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Regional Conference Showcases Bethel’s ‘Rock Star’ Communication Studies Students

Regional Conference Showcases Bethel’s ‘Rock Star’ Communication Studies Students

Professor of Communication Studies Nancy Brule with Lauren Clyne ’19, who won top poster at the recent Central States Communication Association (CSCA) conference.

“Rock stars,” is the specific way Professor of Communication Studies Nancy Brule describes how Bethel students could expect to be treated when they present at the Central States Communication Association (CSCA) conference each spring. “I always tell them, when you go there, to this conference, you’re going to be rock stars,” she says.

There’s a reason she’s so confident. This semester, 21 Bethel communication studies students submitted papers for the CSCA conference in Milwaukee this April. Of them, 17 were accepted. Though competing against students from schools of every size and caliber across 14 states in the Midwest, Bethel will have, by far, the strongest representation of any university. “There will be about 75, maybe 80 students in attendance,” says Brule. “And then you realize 17 of those are ours—and they have been selected from probably 100 and some papers—it’s a great representation.”

In early April, the students competed in the conference by presenting papers—with a correlating PowerPoint presentation and speech—or posters, with the information printed out and displayed. In the poster division, students might present up to five times an hour. Both options give students the opportunity to connect with panels of judges and gain exposure to the job market and wider industry. Lauren Clyne ’19 won top poster for her research on “Overinvestment in Romantic Relationships.”

Independent filmmaking major Emily Lewis ’19 presented a poster for her paper “The Art of the Tweet,” which covers how social media influences politics and, more specifically, how it impacted the 2016 presidential election. She’s looking forward to the experience and is glad to have affirmation that the extensive work she’s accomplishing through her classes is indeed good work, as shown through the number of papers accepted for the conference.

Brule also presented two papers of her own. One she has already shared with the Bethel community at an event in the Bethel University Library, entitled “‘We still don't do Christmas...’: Victims of Adolescent-to-Parent Abuse and Their Experiences of Disenfranchised Grief.” She has also won the Top Panel Award for undergraduate educators for a paper on how collegiate departments remain cutting edge in times of change. “How do you keep yourself important enough that you’re not one of the [programs] on the chopping block?” Brule says. “That’s kind of a crude way to say it, but it’s the reality of it.”

Brule believes Bethel’s communication studies programs have indeed remained cutting edge. When Brule started in 2004, she explains, “we revamped the program. We wanted to bring the rigor up a notch. We wanted to be the best communication program out there. We feel like we’re there, and a lot of people in our discipline would agree with us.” If the number of papers accepted for the CSCA conference or graduate assistantships offered to students are any indication, it seems communication studies students have met Brule’s high standards and run with them.

Lewis summarizes the atmosphere in the department as one of encouragement, with an underlying challenge for students to distinguish themselves within a broad and competitive field. She says that as students approach the CSCA conference, Brule’s words of encouragement—and warning—are similar to the ones she utters all year long in her office and classrooms. “People will know we’re from Bethel,” she’ll say. “Grad schools will want to recruit us because they want Bethel students.”

Find out more about programs in Bethel’s Department of Communication Studies.