May 15

Academic Trivia #10: How do I correctly wear my academic regalia? (reboot!)

One of our most popular posts (seriously, it almost went viral!) was our “How do I correctly wear my academic regalia?” post. Today’s post is a reboot of that one, but with new models! Ahhh! Many thanks to Cayden and Kylie for their years of service, but it was time for an update. So who was I to call? Future Communication Studies alums Alisha Alvarez, Kelsey Chester, and Emily Genge! Check them out below as they demonstrate the DOS and DON’TS of academic fashion at graduation! First the DON’TS: DON’T #1: You are going to graduation, not a beauty pageant, so don’t wear your hood as a sash, hanging low over your shoulders!

Kelsey, don't wear your hood as a sash!

Kelsey, don’t wear your hood as a sash!

DON’T #2: Your cap should not defy the laws of gravity on graduation day! Women are the most frequent offenders of this rule, although I have seen some men break it too (just yesterday, in fact!).

Your cap shouldn't defy gravity, Kelsey!

Your cap shouldn’t defy gravity, Kelsey!

DON’T #3: Although your hood is called a hood, it is not to be worn as one!

photo 1-2

Alisha, just because it’s called a hood, don’t wear it like one!

DON’T # 4: Don’t hide your USF pride by only showing the white velvet of your hood.

Emily, show us your USF pride! Don't hide it!

Emily, show us your USF pride! Don’t hide it!

DON’T #5: While some caps (such as baseball) can be worn backwards, your graduation cap cannot!

Turn your cap around, Kelsey!

Turn your cap around, Kelsey!

Now for the DO’S! DO #1: Do show your USF pride by flaring out the chevron of gold and Kelly green on your hood! The color of the velvet on your hood signifies your area of study (white is for the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences). The chevron of colors on the inside of your hood signify the university granting the degree (green and gold for USF).

Emily is proud of her area of study and her school!

Emily is proud of her area of study and her school!

DO #2: Do wear your cap on the top of your head! It should be flat enough on top so that you could balance a textbook (so last week) or a drink (so this week) on it, if you needed to!

There you go, Kelsey!

There you go, Kelsey!

DOs #3, #4, and #5: Do wear your hood close around your neck, not over your shoulders. Do wear your honors designations, including cords, pins, and medals! Do stand tall and proud! You have achieved something wonderful today! Wear your robes and caps with confidence!

Our COMS majors Kelsey, Emily, and Alisha are graduation fashion DOs!

Our COMS majors Kelsey, Emily, and Alisha are graduation fashion DOs!

A big thank you to Kelsey, Emily, and Alisha! And an even bigger congratulations to them and to all of the USF students who will be graduating tomorrow! We are so proud of you and and your accomplishments! Don’t forget to come to the Communication Studies Department Graduation Reception immediately following the commencement ceremony in LoSchiavo 104, the Getty Study. All of your COMS faculty will be there to congratulate you! We will also have refreshments and a memento for each graduate from the department! Friends and family are invited!

May 09

Dons’ Doings: Alumni Speaker and Graduation Celebration Night Monday May 12th!

2009 Graduate and Alumni Speaker, Katie Caughman

2009 Graduate and Alumni Speaker, Katie Caughman

Graduation is just around the corner, and that means that our Alumni Speaker and Graduation Celebration Night is also just around the corner! It is coming up this Monday May 12th 6:00-8:00 pm in the Maraschi Room of Fromm Hall! All Communication Studies major are welcome! Here are more details:

Each year we invite a Communication Studies alum back to campus to give a speech to our students. This year’s Alumni Speaker is Katie Caughman, a 2009 graduate from our department. Katie is the Global Communications Associate for The Asia Foundation, a nonprofit international development organization. She previously worked at AtomicPR and GolinHarris International. She is also a certified yoga teacher! Katie will be sharing her experience in the working world with us, talking about how she uses her COMS major in her current position, and offering advice based on her experiences. In short, it promises to be a wonderful evening with one of our highly successful alums!

After Katie’s talk, we will be recognizing our graduating Lambda Pi Eta members, who will receive their honor cords, pins, and certificates.

Please join us for this special end-of-the-year event! Again, the even is open to all majors, so please join us even if you are not graduating or not in Lambda Pi Eta! You are still welcome! Refreshments, courtesy of Lambda Pi Eta and the Communication Studies Department, will also be served! We hope to see you there!

Apr 29

Student Shout-Out: Alfonso and Charity Super Sunday

COMS Major Alfonso Garcia

COMS Major Alfonso Garcia

The Charity Super Sunday Event

The Charity Super Sunday Event

Today’s “Student Shout-Out” goes to Communication Studies major Alfonso Garcia and his work with Charity Super Sunday, M.O.B. Charities, and the California Donor Network! While I was cheering on my beloved Seattle Seahawks in this year’s Super Bowl (I know, I hear either crickets or hisses since I am in 49er and Raider country), Alfonso was doing much more important and necessary work (after all, the Seahawks were so good, they didn’t really need my cheering). But to understand what Alfonso was doing, you need to hear a bit of the backstory…

Last fall, Alfonso took our COMS 204: Communication and Culture class. As all of our 204 alums know, the main project for the class is an ethnographic research project on a specific cultural group. Alfonso and his class project partner, Wes Mills, chose the Raider Nation Fan Base, “one of the most loyal and passionate fan bases in America,” as Alfonso describes them. They specifically focused on M.O.B. Charities, a specific fan base of the Raider Nation. Here’s how Alfonso describes the experience: “At first the name M.O.B. was terrifying, but we later came to find out through our point of contact, Dr. Death (A Raider Fan/Character), that it really meant Making Oakland Better, Making Ourselves Better, and Making Others Better. M.O.B. Charities supports organizations and groups in Oakland and its surrounding areas with their one of a kind ‘All Weekend Tailgates’ for Raiders home games that begin Friday night and conclude shortly after the game ends on Sunday afternoon.” Wes and Alfonso eventually became “Official 66th Mobsters” by participating in an all-weekend tailgate!

Through his ethnographic research project, Alfonso got to know members of the M.O.B. Charities Raider Nation and that is how he ended up participating in Charity Super Sunday with them and working for a cause that Alfonso is passionate about: Organ Donation. Alfonso is an Ambassador for the California Transplant Donor Network, and he himself is a organ donation recipient. Since his transplant over four years ago, he has been working to raise awareness about organ donation and to sign people up to become organ donors.

I asked Alfonso to share with me what happened at the event: “The event was extraordinary. Regardless of what people’s preconceived notions of the Raiders may be, M.O.B. Charities is a stand out organization in Oakland, passionate about their Raiders and helping others.  Rather than having an exclusive ‘Raiders fans only’ event for their Super Bowl viewing experience, they invited me to use their event to promote organ and tissue donation, a cause I’m heavily involved in.  We had a few people stop by the M.O.B. Charities tent and learn more about the cause, but the opportunity was to teach people about M.O.B. Charities and the different causes and organizations they support such as the Stanford Hospital Ronald McDonald House Charities.

After the Super Bowl, they promised to have a larger organ and tissue donation event during the 2014-15 regular season.  This would entail 3 full days of tailgating and sharing information about organ and tissue donation with Raider fans and fellow MOBsters.”

What an amazing story about how Alfonso took what started out as a class project, seemingly removed from his work on organ donation, and brought the two together in the most amazing of ways. Congratulations to Alfonso on his impressive work!

You can learn more about the California Transplant Donor Network here: and M.O.B. Charities here:


Note: Sorry, I know the links above aren’t showing up. I can’t get them to work on the new blog interface. And the pictures would only appear at the top of the entry. Sigh…

Apr 10

Dons’ Doings: Pizza with the Pros Monday April 14th!

One of our most popular events of the year is coming up this Monday April 14th at 6:30 pm in the Lo Schiavo Getty Room 104!

That’s right, PIZZA WITH THE PROS is back!

We have a slate of impressive communication professionals who will be joining us for an evening of networking with our Communication Studies majors. Each pro will talk for a few minutes about their position and offer advice to our students. Then students will have the opportunity to talk with our pros personally. We have had students land internships on the spot in past years and several of our pros are looking for interns right now!

I mean, really this is all you need to know:

  1. Pizza is always good.
  2. Free pizza is even better.
  3. Free pizza with the opportunity to network with communication professionals who want to offer you advice about how to be successful after graduation? Well, that is not to be missed.

We have pros joining us from the San Francisco Giants, Bay Area Council, Sparks, Athletes to Business, BOCA Communications, LinkedIn, About Face, and USF! 

Please join us for what promises to be a very helpful evening with local communication professionals! We hope to see you there!

Pizza with the Pros Changes-1

Apr 04

Dons’ Doings: Graduate School Information Session Tuesday 4/8

If you are interested in graduate school, or think you might be interested in graduate school, or think you might sometime maybe might be interested in graduate school… You should definitely plan on attending our Graduate School Information Session!

A panel of your Communication Studies faculty members (Professors Ho, DeLaure, Sery, Lawless, and myself) along with one of our alums, Jamie Foster, who recently completed her Masters degree in Communication Studies at SFSU, will talk about all things graduate school, including…

  • how to research programs
  • how to apply for graduate school
  • where to go and when to go
  • funding opportunities
  • reasons to consider graduate school and reasons to not go to graduate school

That’s right, we will cover all of the ins and outs of graduate school! We hope to see you Tuesday April 8th, 11:45-12:45 in KA 211! 

COMS Grad School Info Session

Apr 03

Red Alert: Lambda Pi Eta is now recruiting!

We are pleased to announce that the Communication Studies Department honors society, Lambda Pi Eta, is now recruiting new members! If you can answer “yes” to the following questions, you should definitely apply for membership!

  • Do you have a 3.0 or higher overall GPA?
  • Do you have a 3.25 or higher Communication Studies major GPA?
  • Have you completed (or will you have completed by the end of this semester) 60 total units, including three Communication Studies courses?
  • Have you received a grade of a “B-” or higher in ALL of your Communication Studies courses?

Lambda Pi Eta is the official honor society of the National Communication Association. The Kappa Iota chapter at the University of San Francisco was founded in 1994. We host a variety of academic, social, and community service activities throughout the year, including Pizza with the Profs, Communication Studies Career Night, Pizza with the Pros, Alumni Speaker Night, Pie Day, and others! We also host a mentorship program for new Communication Studies majors. Becoming a member will mean that you will join a fun and friendly group of COMS majors, get to know other people in the department better, and participate in events designed to help you while you are here and as you plan for life after graduation. Plus, you get honor cords for graduation and your name is printed in the Commencement Program as one of our honors society members! You could also wear a cool shirt like this one:

LPH President Maude rocking our LPH t-shirt!

LPH President Maude rocking our LPH t-shirt!

In short, there is no reason not to join if you meet our requirements!

You can download the application here lambda pi eta application 2014 or pick one up in our main office, KA 313. Applications are due to my office, KA 342, by Wednesday April 16th. I will let you know via email if you are accepted or not by May 1st.

If you are applying (or one of our current members who is not yet graduating) you should know that we are also looking for officers for the 2014-2015 academic year. If you are interested in potentially serving as an officer, please contact me at I hope to see many applications for LPH coming in within the next few weeks!

Mar 23

Dons’ Doings: Speaker Series Inaugural Event featuring Dr. Gerry Philipsen

The Communication Studies Department is very pleased to announce our Inaugural Speaker Series Event featuring Professor Gerry Philipsen from the University of Washington. Dr. Philipsen’s talk, entitled “Finding One’s Feet in Unfamiliar Cultural Terrain” will address the questions of what is cultural diversity and how do we make sense of the variety of cultures we encounter on a daily basis? The event will take place this Wednesday, March 26th, 5:00-6:30 pm in the Berman Room of Fromm Hall. This event is open to the USF community, and we especially encourage all of our Communication Studies majors to attend.

Professor Gerry Philipsen

Professor Gerry Philipsen

Dr. Philipsen is a renowned communication studies scholar who specializes in ethnography and is well-known for developing “speech codes theory” and for his classic “Teamsterville” ethnographic study (an award-winning article read by many of our Communication and Culture students). Dr. Philipsen received his PhD from Northwestern University in 1972 and has been a professor at the University of Washington for over thirty-four years. We are honored to feature him as the inaugural speaker in our Communication Studies Speaker Series.


Mar 18

Dons’ Doings: PIE DAY this Thursday 3/20!

It’s that time of the semester again, time for our bi-annual Lambda Pi Eta PIE DAY fundraiser! Da da da-ah! Our Lambda Pi Eta  members will be selling slices of pie to benefit our honors society. Lambda Pi Eta hosts many events every semester that benefit all of our Communication Studies majors (Pizza with the Profs, Pizza with the Pros, Career Night, Alumni Speaker Night, I could go on…) so we are hoping that you will come out and support us. The slices of pie are ver-r-y reasonably priced at $2-3 per slice for homemade pie!

Join us this Thursday March 20th, 11:30-12:30 in Gleeson Plaza! You don’t want to be caught without your “I ate pie with Lambda Pi Eta” sticker, do you? Do you?


Feb 26

Student Shout-Out: COMS majors at the WSCA Conference

Today’s “Student Shout-Out” goes to seven of our Communication Studies Majors who recently presented papers at the Western States Communication Association Undergraduate Scholars Research Conference. The conference took place in Anaheim, CA on February 15th. Students from many universities, including Arizona State, University of Portland, University of Washington (Go Dawgs!), University of Colorado, Boise State, and others presented papers. But by far the most well-represented school was USF! Our students presented papers that they wrote in Professor Lawless and Professor DeLaure’s classes. Here are the students and their papers:

Sabrina Gunn “Lean Out: How Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In Movement Misses the Feminist Mark”

Brianne Murray “Trial and Error: Students Relying on Financial Aid at Private Universities”

Eunice Ahn “Studying Abroad and Its Effects on Students”

Jacob Talarman “Beyond the Relationship: So Now What?”

Katelyn Rems “The Silicon Love Triangle: Me, You and the Startup: A Qualitative Study on the Communication Between Entrepreneurial Couples”

Naudia Queen “The Single Parent Paradox: The Struggle Between Loyalty and Independence”

Steven Slasten “Clash of the Titans: The Rhetorical Battle Over the Keystone XL Pipeline”

JT Talarman and Sabrina Gunn prepping for their presentation

JT Talarman and Sabrina Gunn prepping for their presentation

Brianne Murray and Eunice Ahn getting ready to present

Brianne Murray and Eunice Ahn getting ready to present

JT Talarman presenting his paper at the conference

JT Talarman presenting his paper at the conference

A big congratulations to all of our students who presented at WSCA!

Feb 25

Minor Matters: Tina and the Child and Youth Studies Minor

As many of you know, since I had an actual baby two years ago the blog has received less attention than in its heyday. Gone are the days of a new post every. single. day. But you know what is not gone? New categories for the blog! That’s right! I have more categories on here than I can possibly give attention to, but that has not stopped me from adding another! The new category being unveiled today: MINOR MATTERS! Da da da daah! Many of our Communication Studies majors are involved in all sorts of interesting minor programs from departments all over campus. I thought it would be interesting to share some of them here on the blog and learn from students why they chose the minor they did. First up is senior Communication Studies major and Lambda Pi Eta Vice President Tina Celani who is minoring in Child and Youth Studies. Here she is:

COMS major and CYS minor Tina

COMS major and CYS minor Tina

“Hello, everyone! My name is Tina Celani and I am currently a senior COMS major with a Child and Youth Studies minor at USF. With the array of minor options offered by USF, I decided to pick Child and Youth studies as my minor because I am really interested in learning about the development of children, in particular the how the development of children is effected by education. I grew up in a family with a strong emphasis on education, particularly educating children and adolescents. My grandpa and grandma built and developed a preschool, Glendale Preschool and Kindergarten, in Glendale, CA and my mother has since taken over the business as the director. I have always been interested in education and working with all types of people, but in particular learning and working with children and adolescents. Therefore, I picked this minor because it provided elements for me to learn about the general psyche and development of children and adolescents as well as educational structures and family structures that effect a child’s development, either positively or negatively. With all this said, I took on this minor.

Since I’m in progress with taking my final major and minor requirements (SCARY, RIGHT?), I believe this minor was the perfect fit for me. It taught me the general development of children and youth, from the cute and adorable babies to the “angsty” teenagers, through General Psychology and Child Development. It taught me how different types of families, through the Diversity of American Families class, affect children and the overall perceptions of the “American family.” Lastly, it taught me how education plays a huge role in the development of children to young adults, by either increasing or decreasing the achievement and/or opportunity gap between students (which you will definitely learn if you take Sociology of Education). Overall, I love this minor and all the components that it makes up.

The Child and Youth studies minor adds to my COMS major by taking on a specific area of interest within the COMS major and really honing in and learning more about it. Through my COMS studies courses, I learned the value of “communication in everyday life” (yes, I quoted your class, Professor Doohan) and, more specifically, communication between family members and communication within interpersonal relationships. It provided me with a valuable set of knowledge going into these courses that I would not have known about otherwise. Just to let you all know, the COMS major is an awesome major, prospective and current students of USF.  [Ha ha, I added the bold, underline, italics, just for emphasis.]

One of my favorite classes taken for my minor would definitely be Sociology of Education. First off, Professor Milman is a baller teacher who is passionate about the material she teaches and is passionate about her students in her class. I would definitely recommend taking her. Sociology of Education serves as an analysis of the education system put in place for kindergarteners all the way to college and graduate students in the United States. It talks about various topics such as tracking to cliques and race to gender and the implications and critiques of them. It also, in our ending weeks, teaches students educational reform measures taken. It is an amazing class that incorporates both COMS major elements and Child and Youth studies minor elements and I would highly recommend taking it.”

Thanks, Tina, for sharing your experience with the Child and Youth Studies minor! It is a minor that does nicely complement the interpersonal and family communication courses that our department offers. Fun fact, our own Professor Thorson is on the Child and Youth Studies minor committee and COMS 306: Family Communication is one of the minor elective options.

Are you involved in an interesting minor that you want to share with us here on the blog? Contact me at

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