Communication and Media Major Portfolio

Hi! Welcome to my major portfolio, where I will unpack the projects and materials I have learned over the course of my four year program to receive my BA in Communication and Media Studies. But first, I want to reflect on what I have taken away from these four years.

I see my position within the discipline to reflect my commitment and dedication to contributing towards an effective and clear connection with others no matter geographic location, demographics, or differences. I first became interested in studying communication so that I could help be an advocate for others by communicating clearly, empathetically, and efficiently. Not only have I learned how to communicate professionally, but I have learned about interpersonal communication, mass communication, political communication, nonverbal communication, communication about gender and equality, crisis communication, public relations, health communication, communication research methods, and so much more. For instance, I was not aware of the amount of social science experiments in the field of communication on topics that dip into gender studies, patient care, the effects of media on our cognition, and more. Entering this discipline as an 18 year old, I wouldn’t have guessed so many of these topics had a home within communication and media. I would have thought many of these topics were home to psychology scholars, medical scholars, or sociologists. While I have a deep appreciation and enthusiasm for this discovery and passion within the discipline, I have to say one of the skills I gained that impacted me the most in my personal and professional life would be my verbal communication, participation, and assertiveness. Entering college, I was shy, anxious, and quiet. I did not feel very comfortable at all to raise my hand in class, let alone stand in front of my classmates and present a project. I am not perfect, but I have come a long way with my confidence in my communication skills. I have pushed myself to explore topics of study that I am interested in and passionate about, I have learned how to express my work ethic and dedication by taking initiative and daring myself to think outside the box and aim my goals for myself high. And most importantly, I have learned to reach and achieve these high goals.

I concentrated my studies on the media perspective of the discipline, however, my topics of research have dipped into the communication perspective a bit at times as well. I have been most interested in areas of study surrounding gender in media, and health communication related topics. I have enjoyed studying these two topics because I find them abundantly significant in daily communication and media engagement, and are areas of study that pertain to my interests. For example, I have examined the role of gender in the context of rock and roll media, my personal favorite genre of music, for the past two years. I have also spent a considerable amount of time examining health in communication and media, health in a family context, an interpersonal context, a professional context, and how we engage with the topic in media examples. I studied these topics from a social scientific perspective, typically engaging with qualitative materials and methods. My major pushed me in many academic directions during my time as a student at St. Norbert College, but it also pushed me towards experiences outside of the classroom, including various campus jobs and internships.

I became a tour guide for St. Norbert Admissions and gave tours to prospective students, hosted students who shadowed my communication classes, and communicated with students post-tour about the SNC experience. I never would have had the confidence or skills to acquire this position without pursuing the communication and media department my freshman year. As someone who would freeze when tasked with public speaking (even to just a small group) this was the first of many important steps in my academic and professional journey. Additionally, I worked for three years in the campus Writing Center as a writing tutor and writing consultant. Like my tour guide position, it was vital to have clear and precise communication skills in order to effectively answer questions, make suggestions, and help students boost their writing confidence when needed. These experiences led me to the opportunity to work as a content creator intern for Baer Performance Marketing in Green Bay, Wisconsin during the summer of 2022. There, I learned to create copywrite, conduct research on client services both local and national, create social media posts and blog posts, work with analytics, and more. During my time as an intern for Baer I realized how much I enjoyed the work and was passionate about creating copywrite for work. I hope to go into marketing and work as a copywriter or media journalist after graduation. My dream job would be to work as a music journalist for a rock or alternative rock music media company. But for now, I hope to work at a marketing company helping brainstorm creative, innovative, and fueling content for clients using my writing and visual communication skills.

With that, I welcome you to dive into my collection of work. Enjoy!

The very first project I created as a communication and media major was a genre analysis of horror films in the spring of 2020. I chose to create a genre analysis inspired by my passion for the one genre I always am interested in watching; horror. Haunting Our Own Heads was a exploration of the history of horror films, why we ‘can’t look away’, the history of fear as a source of entertainment, and a brief analysis of contemporary horror films. This project was assigned in Mass Communication, and was required to take the format of an infographic that students were then meant to present to the class (both classmates and professor) in a walk-through display of everyone’s infographic presentation.

One of the first written pieces of work I was assigned as a communication and media major was for a course on interpersonal communication that I took during the fall of 2020. This was also the first instance of my interest in healthcare combining with my passion for my major. I was tasked with finding an article that examines a specific type of interpersonal communication, and writing up an annotated bibliography for it. The relationship between a healthcare professional and a patient is a critical part of finding a diagnosis and treatment for patients with chronic health issues. My main objective was to accurately describe the findings of a study that examined these relationships and clearly articulate the importance of communication between patient-professional relationships in order to find treatment that is effective for the patient. My intended audience at the time was my professor, the project was not assigned as a presentation or to be represented visually, so the project started and ended with a written document.

My sophomore year, I took a crisis communication course over the J-term. The course was an intense, three week course that covered the amount of material a regular semester would. One of our largest assignments during the three weeks was a critical research paper on a recent example of a crisis and how it was handled. Luckily for me, I took this course at the very start of 2021 and arguably one of the largest political crises the United States had seen in a while was unfolding right before my eyes when the essay project was assigned. And this event was non other than the attack on the Capitol on January 6th. This paper may be controversial, but it is incredibly important to analyze how the events of January 6th and the days leading up to it unfolded and how it has been handled by political parties since. Given the topic and the short amount of time we had for this essay, my intended audience was solely my professor. However, my intentions were just as strong as they would be had I been writing this essay with a large intended audience. I hoped to have captured a thorough enough analysis of what the media was telling the United States at the time, and demonstrate to whoever read it the complications and severity of how to publicly address the storm of intruders in the Capitol.

Another piece I wrote about health communication was for a health communication course that I took during the spring of 2021. For our final, in lieu of a final exam, we were instructed to write a social-scientific research paper focusing on one health organization (chosen from a list provided to us) and the information/campaign they had on COVID-19. This essay was another paper that just my professor saw, but I wrote it keeping in mind a larger audience of families, particularly with people who had an increased risk for getting COVID-19. My main objective was to break down the information into helpful chunks that described the main points of their campaign #HealthyAtHome for families with young children, elderly people, and people who are at a greater risk for contracting COVID because of other underlying issues. I examined the different resources that the WHO website featured under their campaign such as infographics, informative articles, FAQ and suggestions, and more.

The fall semester of 2021 I was enrolled in a writing for media course that taught me the ropes of writing professionally for journalism . During the course of the semester, students were required to choose a local non-profit organization to be our point of topic and to create “press releases” for, among other media exercises. One of my favorite assignments from the course was an essay I wrote for the non-profit organization I chose to “represent”: Happily Ever After (HEA). HEA is a local non-profit no-kill animal shelter, and at the time, they had recently been featured in an award-winning independent documentary on the environment, animals, and community. My main objective for this essay was to summarize the philosophy of HEA and how it connected to the documentary they were featured in which had a lot to say about local communities. I was tasked with writing a mass media-geared piece that analyzed and broke down the main message about how an animal shelter can be a refection of the health of a community. I hoped this essay would read as a reflective passion piece about the bond between people and animals and how that actually greatly impacts the surrounding community and comments on the values of the community. Therefore, my intended audience was the greater Green Bay area, but ultimately, since this was just a writing assignment, only my professor read it. I have used this as a writing sample for internship and job applications, and has helped me land interviews and positions.

Another piece I created for the writing for media course was the result of an assignment that required we create an advertisement poster to accompany the writing were were working on. Sticking with Happily Ever After, my intended audience was the SNC community since a part of what we were being assessed on was creating a poster that would fit in on campus and catch the eye and attention of students, staff, and faculty. I wanted the main objective of the poster to represent compassion, by including the shelter’s boilerplate and visuals that would compliment the tone of HEA.

Also during the fall semester of 2021, I took Gender and Media as an elective course for my major. It was in this class that I discovered my interest in and for gender studies as it pertains to communication and media. Particularly, I found my niche topic (that I would end up exploring further during my senior year as my capstone project). That topic is the role and representation of women within the alternative rock and roll music industry. As a widely male-dominated industry, I was interested in examining the lyrics and media image of 20 different female-fronted alternative rock bands/musicians. I was particularly looking at their social media presence and what kind of image they were presenting to the masses, and then critically analyzing the lyrics of their songs for indications and references to their experience as woman in the music industry. My intended audience was my class, we created these posters summarizing the research we conducted and kept track of over the course of the semester via a class blog, and as our final we presented our posters to classmates and our professor during a walk-around presentation. As a lover of all things rock and roll, I found this project served as both a school project that fed my senior portfolio, but also a passion project in which I was able to learn lots of new and fascinating information on a topic I am interested in within my personal life.

Another infographic I created as an assignment looking at representation in Netflix original movies is above “It’s All About the Main Character”. This was created for another course I took over J-term in 2022 about Netflix media specifically. The objective was to create a visual representation of findings concerning the representation of different groups of people (or the lack of representation) in Netflix original films using methods of my own ideas. For this project, I was particularly concerned with the representation of non-white females in Netflix original movies that are targeted at teens and young adults. Although we are seeing an increase of female main characters in the media, the majority of examples are white, straight, able-bodied females. I was interested in examining and critically analyzing what kinds of female representation was present in some of the top rated young-adult films on Netflix. Ideally, my target audience would be other students, between high school and college ages, but realistically, my audience was my professor and classmates who were in the same class as me.

As my final assessment for the same J-term class on Netflix media (January 2022) I created another critical analysis infographic summarizing the most significant findings concerning content, production, and consumption of Netflix originals. My audience for this infographic was my professor, as it took the place of a final exam. However, I created the infographic keeping in mind that my target audience would be teens and adults that have Netflix subscriptions. I could see this infographic being posted in public places that see a lot of traffic, because the demand of the Netflix consumer greatly impacts and reflects the representation we see on platforms like Netflix.

A topic I returned to several times throughout my time at St. Norbert were various forms of health communication and media. Healthcare communication is vital in the medical community, it can be hard for healthcare professionals to explain difficult diagnoses to people, especially when the patients have limited health knowledge. Beyond the healthcare setting, communicating about health within families, interpersonal relationships, and in the mass media is also a very important yet often difficult topic. While taking Family Communication in the fall semester of 2022, we were assigned a semester-long social-scientific research project to create an infographic for by the end of the semester. The objective of the project was to choose a specific family relationship and topic to conduct research on and condense the main findings into an organized infographic that we would tailor to our audience; the family dynamic/relationship we were examining. It was vital that the infographic not be overbearing, it was supposed to be eye-catching and informative for families of all kinds. I enjoyed getting to further explore the domain of healthcare communication through a family lens, especially given it’s delicate and sensitive nature as point of a very significant and necessary conversation.

A “behind the scenes” part of the Illness in the Context of Health Communication infographic I created was the in-depth social-scientific annotated bibliography I relied on for constructing my final summarization of information. I spent a good couple of weeks during the fall semester of 2022 gathering my articles, reading through them, and writing up my annotations. This project was incredibly interesting to me because I understand how important it is to have communication with family members when facing a medical crisis, however, it was also emotionally intense to work through. Many of the topics were difficult to read because they address the good, bad, and the ugly of discussing illness, death, and dying with your family and loved ones. Fortunately, my professor was my only intended audience as I worked through annotating these articles so that I could decipher what I felt was most important to condense into an infographic. Despite the challenges of this assignment, I was happy with the results it produced, given that it’s objective was to gather all the information I could possibly want to use in my infographic into one place.

Lastly, I am including my longest yet piece of work that I have completed so far for my major: my annotated bibliography for my senior capstone class (spring 2023). It makes sense that this is my lengthiest document yet, as it is the social-scientific research I have collected for the first half of the semester to be used in my research proposal paper that I am completing as my final for my capstone. My topic of research branches off of the poster project I created in the fall of 2021 for my gender and media course. I was so interested in the work I did for my poster project, Fierce Femininity, I wanted to piggyback where I left off and create a proposal for research examining the female experience in the alternative rock and roll music industry further. Ideally, I would have loved to do an original research project and get to interview or survey women that work or have worked within the industry. Unfortunately, I don’t have the name or ability to get the attention of musicians who would be willing to participate in my research (although I did certainly try, figuring I had nothing to lose). I ended up scouring the Mulva Library database for eight articles that related to my topic of study and provided insight into the industry I am interested in. I collected all my annotations and key takeaways into this document so I would have an organized space to return to as I started drafting my research proposal essay. As of May 1, 2023, my final proposal is still in the works, however it will be finished by May 11. Up until posting to this page, my intended audience for this collection of annotations has only been my capstone professor. The research I did that is represented in the document has served me well in the process of drafting my final proposal, and has been incredibly fun and interesting to dive into as I work on this passion project that will mark the end of my college career.

About Me

Em is a communication and media major with a minor in studio art at St. Norbert College. She is a senior consultant at the Writing Center and manages social media for the Kress Inn. Em’s accomplishments at SNC include a variety of experiences. Among most notable are her summer internship at Baer Performance Marketing in Green Bay, multiple accepted pieces in the student juried art show on campus, as well as several Graphos publications. For her senior capstone, Em’s interest in gender equality and love for rock music resulted in a research proposal examining the experience of women in the alternative rock industry. Her advisor is Dr. Anna Antos.