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CCI Goes to Washington

by Drew Streip (JEM/’10)

CCI’s Diversity Student Leaders Society (DSLS) and the Communication Studies Club sent eager groups of students to Washington, D.C. this spring to meet with prominent national communicators.

DC group

The inaugural four-day DSLS trip included visits with representatives from the offices of Senator Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, C-SPAN, Fox News, Microsoft, North Bridge Communications, The Washington Post and the World Bank.

DSLS students received a wealth of career advice and information about the communications industry from everyone with whom they met, including CCI alums Beldina Auma, Pat Butler, Laura Herzog and Ed Ingle.   

Alice Wirth, DSLS director and lecturer in the School of Communication Studies, organized and chaperoned the trip, along with her husband, CCI Dean Mike Wirth, and CCI Director of Technology John McNair. According to Alice Wirth speakers stressed the fact that, “In order make it in this competitive world, you have to develop a strong set of skills, work hard and go beyond the call of duty.”  

Thanks to the networking opportunities of this “life-changing experience,” one student received an immediate benefit by obtaining a paid internship in California. Wirth says that next year she hopes to take the group on two trips, “a short visit to Atlanta, along with a longer trip to either Chicago or D.C.”

girls with CNN hatsWirth, who has directed the program since its beginning three years ago, eventually wants to have one of the largest, most successful collegiate diversity programs in the nation. She says her goal, and the goal of Dean Wirth, is to teach civility and respect for all individuals and to prepare students for the global workplace.

Together, they want CCI DSLS students to set an example for the rest of the university. “Diversity is not a black and white thing, nor is it limited to minorities and women” she says. “Diversity is not divisiveness. It is intentionally inclusive of everyone.”

Just two weeks before the DSLS trip, students from the Communication Studies Club traveled to D.C. on their annual trip to meet with national-level public affairs professionals and distinguished CCI alumni.

The itinerary included sessions with the Legislative Relations Group for Toyota North America, Jefferson Consulting Group, Senator Alexander’s office, Congressman Duncan’s office, Congressman Roe’s office, the Embassy of Australia, and a tour of the White House. They also met with Global Event Partners, the largest special events firm in Washington and the firm responsible for the inaugural ball. In addition, several communication studies alumni now affiliated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Association of Retailers and the Department of Education met with the students to discuss career options.

The annual trip is organized by John Haas, director of the School of Communication Studies, and Dean Rice, lecturer in the School of Communication Studies and a member of CCI’s Board of Visitors both of whom accompanied the students to D.C. Haas says the trip was designed to support the academic activities of communications studies’ students and had a very significant impact on their career aspirations.

One of the highlights of the trip was the session at Toyota. Because Toyota was under fire for possible manufacturing problems at the time, students were able to experience a real life case study as it was unfolding. “It was really a lesson in Crisis Communication 101,” said Haas.