Category Archives: SOC News

2012 Visiting Scholar: Robin Bronk, CEO of The Creative Coalition

robin bronk

The School of Communication recently welcomed Robin Bronk, CEO of The Creative Coalition, as its fall 2012 Visiting Scholar.

Bronk was in Greenville from Oct. 23 – 26 as a guest of the School of Communication. She served as the keynote speaker for the School’s Annual High School Media Workshop on Oct. 25, as well as a guest presenter in select public relations classes. Bronk also spoke at a community event at Emerge Art Gallery in Greenville on Oct. 25.

Robin Bronk is Chief Executive Officer of The Creative Coalition–the leading national, nonprofit, nonpartisan social and public advocacy organization of the arts and entertainment industry. As CEO, Bronk is dedicated to educating, mobilizing, and activating the entertainment industry and arts community on issues of public importance, particularly the First Amendment, arts advocacy, arts in education, and media literacy. Since being appointed to the position in April 2010, she has exponentially grown The Creative Coalition’s operating budget by designing and instituting corporate sponsorship programs and cause marketing opportunities.

To learn more about Robin Bronk and The Creative Coalition, visit

John Cooper ’89 Presented Distinguished Alumnus Award

John Cooper

John Cooper, who earned his Communication degree at East Carolina University in 1989, was given the School of Communication’s Distinguished Alumnus Award at a reception Saturday evening, April 21.

Cooper, Deputy Manager of the Live Desk at NBC News Channel in Charlotte, has worked at the NBC news service for more than 20 years. NBC News Channel distributes national and international video news stories to NBC stations around the country. At the Live Desk, Cooper acts as a producer for field reporters.

Last fall, Cooper visited ECU to be the keynote speaker for the fourth annual High School Media Workshop, which the North Carolina Scholastic Media Association co-sponsored.

“John Cooper has been an outstanding supporter of the School of Communication for a number of years, and we are delighted to recognize his significant contributions by giving him the Distinguished Alumnus Award,” said Dr. Linda Kean, director of the School of Communication.

The 6th Annual Spring Reception is organized by CommCrew, the School of Communication’s alumni and supporters’ organization.

Fulbright Scholar Reflects on Unique Experience in Berlin

Rachel Castro

By Lexi Taylor
School of Communication Intern Spring 2012

Danke. This simple word means “thank you” in German, but to East Carolina University senior Rachel Castro, it signifies a lifetime experience.

Castro was one of 15 young journalists chosen to participate in the German-American Fulbright Commission’s Berlin Capital Program in Berlin, Germany, in December. The Fulbright program is a chance for students and young professionals in the United States to earn merit-based scholarships to study in other countries.

As the only participant selected from the state of North Carolina, Castro jumped at the chance to pursue her dream of studying abroad.

“One of my greatest ambitions is to continue traveling,” Castro said.

Castro found out about this opportunity while taking a summer session journalism course in the School of Communication with ECU professor Dr. Cindy Elmore, who participated in a Fulbright during her career.

“Rachel is a truly amazing writer,” said Elmore. “I was happy to have the opportunity to recommend her.”

While in Berlin, Castro was given an in-depth look into German news and media. She participated in two to four seminars daily on topics such as “How to be a Good Journalist” and  “Germany’s Identity in European Media.” The group was given a tour of prominent political and news structures including the German Parliament and many publishing houses. These visits allowed Castro the opportunity to experience the difference in European and American news and media.

Along with the educational experiences, Castro got a closer look into Germany’s everyday culture. She was able to enjoy one of Germany’s favorite pastimes — eating bratwurst and schnitzel. She also had the opportunity to visit the Christmas markets that are only around for about a month during the holiday season. She was able try food there and buy small, handmade gifts, as well.

On the last day of the program, the group members were allowed a free day to tour the city on their own. This was Castro’s favorite day because she was able to walk the Berlin Wall.

“That was definitely my favorite part of the trip,” she said. “It was such an amazing experience to be able to walk along such a historic site.”

Even though Castro has returned home, she still keeps in contact with the other accomplished young professionals she shared her journey with. They talk frequently through emails and a Facebook group.

To Castro, the program was more than just another item to add to her resume, it was a step closer in her pursuit of studying and writing abroad. Rachel currently works as a staff writer at the ECU News Bureau and recently acquired a position as an ESL teacher with the ECU Language Academy. This new job will prepare Castro for next fall, as she ventures back to Europe to teach English for the year.

“My top choice is Budapest, Hungary,” Castro said. “However, I am just thrilled to continue my travels.”

Pirate Alum Soaring in Germany

Joel Banjo-Johnson

Like a lot of basketball fans, Joel Banjo-Johnson was looking forward to the opening tipoff of the NCAA basketball season Nov. 9 when UCONN and Michigan State faced off at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany. She was looking forward to it more than most however, as this 2009 East Carolina University Magna Cum Laude graduate, assisted with the planning of the game.

The game aired live on ESPN and ESPN2. Banjo-Johnson, currently the acting Chief of Public Affairs at the base, said it took five months to plan but the event was a success. She is pictured here, about an hour before Sports Center was going to air live.

“I definitely had a lot of fun and all the interviews and coverage turned out well. Everyone learned a little about what we do at Ramstein Air Base,” Banjo-Johnson said. “I’m grateful for these different experiences. I’m completely exhausted afterward but excited as it’s going on. I learned a lot about production behind the scenes and programming.”

Banjo-Johnson said now that her major is deployed she has taken over the position. “I now am the Chief of Public Affairs for the largest wing in the entire Air Force. It’s certainly a challenge but I’m doing well. Hope all is well in Pirate country!”

School of Communication Faculty Participate in Service-Learning ‘Immersion’

The School of Communication showed that students are not the only ones who live by the East Carolina University motto ‘servire.’ Dr. Rebecca Dumlao, associate professor of communication and chair of the University Service-Learning Committee, recently organized the 9th Annual ECU Conference on Service-Learning at ECU.

The event included a ‘Service-Learning Immersion’ at the Eastern North Carolina Food Bank in Greenville. Dumlao, along with fellow faculty member Mike Cavannagh, received a hands-on experience of what students do at the food bank, including sorting cans.

“We had to go through and sort the sweet potato cans and decide which ones needed to be thrown out,” Dumlao said. “We went through an entire flat.”

Following the event at the food bank, the group held a discussion on how to connect the work they did to classroom theories.

“Service-Learning is a chance for students to reflect on how they saw theories from class in action or how they saw them not working,” Dumlao said.

The three-day event featured key speakers: Dr. Patti Clayton, senior scholar with the Center for Service and Learning at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and visiting fellow with the New England Resource Center for Higher Education; Dr. Barbara Jacoby, faculty associate for Leadership Community Service-Learning at the Adele H. Stamp Student Union-Center for Campus Life at the University of Maryland, College Park.

ECU’s School of Communication Hosts Distinguished Health Communication Scholar

To help celebrate the school’s five-year anniversary of its master’s in health communication degree, Dr. Gary Kreps, an innovator in health communication and Visiting Scholar at the ECU School of Communication, spoke about the importance of scholarship in the growing field in a public lecture on October 26.

Kreps gave his lecture, “Communication and the Continuum of Care: A Mandate for Health Communication Scholarship,” at the East Carolina Heart Institute. The ECU School of Communication was presenting Kreps’ lecture in conjunction with the ECU Brody School of Medicine Department of Public Health Grand Rounds.

Kreps has been working in health communication since its early days in the 1970s. Health communication includes doctors discussing care with patients, governments advising the public on health issues and societies working to ensure that diverse populations learn about how to stay healthy.

“Increasingly my own work is focusing on reducing health disparities for vulnerable and at-risk populations both domestically and internationally,” said Kreps, whose research projects have earned external grant awards totaling more than $31 million.

In addition to his lecture, Kreps met with several School of Communication and Department of Health Education and Promotion classes over three days of his visit.

Kreps’ visit helped the School of Communication mark the fifth anniversary of the Master of Arts degree in Communication with an emphasis in health. A celebratory reception was held at the Heart Institute following the public lecture.

School of Communication professor, John Howard, receives UNC Board of Govenors’ Excellence in Teaching Award

John Howard

An associate professor of communication at East Carolina University is among 17 faculty members in the University of North Carolina system to receive an award for Excellence in Teaching.

John Howard, who teaches undergraduate courses in organizational communication, persuasion and argumentation, along with graduate courses in social media influence, will be awarded $7,500 in cash and a bronze medallion. A member of the UNC Board of Governors will present Howard with the award during spring commencement May 6.

“Dr. Howard is an expert at getting his students to engage with the topic and think about the impact of communication in all aspects of their lives,” said Linda Kean, director of the School of Communication. “He engages the students in critical thinking on topics such as employer-employee communication, creating persuasive messages in the media, and how relationships are developed, maintained and destroyed through communication.”

Kean said many students with only a passing interest in communication have been drawn to the field by Howard’s teaching. “Dr. Howard has taught our introductory communication course and is responsible for taking students with a fleeting interest in the area and transforming them into some of our strongest majors,” she said.

Howard has taught at ECU since August 2003. He holds doctoral and master’s degrees in communication studies and interpersonal communication from Bowling Green State University, a master’s in public policy analysis from the University of Rochester and a bachelor’s in political science from the State University of New York, Binghamton.

His research interests include how the media portray war, soldiers and gender and communication between pilots and air traffic controllers. His work has appeared in Women & Language, Communications Research and Women’s Studies in Communication.

The UNC Board of Governors established the Excellence in Teaching Awards in 1994 to reward good teaching across the university. Each year one award goes to a tenured faculty member from each UNC campus.

Two [SOC] Alumnae Find Success Building Their Own Savvy PR Company

Jamie Sigler and Sarah Evans

When two Pirates and best friends packed up their bags, loaded their cars and headed to the West Coast for a warm-weather adventure shortly after graduating, they never imagined that it would lead them to where they are today.

These two alumnae, Jamie Sigler and Sarah Evans, are now the co-founding partner and managing partner, respectively, of J Public Relations, one of the top luxury hospitality and lifestyles public relations firms in the country.

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