Weber State students celebrated all things communication last week at the university’s first-ever COMMFest. Hosted by the Weber State Communications Department in conjunction with the Public Relations Student Society of America, the festival gave students an exclusive taste of what it’s like to be a communication major.“The communication department has a lot to offer and COMMFest was our chance to kind of lay it all out on the table,” said digital media adviser Drew Tyler. “We thought it would be a fun way to explore all the communication options and offerings in one place and one time.”Located at the entrance to Elizabeth Hall, the festival started at 3 p.m. with a full itinerary of events where anyone was welcome to participate.Live radio streams, interactive booths, and “red carpet style” broadcasts all contributed to showcasing the world of communication amid the usual student traffic.
“We just wanted to make the communication major more visible and help people understand what you can do with a communications degree,” said Sheree Josephson, communications department chair, who added that there is a broad spectrum of career opportunities available for communication majors.
The second floor was lined with several booths, each representing a specific communication emphasis. From public speaking to digital media, students could learn about the various fields of communication as they walked by.
According to Nicola Corbin, PRSSA and Ogden Peak Communications adviser, the festival also introduced students to the five communication co-curriculars, which are student organizations that offer “hands-on experiences” in the workplace.
Organizations included Studio 76, KWCR 88.1, WSU Debate, Ogden Peak Communication, PRSSA, The Signpost, the Society of Professional Journalists and Lamda Pi Eta.
“We had this whole festival going on in which people could also come and visit the organizations and interact with the students who are actually doing it,” Corbin said. “I hope that they got little tidbits of information about each group. It’s all about sparking interest.”
According to Corbin, who was the event’s primary organizer, COMMFest was created based on research conducted from surveys to determine what students thought about communication degrees.
The research confirmed the department’s suspicions: many students believed that “you have to like people” to be a communications major, according to Corbin. She wanted to host COMMFest to shed more light on this myth.
“We wanted to gauge student attitudes and what they really knew about communications,” Corbin said about the survey. “We created this festival to help those prospective and undecided folks understand all the limitless opportunities there are with a communication degree.”
For one day, both budding communication students and department professors shared their expertise during breakout sessions that showcased their research presentations.
Corbin said COMMFest not only recruited students but also exposed students to the work that is being done with a communication degree.
“We also wanted to celebrate our students and faculty who are already doing good work in this field,” she said, “We wanted to open people’s eyes and show what that good work looks like.”
According to Corbin, college and high school students were also welcome to submit an entry in either the yearbook, poster or essay contest hosted by COMMFest. Local high school student’s short films were also featured in the Studio 76 Film Festival at the Wildcat Theater.
The student competition winners were announced throughout the evening as part of the COMMFest celebration.
The highlight of the evening was the Weber Speaks Showcase which began at 7 p.m. in Lecture Room 229. The Showcase topped off COMMFest by featuring five speakers from Weber’s public speaking classes.
“That’s the kind of creativity that we wanted to infuse,” said Corbin about the speeches. “We welcome student input and feedback because it’s always new and fresh.”
However, according to Corbin, the overall purpose of COMMFest was to answer the big question: What can you do with a communications degree?
At the end of the day, the festival answered that question by giving students new insight into the world of communication.
“We wanted to share all that joy during CommFest. We want to show the ways in which we can apply and make sense of communication,” said Corbin, “because it doesn’t matter how knowledgeable you are. If you can’t touch your audiences in the right way, it’s not going to matter.”