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Comm Studies Students Visit DC

Fifteen undergraduate communication studies students and three graduate assistants made the annual trip to Washington, DC, February 25 – March 2. The trip was partially funded by a VOLStarter campaign, which raised almost $1,500. The group was led by John Haas, director of the School of Communication Studies and Dean Rice (BA/CS ‘94), chief of staff to Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and CS lecturer.
The goal of the annual trip is to expand students’ knowledge of internship and job opportunities and to help them network with key experts in the nation’s capital.
Students with Senators Alexander and CorkerThis year’s trip included sessions with: the US Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, US Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, Tennessee Congressman Phil Roe, and Zelos Strategic Planning and Performance Measurement.
The students also took tours of the memorials/monuments, the Smithsonian Museum, the Newseum, the US Capital, and the US Supreme Court.
The students were hosted by the following Communication Studies alumni:

  • Stacia Couch Aylward (MS/C&I ’06), chief executive officer, Zelos Strategic Planning & Performance Measurement
  • Greg Dowell (BA/CS ’13), staff assistant, U.S. House of Representatives, President of Tennessee Society
  • Nikki Sexton Estridge (BA/CS ’04), actor, CELGENE – Inflammation & Immunology Sales Specialist
  • De’Marcus Finnell (BA/CS ’14), staff assistant at the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship
  • Tiffany McGuffee Haverly (BA/CS ’08), communications director, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
  • Chelsea Ivens (’12 – CS minor), manager – government relations, CoreCivic
  • Christian Marin (BA/CS ’08), Central Intelligence Agency
  • MacKenzie Morales (BA/CS ’16), staff assistant, Lewis-Burke Associates

DC students on tourThe students and faculty are also grateful to the following hosts:

  • US Senator Lamar Alexander
  • US Senator Bob Corker
  • Dominic Manecke, communications director, Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH)
  • Ryan Merkel, senior manager-individual giving, Newseum
  • Ms. Andie Pivarunas, senior manager-advocacy communications, American Academy of Dermatology
  • Ms. Caroline Ponseti, press secretary, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs – Majority Office
  • Elaine Wilson Stern, director of government relations, The Foreign Policy Initiative
  • Colin Wilhelm, congressional reporter, POLITICO

“It is gratifying to see students enrich their knowledge and understanding of communications by participating in this annual trip,” said Haas. “I challenge all alumni who participated in this trip in past years to help fund future trips.” Contributions to the annual trip can be made by contacting CCI Director of Development Mark Geller at