When many incoming USF freshmen are asked what their major is, the answers usually sound something like, “Business,” “Accounting,” or “Nursing.” Rarely do students answer with “Communication & Media Arts,” with most having never heard of such a major. I was one of these students, and most of you reading this right now are probably as well. Well, I’m here to show you that the University of St. Francis not only has an amazing Communication & Media Arts (CMMA) department, but an active and rapidly growing media presence in the community.
If I could sum up the major of Communication & Media Arts into one word, that word would be: creativity. Unlike many other Art and Music majors, this major allows you to be creative through several different channels, and if you take a liking to any one, there’s more than likely a way to get more involved. I became a CMMA major (Communication & Media Arts for short) my sophomore year after entering college as a Psychology major. The major offers courses to students in various types of media outlets and channels, such as radio and video, while also offering courses like Multimedia Arts for expressing creativity digitally. Writing Across the Media, taught by Professor Brien McHugh, teaches writers how to write for various forms of media, as well as public relations speaking. As a major, you take a set of core courses that range across the major, but then you pick two concentrations to focus on. The number of CMMA majors is lower compared to other majors at the school, but it gives a sense of community and cohesion to everyone in the program. The annual CMMA Banquet in the spring is a testament to that, as well as the personal connections the students make with all the professors. I like knowing that my professors know who I am, and I get to know them I know I wouldn’t at a public university. The CMMA department isn’t all work though. Several clubs have arisen from the department, and are currently very active throughout the USF school year.
The USF Encounter is the writing branch of the CMMA department, and is responsible for the magazine you’re reading right now. Yup, this one, in your hands. The Encounter is made up of the Newspaper Management class, as well as volunteer staff writers. Every month, the Encounter is responsible for putting out a monthly magazine for the students, and feature different sections like sports, entertainment, and commentary. The Encounter Magazine is led by Dr. Scott Marshall and the editors of each section. Amber James, a junior in the Newspaper Management class, says she couldn’t be happier writing for the Encounter. “Writing for the Encounter was the best decision I’ve ever made,” she commented. “I love writing, so to be able to write at least one article a month is awesome. Especially since they’re always different. I’ve made so many new friends, and it has forced me to step out of my comfort zone in the best way possible.”
If you have a passion for music or having yourself be heard, then the USF Radio Club might be the place for you. USF has a 24/7/365 radio station, 88.7 WCSF, for those who don’t know. Much of the music played on the station is picked by students, and sometimes music featured by USF students. WCSF also features talk show hosts and DJs, such as DJ Spoiled Milk. On air talent is always needed, so if you have an idea for the radio, bring it on over to WCSF and see if you can get a spot on the air.
These days, one of the most important methods of communication is through video. USF has that method of media covered as well, and that’s done through the USF TV Club. The USF TV Club is made up of the Television Management class as well as volunteers. Members of the club are responsible for creating weekly episodes of USF’s television segment, “Exploring Joliet” under the direction of Professor Richard Lorenc. Events featured on the show include Joliet Central vs. Joliet West basketball, NRHA Drag Race Nationals, and “It’s on Us” a sexual harassment and assault awareness video that has nearly 3,000 views. The show changes topics every week, and students can be in front of and behind the camera for the show. Gabriel Ceballos, a junior and leader in the TV Club, says that being in the club is a good experience. “Not only do we enhance our knowledge of digital media and explore our creativity through reports and editing, we also get to have real world media privilege and get to know what is happening around us in the city of Joliet.”
When most people think of USF, one of the last things they would probably think of would be our media presence. However, for being such a small school, we sure have a large connection to various media outlets. The CMMA department allows students to develop and enhance their skills in various forms of media and communication. Whether it’s the Encounter, WCSF, or USF TV, the students behind the work are dedicated to what they do, and if you’re interested, would be delighted to show you what we do.