by its examination of the uncertainty involved in managing one’s physical, social, or economic well-being while negotiating disclosure and/or multiple goals.

Discussing money issues is a fundamental communication practice, but strong academic research is lacking. Dr. Romo is working to fill the gap. She has interviewed parents and children about what motivates disclosure of financial information and uncovered what financial information children are learning. She has also examined the ways in which married or cohabitating adults negotiate financial uncertainty in the wake of recessions. Dr. Romo seeks to illuminate practical communication tools for managing finances and relationships.

Dr. Romo is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at N.C. State University. She has published numerous peer-reviewed journal articles aimed at helping people improve their lives and relationships through communication. Visit her faculty page for a list of publications.

Semester in Spain Challenges, Inspires Undergrad

Posted on December 12, 2014 2:18 pm by dlleeder

student Megan Hornbeck twoStudying abroad allows students to apply their learning to the real world, as they gain first-hand experience with other cultures, languages, traditions and people. It also teaches students a lot about themselves as they navigate new, unfamiliar environments.  This Q&A highlights how Humanities and Social Sciences students have incorporated study abroad into their undergraduate career.

Megan Hornbeck is a senior double majoring in Communication Media and Spanish Languages and Literatures. Her study abroad in Spain enhanced her cultural awareness, challenged her to navigate a new environment, and shaped her future goals.

Who sparked your interest in study abroad?

My high school Spanish teacher is the first person who mentioned studying abroad. I was very interested in the cultural aspects of her lectures, so one day she pulled me aside and told me about the opportunity. Ever since then, I made it my goal to study abroad in college.

Briefly describe your experience.

 I studied abroad in Santander, Spain, during Spring 2013. I took 15 credit hours of Spanish classes at La Universidad de Cantabria, helping me to complete my minor. I lived with a host family that included a mom, grandma and two brothers. Living with a host family is beneficial because you experience authentic traditions and culture that you wouldn't get if you lived in your own apartment. While I was abroad, I worked with an elementary school and taught English classes every other week. It was a great way for me to be an ambassador for America, practice Spanish, and connect with children to become passionate about learning English.

How do you feel the study abroad related to your major, career goals, and personal interests?  

I am a communication major, so interacting with people is something I love. It was a challenge to live in a small community where nobody spoke English, but it highlighted the importance of nonverbal communication. For the first couple of weeks, hand motions and facial expressions were my specialty! When I returned from Spain, I added Spanish as a double major. This was not my intention before I went abroad, so you can say that studying abroad made a huge impact on my future. During Fall 2013, I continued my ambassadorial role in America and started working with NC State's Intensive English Program. I taught an American Culture class once a week to international students in the program. Now I am a part-time employee and intern with IEP, learning a lot about ESL programs and international relations. Studying abroad also made me catch the travel bug: as of October, I am a Fulbright Scholar applicant to teach English in Ecuador for 10 months. I won't hear back from the program until April, but for now, I think it is safe to say that studying abroad was the stepping stone to this decision.

What are some things you learned?

I learned that I am capable of being a lot more independent than I realized. I traveled almost every weekend and made my own arrangements in foreign places. I also learned that the Spanish lifestyle might seem lazy to an average American who works from 9-5, but in my opinion, the quality of life is a lot better in Spain. Time spent with family and friends became a priority and it was very hard to return to the American lifestyle. While abroad, I met people from so many different countries and it shocked me when they knew two or three languages and had studied abroad multiple times already by the age of 22. I feel that is an aspect of American education that could be improved. If students learned one more language or visited one more country, they would be a lot more culturally aware and open minded.

What were some of the challenges?

The language barrier between my host family and me was pretty difficult to overcome, especially when I didn't feel well and needed medicine. But looking back on the experience, my greatest challenge was the culture shock upon my return to the United States. Everyone was in a rush, and I really missed the friends and family that I met abroad.

What were some of the rewards?

I use my experience abroad in job interviews and applications. It is very rewarding to realize that the time I spent abroad is appreciated in the work world. I am more understanding of people from different cultures, and my patience with people has improved dramatically. I also now have very close friends in many different countries, and it is great to think that I have somewhere to live and someone to travel with when I go abroad again.

Seeking Global Strategic Partners: Travels to Uganda

Posted on November 24, 2014 7:22 am by Lauren Kirkpatrick

Left to right: Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maamma Watali founder, Derek Aday, Minster of Education, Second Deputy of the Bugandan Kingdom, Jeff Braden, Minister of Lands and Agriculture (back), Minister of Tourism (front), James Kiwanuka-Tondo. Photo taken in front of the Bugandan Parliment building.

Left to right: Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maamma Watali founder, Derek Aday, Minster of Education, Second Deputy of the Bugandan Kingdom, Jeff Braden, Minister of Lands and Agriculture (back), Minister of Tourism (front), James Kiwanuka-Tondo. Photo taken in front of the Bugandan Parliment building.

This blog post was written by NC State Humanities and Social Sciences Dean Jeff Braden:

NC State seeks out strategic partners around the globe. That quest took me to Uganda recently, where I led a university delegation to explore the potential for partnerships between Makarere University, the Kingdom of Buganda, The Aids Support Organization (TASO), and the Maamma Watali Project. My goal was to assess the resources, capabilities and needs of our potential partners in order to advise the Office of International Affairs on whether or how to proceed in developing partnerships and, if appropriate, to document them through Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs).

NC State does not lack for global partners. Our university has hundreds of MOUs with various entities around the globe. However, one of our provost’s goals is to develop strategic partnerships—meaning fewer relationships that serve a small number of faculty and students, and instead have much deeper and richer partnerships that serve a wide range of disciplines and interests on our campus. While fewer, richer partnerships make sense for administrative reasons, they are also more likely to foster the key strategic goal of developing interdisciplinary scholarship and research to address the world’s challenges. In other words, rather than have paper and wood scientists going to one set of universities in Africa, while crop scientists and textile colleagues go to other institutions, and humanities and social sciences students and faculty heading for yet other institutions –each pursuing their own disciplinary goals – we should instead bring a range of disciplines together to address grand challenges in partnership. Doing so will reduce administrative complexity while increasing interdisciplinary collaboration.

Of course, the trick is to find institutions and settings that provide rich options for a wide range of campus disciplines and constituencies. Hence, the reason for my visit. From a distance, the matchup with Makarere University looked promising. MU has just about all of the disciplines we do at NC State, and most are organized in similar administrative units: for example, they also have colleges of humanities and social sciences, veterinary medicine, and natural resources. MU is also the oldest and most prestigious university in Uganda, and arguably in East Africa, a region that is important for geopolitical, agricultural, and other reasons. Furthermore, NC State claims a few MU alumni among its faculty; one alumnus, James Kiwanuka-Tondo, associate professor of communication, was part of our delegation, and was instrumental in initiating the contact. The other member of our delegation was Derek Aday, professor of applied ecology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

We met with MU’s vice chancellor (in universities following the British system, the vice chancellor functions as our chancellor does at NC State) as well as individual professors. Our goal was to look for places where their faculty, student and infrastructure capacity either matched or complemented our own. Over two days of meetings, we asked about and searched for common interests and capacity. As NC State’s emissary, I inquired about companion animal vs. large animal vet practices in Uganda, whether they had nuclear engineering and data analytics, and what they did in fashion and architecture. In nearly all cases, they were interested, although they often had more interest than capacity.

I found great potential for non-university partnerships as well. The Maamma Watali (literally, “in the absence of mothers”) project, founded by a woman whose mother and two sisters died in the ravages of war and HIV/AIDS that swept Uganda’s Loweero district from the late 1970s through the mid-2000s, showed possibilities for combining disciplines as diverse as HIV/AIDS communication (James Kiwanuka-Tondo’s speciality), oral history, water resource management, micro-lending and sustainable organic farming areas. The needs of the area are great, and the promise of a comprehensive site where we could coordinate study abroad, service learning, research and scholarship was truly exciting.

Which brings me to the highlight of the trip—a meeting with ministers of foreign affairs, agriculture, tourism, land, education and the second deputy for Buganda at the Bugandan Parliament. The primary point of discussion was to secure a gift of land from the kingdom to build facilities to house visiting scholars and students, provide preventive and primary health care, a civic meeting area, and a library to house books we have already given—and perhaps more importantly, the HIV/AIDS communication materials and the oral histories of the elders of the region we hope to create. All agreed that a grant of 15-20 acres for initial investment and development was the best place to start, and could be followed by additional grants for land appropriate to specific projects (e.g., aqua culture would require different land configuration than a community chicken coop).

Although I was buoyed by the content of the discussion, what struck me most was that the meeting opened and closed with all in attendance (at least, those who knew the words in Bugandan!) singing together. It was quite striking and moving to see the group do so without a whiff of self-consciousness. I could only imagine what would happen if we sang “Where the Winds of Dixie Softly Blow” at the beginning and end of each of our meetings.

Our delegation concluded the trip with visits to such historic and cultural sites as the source of the Nile River and the colonial capitol of Entebbe. As we shared dinner before heading home, one of the grand challenges impacting Uganda made itself evident. Two years earlier, Derek and James had eaten at the same restaurant on the beach of Lake Victoria—but the water level of the lake had completely covered where they had been seated. The increased rise in the level of Lake Victoria threatens communities, habitat and more. The case for collaboration could not have been more compelling.