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Alumni Newsletter - May 2021

School of Communication

Our Multimedia Center, drawn by Steven White (Communication ’92), was featured in Virginia Tech’s Daily Doodles in March
Our Multimedia Center, drawn by Steven White ( Communication ’92), was featured in Virginia Tech’s Daily Doodles in March.


Welcome to the School of Communication ’s first alumni newsletter !

As you can imagine, we’ve encountered a number of unprecedented challenges in our first academic year as the School of Communication . The resiliency of our students, faculty, and staff in navigating this new virtual learning world should be commended.

We are proud to announce that more than 200 School of Communication Hokies joined our alumni family after the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences’ two in-person commencement ceremonies in Lane Stadium on May 15. Eight graduate students also earned their master’s degree. Please join us in congratulating these graduates!

We have a number of exciting updates from the School of Communication . Advertising is slated to become the School ’s fifth major during the 2021-2022 academic year. We also hope to offer Advertising, Health Communication , and Strategic Communication as new minors in the upcoming academic year. In our graduate program, the Reputation Management option was launched this fall with six students and joins the Communication option, which has been operating since 2004.

This past application cycle, the School received a record 820 applications for fall 2021 admissions, nearly doubling the number from fall 2020. In its second year as a major, Sports Media and Analytics received nearly 400 applicants for the 50 allotted spots. That popularity made it one of the most competitive majors across the entire university.

We look forward to returning to in-person learning environments in the fall as the School continues its impressive growth. In the meantime, please enjoy these stories and images, which highlight those individuals who represent the excellence emanating from the School .

Robert E. Denton, Jr.
Director, School of Communication

Two students wearing polos standing in front of the stadium.

Sports media and analytics students shine in professional broadcasts

Six student broadcasters made their mark over the first two weekends in March, as they called sporting events for the ACC Network and select radio stations. Their work showcased the continued growth of the sports media and analytics major in the School of Communication .
Read More >

Abigail Darko

Class of 2021: Abigail Darko finds fulfillment in public relations and campus experiences

Inspired by the university’s motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), the School of Communication graduate found many service opportunities both on and off campus. Now part of the Hokie alumni family, she will be joning Bain & Company in Washington, D.C., as a global recruiting associate.
Read More >

Pair of hands being held

School of Communication offers a ‘H.U.G.’ to incoming students

The H.U.G. program, a group of peer mentors, has helped ease the transition into college for first-year students in the School of Communication . Buddy Howell was honored for his work in this program with the Excellence in Teaching First-Year Seminars Award.
Read More >

Beth M. Waggenspack honored with emerita status

A member of the Virginia Tech community since 1984, the associate professor of communication has been recognized as one of the leading authorities on the rhetoric of First Ladies. Read More >

Alumni Spotlights

Neeka Eghbali - Class of 2019

Major: Public Relations

Favorite class at Virginia Tech: Comm Skills with Brandi Quesenberry

Current job title: Account Executive, Merritt Group

Favorite part about current job: “I love the fast-paced environment of PR and the communications field in general. It definitely keeps me on my toes and I feel like I learn something new every day!”

Advice for current students interested in a career in your field: “I would highly recommend joining VT PRSSA – it was a highlight of my college experience. Furthermore, reach out to your Hokie network via LinkedIn to learn about alumni’s experiences and potential opportunities. We’re one big family and love to help a Hokie out!”

Ben Anderson - Class of 2019

Major: Multimedia Journalism

Favorite class at Virginia Tech: Play-by-Play with Bill Roth

Current job title: Assistant Video Coordinator, University of Miami Football

Favorite part about current job: "I love getting to be a part of a major college football program and knowing that the work I put in has a direct impact on the success of this team.”

Advice for current students interested in a career in your field: "Get as much hands on experience as you can. I didn’t even know the job I have now existed until I got involved with HokieVision and the VT Football video department, and that led me to pursue a career out of it!"

Erica Sullivan - Class of 2020

Major: Communication Studies; Minor: Dress, Clothing and Society

Favorite class at Virginia Tech: Media and Society with Professor Mielczarek

Current job titles: CEO & Founder, Low Ultraviolet (L.U.V.); Business Development Representative, ChurnZero

Favorite part about current jobs: “In entrepreneurship, every day is different. I love that I get to be at the forefront of innovation while building a brand with a mission to help #outshineskincancer. For my 9-5 job at ChurnZero, the company culture is unmatched. Our CEO shows complete transparency which is vital as we navigate COVID-19.”

Advice for current students interested in starting their own business: “Utilize Virginia Tech resources while you are still a student. There are resources like the Apex Center for Entrepreneurs ready to help take your business venture from ideation to MVP while you're still on campus. Additionally, take time as a student to build out your network with professors, other students and alumni. You never know where people will be working in 5 years. Hokies love to help Hokies!”

Faculty Highlights

  • Stephanie Smith was promoted to associate professor with tenure after an endorsement from the university promotion and tenure committee.
  • Brandi Quesenberry presented her paper “Emotional Intelligence: It’s more than just a ‘soft skill’” at the Virtual 2021 International Academy of Business Disciplines 32nd Annual Conference. The abstract of the paper was accepted for publication in the academy’s Peer-Reviewed Conference Proceedings.
  • Wat Hopkins received the Best Faculty Paper Award in the Law and Policy Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication for “Times v. Sullivan Revisited: Interment or Resurrection.” The paper was presented at the association’s Southeast Colloquium.
  • Natalia Mielczarek and Wat Hopkins published “Copyright, Transformativeness, and Protection for Internet Memes,” Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly 98.1 (Spring 2021): 37–58.
  • Robin Reed was honored March 13 with “Robin Reed Day” in Roanoke for beginning his 40th year at WDBJ7.
  • Jim A. Kuypers was one of the keynote speakers for the Media in America, America in Media online international conference. He spoke on “ The Destruction of Democracy: American Mainstream News Reportorial Practices Today.”
Thank You

Thank you for participating in Giving Day 2021!

Your generosity makes a huge difference in the life and growth of the School of Communication . Your support recognizes the value of your education, the special talents of our faculty, and the needs of our current and future students.

Giving Day 2021 was the most successful one yet for the School of Communication , as we raised $12,061 from 110 donors. On behalf of the students, faculty, and staff in the School , thank you for joining your fellow Communication Hokies on this special day of giving!

Submit content for the School of Communication newsletter or social media by emailing Cory Van Dyke, Communication Specialist, at