COMMfest offers new perspectives for students

Hayley Waldbillig, junior, comm (Lichelle Jenkins/The Signpost)
Hayley Waldbillig, a junior, was one of five Weber State University students who gave their speeches during an Ogden City Council meeting April 7 as part of Weber Speaks, a new program from the communication department to get public speaking students into the community. (Lichelle Jenkins/The Signpost)

Weber State’s communication department is trying to change the way students think about the major with a new program highlighting all of the courses of study within the department.

COMMfest will be hosted April 16 from 3 to 6 p.m. in Elizabeth Hall. It will feature interactive exhibits of the department’s co-curricular activities, the KWCR radio station, the video production lab Studio 76, The Signpost, the Weber State Debate team and the public relations team Ogden Peak Communications, which is organizing the event.

Immediately afterward in Elizabeth Hall, students from Communication 1020 public speaking classes will be featured in the first Speech Showcase. The showcase is part of a new Weber Speaks program that is getting students who may not be majors into the community to give speeches they created in their general education public speaking classes.

The Weber Speaks program launched this week with five public speaking students, Hayley Waldbillig, Brady Libby, Cara Darr, Alexa Peterson and Brandon Hyer, giving their speeches before the Ogden City Council Tuesday night.

COMMfest was created after the department surveyed students about opportunities within the department and found that students believed public speaking was the main option in the department. Few knew that KWCR, Studio 76 and The Signpost were also within the communication department.

“I don’t think people understood the range of the opportunities that are available, which is as much as we guessed,” said assistant professor Nicola Corbin, adviser for Ogden Peak Communications. “We wanted to figure out who influenced their decisions on choosing a major, because those are essentially the people we would target while doing our campaign.”

Brady Libby (Lichelle Jenkins/ The SIgnpost)
Brady Libby addresses the Ogden City Council April 7 during Weber Speaks. (Lichelle Jenkins/ The SIgnpost)

The communication department found that it was not getting information out to the people who could be doing the influencing.

COMMfest is designed to reach out not only to undeclared Weber State students, but also to high school students. In addition to highlighting the communication areas of study, one activity called “Speed Dating the Professionals” will provide alumni of the department the opportunity to talk to students about what it takes to get into their line of work.

One student thought it might be helpful.

“I think the Communication fest will be a great way to get the department’s opportunities out there,” said freshman Jenna Whitney. “I wasn’t sure that the communication department had so many job opportunities that were available to communication students.”

Freshman Brontae Hansen also liked the idea.

“For students who don’t have a major I believe that with the communication fest, they may become interested in the department because of the booths and activities that the communication fest will offer,” Hansen said.

Students who visit COMMfest will have the chance to experience the co-curricular activities hands-on. KWCR will have an exhibit that allows students to be a DJ for a few minutes, and Studio 76 will have a demonstration of a video camera set up for students to try out.

The object of the co-curricular activities in the department is to provide students real-world practice to complement the classroom teaching they receive in the communications major.

Professors from all areas of study will also be available to talk about the major, and five professors will talk about their research into media subjects.

“I think that the communication fest is a good idea to get students who may not know their major more opportunities to think about,” said freshman Madison Rayner. “I personally didn’t know about all of the opportunities the communication department offered, so having the festival is cool.”