Student Stories

Emma Weissenfels ‘19
ComArts major, double minor in German and Political Science

Emma, who is in the cultural criticism path, joined the ComArts department because of its interdisciplinary nature and because she has found that the skills she learns (like critical thinking, public speaking, the ability to write and use a camera) can be applicable anywhere. She mentioned that she gets “exposed to a number of disciplines such as politics, economics, sports, and many others that I might not otherwise be aware of and generally feel much better informed of the world after having taken ComArts classes.” While she currently does not know what career she wants to pursue, she is looking to find where she is needed in the world and job market and is working on developing skills and being open to different careers and environments.

Additionally, Emma is a student doing research on campus over the summer under the Andrew W. Mellon Grant for the Communication Arts Department. She and Professor Julie Wilson are working on a project called “Love and Infrastructures” that is focused on  learning about the components of infrastructures which can be defined as both the physical and organizational structures that allow a society to operate. So, while certain parts of infrastructure like cars, roads, and buildings are normalized within everyday society, they are digging under the surface to be better informed about kinds of infrastructure that are invisible to the public such as  how cellular devices and the internet physically function. The purpose of their research is to acknowledge and understand the inequalities that develop alongside technological development such as the “digital divide” where some people have physical access to technology and others may not, and even people with access to technology do not have access to information that may be labeled as “privileged” or “private”. They hope to make the workings of public utilities more transparent to the public, and to create just uses for infrastructure.

Abbey Hughes ‘18
Communication Arts major, History Minor

Abbey, who is on the criticism path, chose ComArts because she wanted to pick a field that would allow her to not only analyze people and culture, but participate in a more interactive learning process than other majors. She has come to enjoy how introductory classes lay foundational material that can be built upon in upper-level courses that are more discussion-based and encourage participation. She says that “when everyone is aware of the same conceptual ideas, tools, and frameworks, students and professors both do the work of teaching” which makes for a positive learning environment. While she is not sure what her future career path will look like, she is hoping to combine her knowledge from ComArts with her love for history and thinks she may work in a museum at some point.

Additionally, Abbey worked with  with Professor Ishita Sinha Roy as a summer research student under the Andrew W. Mellon Research in the Humanities Grant (2017), under which she has been working to create an undergraduate research journal focusing on diversity, community, and critical cultural studies. They are aiming to receive work from interdisciplinary students in the form of articles, videos and photography.

Meric Islam ‘18
ComArts, Community Justice Minor

Meric used to be a computer science major, loved it at first and then got bored and decided he would try ComArts because of his interest in marketing, so he took a marketing class that pushed him out of his comfort zone and further into the department. He says that being in Computer Science was comfortable because it allowed him to stay in his comfort zone, but ComArts got him to push his boundaries and see himself and society through a different lens. Meric says that his favorite part of the department are the faculty members and students who are part of it. He says, “The faculty in the ComArts department are what make the program for me. They helped me grow not only as a scholar, but as an individual.” His advice to students looking to pursue ComArts is to take classes in all of the three paths offered (criticism, film, and theatre) in order to have a more well-rounded understanding of the department and to gain skills that will make one more marketable. He hopes to do some sort of public relations work or advertising for a nonprofit such as  St. Jude. when he graduates, but is open to finding other opportunities as well.

Additionally, Meric worked with Professor Emily Yochim as a summer research student under the Andrew W. Mellon Research in the Humanities Grant (2017). In a previous class on media in Meadville, Professor Emily Yochim had students create a website with podcasts they created on learning the connection between media and the youth in Meadville in particular, Meric spent his summer continuing this work with the goal of creating new podcasts and helping Professor Yochim gain content for a class and possible book in the future about media in Meadville.

Arianna O’Connell
Communication Arts, Psychology Minor

Arianna came to Allegheny originally intending to pursue a career in journalism, but discovered a love for the Communication Arts department in her first semester largely as a result of the interdisciplinary nature of the courses which allowed her to learn about media, history, politics, psychology, economics and how each of these aspects affect our lives as part of a larger culture. She says the value of a Communication Arts education is in learning from  professors in the department because of their ability to push the boundaries of what students know and foster an environment that allows for amazing critical discussions among students and faculty alike. While she is still figuring out her calling, through summer research in this department for two consecutive years she has found a love for thinking and writing critically about the American political system and hopes to work on political campaigns, become a political analyst, or a journalist.

Additionally, Arianna worked with Professor Joseph Tompkins under the Andrew W. Mellon Research in the Humanities Grant in the summer of  2017 to construct an undergraduate research journal for the college’s chapter of Lambda Pi Eta, a Communication Arts national honors society, and has been helping to update the Communication Arts website to make it more accessible to students. After noticing that Communication Arts students felt the need for more resources and direction in what they would be able to do with their degree, Arianna began working with Professor Tompkins and Vukovich Building Coordinator Amanda Allen, to collect student and alumni stories, collect data on the whereabouts and internships career possibilities for graduates with ComArts degrees. She hopes that her work in creating a more cohesive website will help students feel more comfortable entering the job market with the knowledge that their degree and their experiences at Allegheny can help them achieve greatness.

Prizes & Awards

The Paul Henry and John V. Gilmore Prize

Established by Dr. John V. Gilmore, Class of 1930, in memory of his brother, Paul Henry Gilmore, to present an annual award to a student for outstanding contribution to Theatre Arts at Allegheny.
2017 Awarded to: Rachael Ellis ’19

The Philo-Franklin Prize

Established by the PhiloFranklin Literary Society, to award a student for outstanding achievement in the field of speech communication.
2017 Awarded to: Rachael Robertson ’17 

The Wakefield Oration Prize

Established through a bequest of James A. Wakefield in honor of Reverend Samuel Wakefield, D.D., is awarded annually to a student demonstrating outstanding achievement in the field of mass communications.
2017 Awarded to: Jeremy Loewer  ’17  

Communication Arts Dance Award

Awarded in recognition of excellence in studio dance composition.
Awarded to: Rayana Pelisari ’17

The Outstanding Junior Major Prize

For Theatre, is awarded for exceptional academic achievement, performance in the seminar, and contribution to the general life of the department.
2017 Awarded to: Aleaa Reyes ’18

The Senior Theatre Prize

Awarded to a senior who has demonstrated outstanding achievement in the field of dramatics and who intends to pursue graduate study in drama.
2017 Awarded to: Mary Lyon ’17

The Outstanding Junior Major Prize

For Communication Arts, is awarded for exceptional academic achievement, performance in the seminar, and contribution to the general life of the department.
2017 Awarded to: Arianna O’Connell ’18  &  Bailey Landis  ’18