Theater2Film: Powered by Students

Posted on: August 17, 2017

Imagine audience members forming a line outside the theater, waiting to get in to see the next big movie. Your movie. The one you helped write, film, edit and produce as part of 100-person production as a student. Popcorn is purchased, seats are located and anticipation hangs in the air.

All of this is possible at the College of Communication Arts and Sciences. In addition to a film and media production concentration from the Media and Information Department and minors in fiction filmmaking and documentary production, ComArtSci has a unique opportunity for budding filmmakers: Theater2Film.

The Big Production

T2F TixStay With Me,” debuted at the Traverse City Film Festival this summer. Throughout the entire 2017 spring semester, students were managing budgets, staying on top of production schedules, designing shot compositions, shooting on the weekends and discussing performances with actors (who were also students) among dozens of other tasks - there was an overwhelming amount to do. Luckily, the cast and crew was comprised of nearly 100 students.

“Working with [that many] students on a film is a big undertaking, but it gives you a good picture of what it’s like in the professional world,” said Anna Young ’17, a recent Media and Information graduate and one of the supervising producers of the film. “You have to have great communication skills.”

While Young managed budgetary details and coordinated the overall process, other students like Kim Labick ’17, one of the film’s directors, oversaw the details of the story itself. From pre-production to filming to post-production, she was involved in every step of the film’s creation.

“Being a director for any film is essentially balancing the chaos of the creative side with the organization of the production side,” said Labick, a recent media and information graduate. “It’s definitely hectic and sometimes seems overwhelming, but to me it felt like absolute mental freedom.”

Organized Chaos

Though distributing tasks to a large number of people can ease the workload for some, working with that many individuals can bring new challenges. Media and Information graduate Amy Wagenaar ’17, who was one of the directors of photography, remembers feeling nothing but resilience as the group worked to overcome every obstacle.

T2F Feature

“In the face of constant setbacks and external and internal issues, the students were able to come together to make a feature-length film,” said Wagenaar. “The film community of MSU is a tough crowd. We know how to deal with almost every single setback, because we’ve experienced it firsthand.”

Media and Information sophomore Hannah Byrd dove into her passions as a freshman and became the youngest of the assistant directors for the project. Byrd admitted that finding her passion within the industry wasn’t easy, but she has advice for other budding moviemakers.

Follow your gut feeling as to what you want to pursue and start with that,” said Byrd. “It’s okay if there are some twists and turns and you decide you want to do something different later. If you’re passionate about something, go for it, and if you’re passionate about something different later, that’s fine. At least it’s a path to get there.”

“Stay With Me” was only Theater2Film’s third feature. As the program evolves, there will be plenty of room for future student filmmakers to find their place and their passion in the chaos of it all.

By Kaitlin Dudlets


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Communication Senior Scores Internship at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

Posted on: June 20, 2017

When senior communication student Gabrielle Dolenga accepted an internship with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, she figured her days would consist of sitting in an office, working at her desk. Little did she know, she’d be out in the city of Detroit, making new connections and gaining real-world experience. Gabi Featured Image

Dolenga works as a corporate communication intern. Though she found the internship on LinkedIn, she points to ComArtSci as being especially helpful throughout her job search. 

“ComArtSci has prepared me for this internship in many ways,” said Dolenga. “I used Career Services to improve my resume before submitting my application. The career fair also gave me the opportunity to introduce myself to the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan recruiter after I applied for the position.”

Dolenga notes that her public relations class helped prepare her for all of the writing her internship requires.

“A huge part of my internship is writing for BCBSM's two blogs: A Healthier Michigan and MI Blues Perspectives,” said Dolenga. “ADV 225 definitely prepared me for this writing. In this course, I had to create my own PR campaign based on a topic I was given at the beginning of the semester. Writing and developing a campaign from start to finish prepared me for the many different writing assignments I would have at this internship.

Dolenga also believes that her communication research class has allowed her to succeed in this position.

“Another substantial part of my internship is analyzing BCBSM's social media each week,” said Dolenga. “COM 300 has given me the tools to understand this data on a deeper level and draw better conclusions from the numbers in my weekly report.”

As a communication major and public relations minor, Dolenga loves that she’s been able to gain relevant experience from this internship. She’s been working on multiple projects that have already improved her skills in these fields.

“My favorite thing about this internship has been the opportunity to become more involved in my community while improving my public relations skills,” said Dolenga. “Last week, I took a class at Area45 Fitness in Troy and helped create media surrounding it. This weekend, I wrote talking points and assisted with interviews for the Detroit Riverfront Conservatory's Riverfront Run. Next week, I'll be in Grand Rapids blogging and shooting nutrition segments with WZZM. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has so many different partnerships that I'm excited to work with throughout the summer.”

Gabi Wide Image

If you’re looking for an esteemed internship, Dolenga would advise you to not sell yourself short.

“Apply, apply, apply. I applied to almost 25 internships this winter,” said Dolenga. “Set yourself up for success by giving yourself plenty of opportunities to choose from.”

Dolenga firmly believes that you should look for opportunities everywhere, no matter where you see yourself ending up. Applying to as many internships as possible will give you insight into different workplaces.

“Remember to apply to a variety of different places,” said Dolenga. “Big or small, corporate or agency; you will learn something from everywhere you apply and every place you interview.”

Regardless of what career path you take, if you utilize ComArtSci’s resources, apply yourself in class and look for a handful of internships, you’re sure to find something you love.

By Katie Kochanny

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Junior Gains Presentation Skills and Confidence Through Internship With The Big Ten Network

Posted on: April 27, 2017

After a successful internship reporting on live TV for a local news station in Nantucket, advertising junior Kayla Wright set her sights on the Big Ten Network. She applied for MSU BTN, even though she knew there were an overwhelming number of applicants. She got the interview, was offered the internship and was thrilled to accept it.

Wright was the marketing intern for MSU BTN this past year and helped set up the Big Ten tailgate, assisted with advertising, set up home basketball games and, with the help of another intern, facilitated the Instagram contest at each home basketball game.

“It was all about getting the fans that were coming to the games interested in doing the Instagram contest,” Wright said. “We even got to present our ideas for the contest to the BTN marketing team in Chicago. This required knowing a lot about Big Ten, having confidence and being prepared. It was a great challenge.”

Some of Wright’s ideas included using props for the contest with the hashtag visible on them, so people would remember and use it. She also suggested that the interns go to the games after they run the contest to be more educated on what BTN was covering that day.

Interning for a large company like BTN taught Wright the importance of being professional, being on time and how to be a good employee.

“My presentation skills increased, as well as my social presence,” Wright said. “The internship really helped with my confidence, too, as I was always engaging with a really diverse range of people.”

Wright said the interns would have to be prepared to talk to fans, as well as Fox representatives that would come in. They would have to explain what they were working on. One of the representatives posted a photo of Wright and the other marketing intern doing the Instagram contest on LinkedIn, which was great publicity for the MSU Big Ten Network.

“The internship was a lot of talking to families, fans, alumni and just really trying to learn more about people,” Wright said. “I tried to make everything more personable.”

Wright is also getting a minor in entrepreneurship and innovation.

“I have always been interested in the media industry, but I have many interests,” Wright said. “I have even thought about starting my own business. If I have an idea, I just go for it. I love coming up with new ideas and being innovative, which will hopefully help me in all aspects of this industry.”

By Meg Dedyne

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Sandbox Summer Classes to Provide Creative Outlet for MSU Undergraduates

Posted on: April 18, 2017

If you were that kid in high school carrying a camera around to capture the latest and greatest, designing for yearbook, sketching and drawing, even playing video games - the College of Communication Arts and Sciences has entry-level media and communication classes just for you.

Now, every Michigan State University undergraduate student with a passion for creativity will have a shot at delving deeper into their chosen craft this summer as ComArSci’s Media Sandbox unveils 13 completely online class offerings.

For the first time ever, these creative classes are available to students outside of the college. That means students studying traditionally non-creative topics will get the chance to gain a deeper knowledge of creative skills like photography, videography and design from one of the top communications colleges in the country.

















“The classes will improve your skills beyond what they are now and give you insight into a craft you’ve always loved,” said Karl Gude, director of the Media Sandbox.

Students can take the online classes individually or earn “badges” by taking specific classes together. Acting like a coat of arms for newly developed skillsets, the badges include: The Illustrator, The Gamemaker, The Animator, The Filmmaker, The Web Designer, The Graphic Designer and The Creative. Each badge completed not only provides additional skills but also personal pride points for LinkedIn profiles, resumes, personal websites and more.

About the Media Sandbox
The Media Sandbox is a “creative state of mind,” said Gude. It’s a place where play is work and where “people collect, collaborate and do creative things together.” Students in the program not only benefit from learning and exploring creativity, they also gain knowledge through workshops, field trips, experienced speakers and dedicated faculty.

“I’m excited to spread the word about Sandbox,” Gude told us. “We’re not just a curriculum, we’re a community and we’re growing. There will be lots of events coming up that will be open to all.”

Ready to Enroll in Sandbox Summer Classes?
Media Sandbox is still accepting applicants to these fully online summer classes. Visit the Sandbox Summer Classes website to learn more and apply today.

By Nikki W O'Meara

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Senior obtains internship with Jackson National Life Insurance after working in student role

Posted on: March 10, 2017

After working for two and a half years at the Jackson Zone on Grand River Avenue in East Lansing, advertising senior Mitch Marier is now the corporate social responsibility intern at the Jackson National Life Insurance headquarters in Lansing.

“Shortly after I started working at thePicture1 Jackson Zone, I was assigned more responsibilities,” Marier said. “I started with entering data into their systems and the more comfortable I became, I started doing customer service calls. It was cool to get my hands on a variety of tasks and growing my skills in an area I never thought I would.”

Marier said while he worked at the Zone, he took advantage of their programs such as resume building and networking 101. They would often have leadership chats, where the executives from Jackson would come in and talk more about future career opportunities with their company.

“I definitely think Jackson’s career prep for students helped me tremendously in getting my first internship at the State of Michigan,” Marier said. “I gained experience at this first internship in writing and event planning, which I knew would translate well to the internship I have now with Jackson.”

“Jackson in Action” is Jackson’s internal volunteer team and it has its own email inbox. When people want to sign up for service projects, Marier is their point of contact. He also updates the internal website with content and writes recap stories, then shares them with the rest of the company to share all of the good work Jackson is doing.

Another part of the internship is promoting the volunteer events themselves. Marier’s last project was organizing Jackson volunteers for Impression 5 Science Center’s LEGOPalooza. Marier set up the schedule and was the main contact for Impression 5. Along with large events with local nonprofits, Marier also facilitates volunteering events such as cooking dinners at the Ronald McDonald House of Mid-Michigan or the Mother Theresa House in Lansing.

“I love going to these community events and seeing the people Jackson helps,” Marier said. “It’s amazing to actually see the tangible effects Jackson has on the Lansing community.”

Marier said seeing the financial impact that Jackson has on the community is one of his favorite parts of the internship.

“Seeing smiles on people's faces is so worth the work I do every day,” Marier said. “It’s great to be a part of a company that really cares about its community. Being from the area especially, it’s great to see how committed Jackson is to the Lansing region.”

Every two weeks Jackson also does a ‘jeans day.’ Everyone pays $5 each to wear jeans and each day it goes to a different charity. Marier always helps put together the promotional material for this and he also helps promote internal communications such as making posters of calendars with upcoming volunteer opportunities.

Currently, Marier is working on a story about the Jackson Zone. It’s about what the Zone does and how employees can work part-time and gain valuable business experience. The stories he writes go out to Jackson’s business partners, in the quarterly newsletter and Jackson’s website.

With a minor in public relations, Marier became heavily involved with the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) his junior year. He was also on the media relations team of MSU’s student-run PR firm, Hubbell Connections. Marier learned of the internship with Jackson through the PRSSA weekly email blast.

“I definitely wouldn’t have gotten either of my internships without PRSSA,” Marier said. “Hubbell Connections is what I talked about in my interviews. These groups at MSU introduce you to what potential employers want from you and the portfolio you should have. They have definitely prepared me for interviews, internships and given me valuable writing samples for the future.”

By Meg Dedyne

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ComArtSci junior finds her fit in nonprofit and public relations industries

Posted on: December 8, 2016

When junior Erika Nichols chose advertising as her major, she added a minor in public relations as a backup plan without ever having taken a class on the subject. After exploring her new minor through the writing for public relations class in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences and her marketing and public relations internship with the Henry Ford Macomb Hospital in Clinton Township, Nichols quickly learned that the public relations industry was for her.


“As a I got further into my internship, I really started liking PR and I’ve learned a lot so far from my mentors and by talking to people,” Nichols said.

Nichols was put in touch with the marketing director for the hospital last spring and said she got the courage to call the director and talk about the industry. After speaking with her and asking questions, Nichols was offered the internship.

As the only intern, Nichols was responsible for writing press releases and developing social media posts, even creating a few campaigns. She also wrote an article that was featured in their quarterly magazine.

One of her campaigns was called “Wellness Wednesday,” where the hospital partnered with the local mall. Nichols would go to free exercise events and hand out giveaways and pamphlets promoting health. She would then take photos for the hospital’s Instagram, Twitter and Facebook channels. The campaign reached a wide variety of people and created engagement on the page. Nichols said it was great to see these results.

Nichols said with tasks, such as the article she wrote for the quarterly newsletter, she had to do a lot of research in order to accomplish her goals.

“By doing research and collecting data, I found that I was able to complete the interview and article successfully,” Nichols said. “Learning how to complete this process was a great experience.”

She also learned important tools such as Google Analytics, Microsoft Excel and the importance of getting to know her co-workers and her office system.

“My supervisor asked me when I first started what I was interested in and at that point I was interested in learning everything,” Nichols said. “I really focused on social media and writing. I now understand how corporate social media works and little things, like which hashtag will be more effective. I didn’t realize how important writing was to the industry until my internship. I did everything from writing emails for people to press releases to refine my writing skills.”

Nichols stressed that an internship is what you make of it and that it’s important to figure out if you want to work for a nonprofit or for profit entity. She said she would like to explore more nonprofit experiences in her future because it’s important to her to feel like she is helping someone and making a difference. However, she also wants to find an internship elsewhere that’s a for profit company, just to view all options.

“I got to do great things during my internship and, most importantly, see results,” Nichols said. “I got one-on-one experiences with other professionals, sat down with PR people and I got to personalize my experience. I could see my work directly affecting people and inspiring them to want to change their health. It’s not about a number, it’s about a person and it’s nice to know your work is going to be viewed and affect other people.”

Nichols’ advice to other students is to talk to people you know about their experiences.

“That it the best way to learn something,” Nichols said. “Never discredit a connection; dive deeper into their field or any field you may be interested in. Have a set of questions to interview them; that is what sticks in my mind. Interviewing people in your field will open so many doors for you.”

By Meg Dedyne

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MSU advertising senior landed internship in BCBG’s LA showroom

Posted on: October 13, 2016

Katherine Barker’s mom knew since her daughter was a young girl, that she would go into advertising. She used to sit on the floor, looking at all of the different magazine ads and was fascinated by them. As she grew older and eventually came to MSU, she combined her love for advertising with a passion for fashion, sales and creativity.

picture1Barker graduated from MSU in August of 2016 in creative advertising. Before graduation, she moved out to Los Angeles and spent her summer as an LA showroom intern for BCBGMAXAZRIA, a women’s clothing chain ranging from evening gowns to workwear.

“I think I got my interest in fashion from always wanting to be put together and feeling confident in myself,” Barker said. “BCBG’s lines definitely promote confidence for women.”

During her internship, Barker experienced the inner workings of a showroom. She would check in samples from corporate, make tags for samples, steam samples and take care of other logistical components of getting the showroom ready.

Along with learning what goes into putting together a successful showroom, Barker also job shadowed in other departments, such as advertising and styling.

“It was so cool because looking at the website, I can pick out the models that I styled during my internship,” Barker said. “It was really neat because I got the whole view of the company.”

Barker also assisted with LA market week, which happens once every other month. She said the environment was creative and fun. It gave her the opportunity to connect with people from all over the world.

“I had so much fun with the people I worked with and our clients,” Barker said. “I think that’s what makes you want to work for a company – a good work environment and the people.”

Barker said she was surprised by how talented, down to earth and genuine people are in the fashion industry.

“Everyone has the idea that it is going to be like ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ or something like that,” Barker said. “But everyone in the industry has their own personalities and style, which is what makes an awesome company too.”

An internship with the corporate side of BCBG sparked Barker’s interest. She previously  worked for a BCBG store for three years prior to applying. However, she said obtaining the job was more about building her relationships through the BCBG brand.

“I knew I wanted to work for BCBG corporate, so I voiced this to my district manager,” Barker said. “I think I eventually got the internship because I networked, asked to do informational interviews and formed relationships with people all before submitting my application.”

BCBG emphasizes the importance of building customer relationships and because of that Barker discovered an interest she didn’t know she had – sales.

“I am starting to really like sales, but how BCBG does sales,” Barker said. “They want you to get to know each person and form a connection, so it didn’t really feel like sales to me, it felt like one of my friends was coming into the showroom.”

Barker said her creative advertising classes at MSU helped her come up with out-of-the-box and innovative ideas. When other people that she worked with thought of weird and quirky things, she got to contribute her creativity to their ideas as well.

“If you want to go into fashion, don’t be intimidated,” Barker said. “If you start networking early, branding yourself and talking to those around you, you will be surprised at how rewarding the industry can be.”

By Meg Dedyne

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Multicultural ad agency opens new doors through media internship

Posted on: October 7, 2016


Advertising senior Maya Parnell not only learned how to strategize and generate new ideas during her media internship at UniWorld Group Inc., she also learned something she never expected. She learned about people.

When Parnell started at UniWorld Group Inc., a multicultural advertising agency headquartered in New York City, she said she learned so much about media planning, project management and how to effectively implement these tools while studying people.

Some of UniWorld Group Inc.’s clients are Ford, Colgate, Home Depot and Amtrak.

Part of what Parnell did at her internship was analyze how people shop and carry out everyday tasks, then she made comparisons between the two. She understands that culture is ingrained in so many things people do.

“I learned when you see differences in people, not to look at it as a place of criticism; there is an understanding, underlying reason for everything; you just have to look at it closer,” Parnell said.

Being in a place like New York City really opened new doors for Parnell. She expressed that being in a culturally rich place made her realize that there is something for everything and everybody.

“I learned to understand the culture of the city better,” Parnell said. “I learned to take on new experiences and embrace them. I ate alone, I learned to adapt and do things on my own. You have to be a fast-paced learner, attentive and above all, resourceful.”

Parnell credits her internship experience and career connections to MSU alumni, the ComArtSci Career Services and the Connect Career trip to New York City. She interned two years ago at UniWorld Group Inc.’s office in Michigan and loved the company’s culture and the work that they did. She stayed in contact with the human resources department and when she went on the New York Connect Career trip, she contacted their headquarters and obtained a summer internship through her connections.

“The career trip to New York opened up my mind to a lot more possibilities,” Parnell said. “There is a freedom in being fearless. If you go for it and work hard, you will get the outcome that you want.”

Parnell’s advice for other students is to be resourceful because there is MSU alumni everywhere. If people know that you are interested, there are people that will help you make connections.

“Just because you don’t have a blueprint, doesn’t mean it can’t happen,” Parnell said. “The worst thing you can do is try and it not work out. You never know what is waiting for you.”

By Meg Dedyne

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Students Gain Real-World Experience with WKAR

Posted on: September 12, 2016

unknown-1This summer, MSU student Claudia Price found herself on the camera crew recording an outdoor concert for BackStage Pass; Isaac Constans was in Flint, covering the victory celebration of Olympic Champion Claressa Shields for Current Sports with Al Martin; and Jason Wu helped run auditions to select the new cast of Curious Crew, the award­-winning science TV show for kids.

Price, Constans, and Wu are MSU student employees at WKAR Public Media, mid-Michigan's source for award-winning originals and the best content from PBS and NPR. The station is headquartered in the College of Communication and Arts and Sciences, with studios and offices in the ComArtSci building on the south side of campus.

“WKAR has undoubtedly been the greatest working experience of my life,” said senior journalism major Isaac Constans, who works as an engineer and cohost of Current Sports Radio and a production assistant for Current Sports TV. “The environment, the people and the placement all combine to make it hospitable for student employees, although the end product is nothing but the highest degree of professional meticulousness.”

“This isn't a 'coffee-fetching' internship,” said WKAR Current Sports Host Al Martin. “Our students are shooting, editing, writing, and producing local content. That experience will prove to be vital once these students cross the stage to receive that respective degree.”

WKAR currently offers employment and internship positions for as many as 25 MSU students per term, and is committed to expanding those opportunities as the station enters a new era of original content creation for TV, film, radio, and online.

"The vision of the college and leadership team is to have WKAR be a training ground that allows students the opportunity for hands on experience,” said MSU College of Communication Arts and Sciences Dean Prabu David.

For Claudia Price, responsibilities have ranged from camera operation and staging to assistant producer and editing for both Curious Crew and BackStage Pass. It’s an experience that has taught the senior media and information major the “…importance of paying attention and being prepared for anything that's thrown at you.”

WKAR also offers students the opportunities to work directly with producers from developing strategy to creating content.

“Quite simply, we couldn't do what we do without our great students,” said WKAR-TV Executive Producer Tim Zeko. “Our student employees and interns are a vital resource for the creation of our award-winning content.”

For junior media and information major Jason Wu, the opportunity to work as a production assistant has allowed him to put into practice what was absorbed from classes and extracurricular activities. In return, WKAR has taught Wu to be humble.

“No matter how many production sets you have been on, no matter how many lessons you have learned, mistakes can and will be made. Don't be arrogant, stay professional, and own up to your mistakes when they happen so that you can learn from them," said Wu.

To learn more about the various student opportunities at WKAR, please visit

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Online strategic communication degree empowers working professionals

Pretty woman is working in a café

Organizations seek out the abilities. Professionals strive for the knowledge and skills. And starting Spring 2017, the MSU College of Communication Arts and Sciences will welcome its first class into a new online master’s program, convenient for working professionals, on strategic communications.

The Master of Arts in Strategic Communication represents the first time the College has offered a degree program 100 percent online. The program responds to the needs of professionals through its flexible delivery as well as through content that addresses the challenges of a 21st century communication environment.

"Given the rapidly changing communication ecosystem, mid-career professionals are eager for training to update their skills," says Prabu David, Dean of the College of ComArtSci. "Currently, communication professionals, including our own alumni, do not have rich, in-state options to learn new media techniques. This new online M.A. in strategic communication fills that gap."

Students in the nine-course, 30-credit program will examine how to leverage today's evolving media and digital mix into an integrated marketing and communications strategy for businesses, start-ups, non-profits or government agencies. Expert faculty will handle all aspects of course content and bring expertise in corporate messaging, news and information, fundamental communication processes, audience research and data analytics, and new technologies. Students will also complete a service-learning project that enables them to apply their newly acquired expertise within a community setting.

"The College of ComArtSci has long-standing leadership in an integrated theory-to-practice orientation toward effective communication strategy and tactics," says John Sherry, associate dean of for graduate studies in ComArtSci. "There is no other college in the world with such broad and deep coverage of these issues."

Students can complete courses and requirements from anywhere, anytime and at their own pace in one to three years. The program is ideally suited for working professionals with three to five years of experience in communications as well as for business and communication entrepreneurs. Students will also have opportunity to collaborate with other online learners, further enhancing their professional network.

"The ability for individuals to be located anywhere and enroll in this master's program is a distinct advantage," says ComArtSci Alum April M. Clobes, president and CEO of the MSU Federal Credit Union. "Being able to complete the program while working full-time is also essential for long-term success. MSU's high rankings in the field of communications along with excellent faculty, will make this a highly sought after degree."

The program is currently accepting applications and no GRE is required. To learn more about MSU's new online master's degree program in strategic communication through the College of ComArtSci, visit or contact the program director at

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