Lucky Streak (A Fictive Thought)

I used to write a lot of fiction and poems. I’ve written novels and screenplays and teleplays. I don’t have as much time for that now, which may explain why my dreams are often filled with stories. Sometimes to scare me; sometimes to soothe me. This bit of prose comes from one of those soothing experiences.

Once upon a time there was a boy.

But this was not a boy like you would think of a boy.

He never ran about to excess, bumping into things, falling down.

He never fidgeted in his seat and cried out when he was not allowed to move.

He never snorted jokes at his friends at his teachers’ expense.

No, this was a boy who liked to sit in his corner of the drab gray and windowless room he and his classmates were forced to sit, hours upon hours, unendingly, to do their learning to pass their pile after pile of tests to get into a proper college and thus lead a proper life.

He sat their comfortably, at peace with his books.

This was a boy who loved to read. And read. And read.

He would read anything. All the time. Any book with printed words he would disappear into his, his heart beating enthusiasm that never appeared on his face. He would be content to always read and never go outside.

Until the time he came upon a tennis court chasing after an erstwhile lightweight novel that the wind had torn from his hand.

He sat transfixed by the machinations of the players, the balls, the court. And he asked, in a small, unused voice, if he could play.

The older boys there — including his classmate, the boy with the blonde hair that constantly fell over his eyes — sniggered but agreed.

And the boy who loved to read and not go outside won.

And he won. And he won. And he won.

Every single match. Against every single player. He won.

And not just tennis. Any sport he was introduced to he won. No matter how complex, no matter how exotic, he won.

Because he read about it. And because in reading so much he could see how it worked after just a brief exposure to it.

Now, the people of the town had long thought him to be autistic or something. His grandmother, his only guardian after the deaths of his parents, chided them all, said he was only shy. But no the doctors, they knew better, and they began calling him a savant.

The people of the town who made money off the town wanted to brand him — not with a physical brand, naturally, but as a money-making attraction to bring attention to this small, seemingly forgotten by modern advancements town. His grandmother bristled at the thought, and just wanted her little lucky streak to enjoy himself.

Because as they all talked and had important discussions, his heart beat with the enthusiasm that before only reading gave him. And his grandmother could see it. Could see the crinkle around his eyes. The slight upturn in his lips.

His heart was beating through.

Calabrese on Why Communication Matters

Dr. Richard Calabrese, the head of the corporate communications program in the Department of Communication Arts and Sciences at Dominican University, has been a professor since the 1970s. And in his nearly fifty years of experience, his wisdom has touched many college students and communication majors. Now, his wisdom can be shared in this new video, produced by Rhetoric and Communication major and Class of 2016 graduate, Axel Vargas-Irlanda.

In this video, Dr. Calabrese reflects on just why communication matters and is a worthwhile course of study and profession for any student, as well as why being a Dominican University student brings them additional benefits their peers at other institutions may not experience.

Student’s Experience with Podcasting

785972Paulina Wojtach, a Psychology major and Social Media minor, took CAS 352 “Convergent Media” this past spring. She went on to complete an internship with Hope for the Day, a non-profit organization devoted to combating and stopping suicide, where she put both her academic interests to work in developing content to reach out to troubled teenagers.

She also completed audio production lessons this summer wherein she produced a podcast, Adaptations, in which she and a co-host discuss several well-known cases of famous books becoming famous movies, such as The Hobbit and Fight Club.

When asked if she would recommend other Dominican University students learn and develop their own podcasts, she replied definitely.

I would definitely recommend others to create a podcast. It is a fun way to talk about something that you enjoy. It was a lot of fun to do record the podcast with another person. Sometimes we would go off script, because we would become really invested in the conversation. Those off script moments were often the most interesting comments within the podcasts, because they were completely natural. 

You can listen to Paulina’s podcast here: http://adaptations.podbean.com.

Paulina is just another of our students who understands why communication matters.

Lambda Pi Eta 2015 Induction Ceremy

Last night, Monday April 6th, the Communication Arts and Sciences department at Dominican University welcomed three bright students to the Lambda Pi Eta communication honors society.

As recognition of their academic success and commitment to communication, Monika Stepkowski (left, Corporate Communicate), Alexandra Chavez (middle, Rhetoric and Communication), and Paulina Pachel (right, Corporate Communication) were all honored with acceptance to this prestigious community.

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Elizabeth Robinson, who was inducted into the society last year, conducted the ceremony.

LPE Induction 2015

Lambda Pi Eta is the National Communication Association’s official honor society for any and all four-year colleges and universities. At Dominican, we have the Sigma Zeta Chapter.

The Lambda Pi Eta shield.
The Lambda Pi Eta shield.

According to the description of the society on its website, and the pledge each inductee reads, the letters of the society represent “what Aristotle described in The Rhetoric as three ingredients of persuasion: logos (Lambda), meaning logic; pathos (Pi), relating to emotion; and ethos (Eta), defined as character credibility and ethics.” Any student of communication learns these valuable traits and skills to better position himself or herself in a world of leadership, dialogue, and activism.

According to its description, the purposes of Lambda Pi Eta go beyond recognizing and awarding academic achievement in communication studies to also “stimulate interest in the field of communication, promote and encourage professional development among communication majors, and provide an opportunity to discuss and exchange ideas in the field of communication.” Being a part of a national organization devoted to the development of communication studies, the honor society seeks to identify young communication scholars and professionals and help them further their endeavors in the field.

Below you can see a slideshow depicting the wonderful induction ceremony.

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Non-CAS Students Discuss #WhyCommunication

Two Dominican University students who are not Communication Arts and Sciences majors graciously sat down with our student, Alfredo Herrera, to give their impressions on why communication matters in their daily lives.

The more we all learn how to communicate better, with ourselves and with others, then the more equipped we will be to make our lives and our world better.

We apologize for the sound quality, but this series of videos is a learning experience for our student, Alfredo, to understand how to better utilize these technologies to produce messages. Alfredo will be reflecting on this learning experience in a later blog post, as well as turning one of the interviews recorded for this video into a blog post, since the audio was unusable.

A Study in Virtual Worlds

This video was produced by Roskilde University, with assistance from Dominican University, to summarize and even illustrate some of the findings from my research study, Virtual Worlds Entertainment.

A virtual world is a three-dimensional digital environment where people are able to interact with one another via avatars. An avatar is some digital representation of that person in this digital environment, and depending on the virtual world, the avatar could be a photo-realistic representation of the person, or it could be a completely fictional, abstract, or just downright odd character.

This is my current avatar in Second Life.
This is my current avatar in Second Life. Note, this is not me in real life.

A virtual world is different from many video and computer games because the world continues on even after any one player disengages, either for the day or forever. A virtual world is persistent, just like our real physical world — when any single person dies in the real world, physical reality does not cease to exist.

You may know these virtual worlds because they are all around us: Disney’s ToonTown, Blizzard’s World of Warcraft, and Linden Lab’s Second Life. These types of worlds will become more frequent as the technologies to produce, distribute, exhibit and use them improve. They are games, they are classrooms, they are churches, they are distant lands, they are forgotten times — they are anything you need them to be, and that is why they are not going away.

Given the importance of such virtual worlds in people’s lives and thus our real world, the goal of the study was to understand how people make sense of engaging with a virtual world, and to compare this sense-making to how they engage with other entertainment media, such as films and video games. In this video I discuss the study, what was learned, and what others can learn from it.

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if you are interested in doing research on virtual worlds here at Dominican University.

My Time in a Hollywood Agency

I graduated from college in May 2000 with a degree in psychology and a degree in communication arts from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. To earn my communication arts degree, I had to write a 30 minute screenplay (that luckily got picked to be produced by a class famed horror director and UW-Madison alum Stuart Gordon taught) and I had to produce two short films. My communication arts degree led me to understand the importance of communication in shaping our lives and our world, and I wanted to use the degree to tell stories. My psychology degree helped me understand people and how they worked, which I felt was going to help me to tell these stories. I wanted to write movie scripts, direct movies, edit movies and be one of the shining stars in the cinema firmament.

I think a lot of people who major in media and communication feel that way. I grew up being fascinated by stories, in television, books, films and comic books. My parents like to joke that they made me watch Poltergeist at a young age just to make me afraid of the television set (“They’re here!”). I wrote my first television scripts in high school (for The X-Files and Frasier, back before fan fiction was the big thing it is now), and I tried writing comic books for my fellow Dungeons and Dragons playing friends (I even tried to design a role-playing game — that didn’t go well — mostly because it was about impressing a boy I had a crush on). I have written movie scripts, a mini-series about the Peshtigo Fire, poems, short stories and full length novels.

Stories have always fascinated me.

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