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Alum's Think and Do Response To Children's Cancer

Posted on March 2, 2015 6:44 am by Lauren Kirkpatrick

Jessica Ekstrom (Communication '13) founded Headbands of Hope while she was a student at NC State.

Jessica Ekstrom (Communication '13) founded Headbands of Hope while she was a student at NC State.

Jessica Ekstrom graduated in 2013 with a degree in communication -- and a fully-fledged business she created to support children with cancer. “Preparing to launch Headbands of Hope at NC State taught me responsible thinking and the importance of taking action,” she says. “My learning wasn’t limited to the classroom.”

During a student internship with the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Ekstrom noticed that young girls who lost their hair from chemotherapy treatments did not like to wear wigs. But they still wanted a way to express their feminine identities. Ekstrom settled on headbands, and came up with a compelling business model: for every headband sold, one is donated to a girl who has lost her hair and one dollar is given to cancer research.

Ekstrom and her team have delivered headbands to more than 300 hospitals in the United States and internationally. The company has sold 35,000 headbands and donated $35,000 to charity.

This inspiring entrepreneur embodies the NC State Think and Do approach to addressing challenges -- including those faced by little girls with cancer.

This article is adapted from a recent post  in the NC State Alumni Association's Red and White for Life blog. Ekstrom gave the 2013 NC State student commencement speech


Re-creating ‘A Creative Protest’

Posted on February 27, 2015 7:11 am by Lauren Kirkpatrick

vMLK digital-humanities

The Virtual MLK Project will allow modern audiences to experience history at NC State's Hunt Library.

Fifty-five years ago, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made a historic appeal.

Two weeks after black college students began conducting nonviolent sit-ins to protest segregation at the Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, King stood at the altar of a church in Durham and called for “a creative protest.” For the first time, he urged African-Americans to commit nonviolent civil disobedience, encouraging them to break unjust laws in pursuit of equality.

“Let us not fear going to jail,” he said at White Rock Baptist Church on Feb. 16, 1960. “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.”

“This speech is the first time King calls for nonviolent direct action,” says Victoria Gallagher, professor of communication in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

King’s sermon has been at risk of being lost to history. No recording of it exists, and the church itself was bulldozed in the late 1960s to make way for the Durham Freeway. Gallagher and a group of colleagues in the digital humanities launched the Virtual MLK project to resurrect the speech, giving modern listeners a chance to hear King’s words as 1,200 people heard the original address in 1960.

The project has three phases, Gallagher said at an exhibition Feb. 23 at the Hunt Library. The first was a recreation of the sermon last summer, with voice actor Marvin Blanks delivering King’s words at the rebuilt White Rock Baptist Church. Nearly 250 people attended the June 2014 event, including some who had heard the original sermon in 1960.

Gallagher and her team captured Blanks’ reading to feed the second phase of the project: a multimedia website combining archival photos with pictures, audio and video from the June 2014 recreation. The team placed microphones throughout the church to gather sound from several perspectives: just in front of the altar, deep in the church balcony and in the middle of the congregation.

In phase three, the sermon will come to life in a digital recreation incorporating the June 2014 sound and video, as well as three-dimensional renderings of the interior of the original White Rock Baptist Church sanctuary. The model for Gallagher’s vision is colleague John Wall’s reconstruction of a 17th-century John Donne sermon, which has been nominated for a Digital Humanities Award.

Once the Virtual MLK Project is finished, listeners will be able to stand in an architecturally accurate digital recreation of the old White Rock Baptist Church. They’ll be immersed in King’s speech, hearing it just as a child in the church balcony or an elderly woman in the front row did.

Interdisciplinary research projects such as Gallagher’s, Wall’s and a new effort to recreate Queen Victoria’s Buckingham Palace garden put NC State at the forefront of the digital humanities. They bring together faculty and students from English, architecture and computer science to recreate lost times and places, using cutting-edge technology and experiential education to enhance our understanding of history.

by Jimmy Ryals. This article first appeared at ncsu.edu.


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

Activities:

  • 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

Honors:

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.