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'Communication Mashup' Offers Something for Every Student


West Windsor, N.J. – There was a major "mashup" at the Mercer County Community College (MCCC) Conference Center in November, spearheaded by Associate Professor of Communication Kathi Paluscio with major assistance from several students. A first for the Communication Division, the event was partly a career workshop for current students, partly a marketing initiative for prospective students, and partly a chance for program alumni to reconnect and share their stories.

"The Mashup was designed to provide something for every student," Paluscio said. "We wanted to offer real-life benefits -- professional and peer connections, personalized resume review, internship opportunities, and information on transfer. Faculty and staff participated enthusiastically."

Judging from the turnout, the event offered just the right formula for success. "If you do it right, students will come out in droves," Paluscio said. "Then you can count on them to talk about what they experienced with others in the college and the community."

Paluscio said the Mashup was inspired by a five-day Leaders Conference she attended last summer hosted by the American Association of Women in Community Colleges. One of the main topics of the conference was enacting positive change. "At the institute, we learned that when you want to create something big, you need to build a community to help you do it. That's why this event had the buy-in of communication majors, alumni, industry professionals, and our faculty."

Paluscio enlisted the help of three students who played key roles in designing the Mashup and managing publicity: current Communication majors Devan Flaherty and Amelia Ortman, and alumna Mariana Braz, who is pursuing her master's degree in Communication and working as an intern.

Paluscio explained that she wanted to give the students a full experience of what it's like to plan a large-scale event from start to finish, one with real benefits for them and their peers. "They learned so very much about public relations and leadership as they coordinated the event and worked with the volunteer groups that assisted us. It was a very big deal for them -- and a great entry on their resumes," Paluscio said.

The Mashup accomplished another goal that was stressed at the Leaders Institute. "They emphasized that in addition to teaching our subject matter, faculty members should be actively engaged in marketing their programs."

She says that with the right approach, this can be done relativey simply. "The idea is for faculty to make a habit of documenting the kind of activities we do every day with our students. We can create a living brochure of what our programs are about."

Paluscio adds that satisfied, successful students are a college's best advertising.

MCCC Communication Program

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Leaders of Mashup 2015, from left, Communication student Amelia Ortman, Professor Kathi Paluscio, student Devan Flaherty and alumna Mariana Braz. Photo by Kyle Willis.

Dr. Alexandra Salas (right), instructional designer for MercerOnline, offers resume advice. Photo by Kyle Willis.
Students check out internship opportunities. Photo by Kyle Willis.
Professor of Television Steve Voorhees interviews Amelia Ortman about her experience as a Communication student. Photo by Kyle Willis.
Glenn Kraft