Department of Communication Studies

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Hear from Former CMST Students

Are you a former CMST student who’d like to share your story? Let us know!


Quincie Li
Communication Studies, 2016

I currently work as a Television Literary Assistant at ICM Partners, which is an overly formal way of saying that I answer phones and schedule meetings for my boss in the hopes of one day becoming a TV development executive. (TV execs are the people who buy ideas that then turn into scripts that then turn into episodes that then turn into the show you’re currently binge-watching on Netflix.) Had I not stumbled into a special topics CMST course my freshman year, a class called “Rhetoric of Television,” I would not have known that I wanted to work in television. Majoring in Communication Studies taught me that communication, at its best, holds the unparalleled power to make us more empathetic. It bridges gaps across generations and cultures. That understanding motivates me professionally, and it gets me through grueling 12 hour work days. Plus, if it weren’t for this department, I’d be a far less engaged and self-aware person today…with way fewer fun facts about presidential speeches! I feel so grateful for the enriching academic experience I had at Vanderbilt. To the best professors, classmates, and department–thank you.


Amanda Marcotullio
Communication Studies and HOD, 2016

I am currently a Marketing Coordinator at ESPN in New York City. I coordinate the brand strategy, creative development, and execution of all marketing campaigns for SportsCenter and ESPN’s other studio shows. I found my passion for media and the influence that its messages can have on society and culture through Communication Studies. Every day I apply what I learned in order to think through the way we communicate our brands to consumers in today’s changing media landscape.


Matt Harper
Communication Studies, 2015

I am a financial planning & analysis (FP&A) manager at Restaurant Brands International (RBI), the parent company of the BURGER KING® and TIM HORTONS® brands. In my role, I lead a small team to manage approx. $190 million in compensation and benefits spending globally. Though the connection to Communication Studies may not be obvious, I think about argument theory every day in my job. The same logic applies to explaining a multi-million budget variance as constructing a cogent argument for a paper or debate. I’ve become not only the go-to communications person in my department (for company-wide emails, important presentations, and the like), but also one of the leading analytical workers in my class, in part due to the manner of thinking that true rhetorical analysis demands.


Tierra Johnson
Communication Studies and English, 2015

Currently, I work as a Social Media Coordinator at A+E Networks in New York City, specifically for A&E and HISTORY. My program at A+E is a two-year program where participants rotate through two different departments, including Social Media, Programming, Marketing, Talent Relations, etc. I found this to be a good way for me to get a better feel for entertainment, after previously working in news as an Assignment Editor in Memphis, TN. Through majoring in Communication Studies, I found a passion for media and a love for analyzing movies, television shows, articles, social media, and more. It thrills me to understand media and its ability to affect what we think, how we think, and when we think about our identities and society as a whole. As a Social Media Coordinator, it’s important to note that one description, post, or sentence about a show or brand can completely alter the way audiences view it – for better or for worse. With the proper attention, a few words can turn into a lasting and meaningful memory. The ability to critically think about media and analyze its potential to affect its audiences is a skill that carried its way through all of my CMST courses.


Steven Ringel
Communication Studies, 2015

In my current role as an Associate Consultant at Bain & Co., I use what I learned in Communication Studies classrooms every day. Building client relationships is a key part of my job at Bain, and the interpersonal communication skills I gained in my CMST courses help me do this successfully. The analytical skills taught in classes such as Argumentation and Debate help me problem solve and devise strategies that help my clients become leaders in their industries. In addition, the opportunity to speak publicly in class and at events such as the semi-annual department sponsored Frank K. Houston Speech Competition has given me the confidence and ability to effectively articulate my thoughts in daily team meetings and executive level presentations. I would recommend the Communication Studies major to students who want learn how to critically engage in dialogues and careers that shape change across a spectrum of industries.


Hope Tone
Communication Studies and History, 2015

I am currently a second year law student at Notre Dame Law School. I plan on practicing litigation in Chicago. At Notre Dame, I serve as the president of the Notre Dame Moot Court Board. Next spring, I will have the privilege of presenting oral argument in front of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. My undergraduate degree made my success at Notre Dame possible, because the professors in the Communication Studies department helped me develop strong persuasive writing and speaking skills. As an undergraduate, my rhetoric classes improved the substance of my speech and my public speaking classes improved my style. My degree has set me on the path to be an effective advocate for my future clients.


Luke Anapolis
Communication Studies and Philosophy, 2014

I chose to major in Communication Studies as I wanted to immerse myself in a discipline that was challenging and exciting, but one that would also prepare me with transferable job skills. The CMST major is interdisciplinary in its nature, helping you with public speaking, rhetorical analysis, and cultural theory, also exposing you to disciplines such as history, philosophy, film and media studies, and women and gender studies. Beyond the classroom, graduates of the CMST department leave with a toolkit of transferable skills that include oral and written communication, analytical thinking, and problem solving. These desirable skills paired with internship experiences, helped me stand out to recruiters during my job search. I was hired out of college by Google as a marketing consultant, where I helped digital advertising agencies find success with Google products and have since moved into an internal project management role. The knowledge and skills I gained from my CMST degree are put to use every day, and as a result have helped me grow my career.


Cierra Lockett
Communication Studies and Psychology, 2014

I am currently a graduate student at Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television in the Writing & Producing for TV MFA program. My goal is to become a television writer, as I write stories that capture the voices and experiences of women and people of color. Earning a Communication Studies degree taught me to think critically about media’s influence on society and culture, and rhetoric’s power to create change. I’m grateful that I learned how to see the world through different perspectives, and that I can confidently reshape the lens through which others do as well.


Jacqueline Miller
Communication Studies, 2014

I currently work as a research associate at the Education Advisory Board, a higher education research firm in Washington, DC. In this role, I interview, research, and answer questions for universities and community colleges about issues they’re experiencing on campus. My major in Communication Studies provided me with essential research, writing, and public speaking experience that I have applied to this role as well as the other two positions I’ve held since graduation. Additionally, studying rhetoric and persuasion provided me with insight about the power of language that I apply when I write reports and communicate with executives. Lastly, I love that in addition to preparing me for the professional world, my CMST major enabled me to study one of my favorite subjects—U.S. history—and learn how to view modern day media with a more informed and analytical perspective.


Kristen Mosley
Communication Studies & Education Studies, 2014

I am currently a Dean at Uplift Pinnacle Preparatory, a K-5 primary school in Dallas. After majoring in Communication Studies and Educational Studies, I was accepted to the 2014 Dallas-Fort Worth Teach For America Corps. I have taught first grade, served as a content teacher leader for my district, served as an Intervention Specialist for 3rd-5th grade scholars, and I now lead a campus of 40 instructional staff and 600 scholars as PYP Dean of Instruction. Along the way, I have also studied as a graduate student at Southern Methodist University and will earn my Master of Education in May. From teaching primary scholars how to become strong communicators, partnering with families of varied backgrounds, leading a group of diverse adults and completing graduate coursework, my Communication Studies degree has proven itself invaluable. I am grateful for the experiences the CMST major provided in analyzing, creating, and delivering speeches, as well as identifying and critiquing messages across a variety of contexts and genres.


Jennifer Berger
Communication Studies, 2013

I am currently the Director of Sales at Slice, a NYC-based technology startup that empowers local and independent pizzerias nationwide to compete with “Big Pizza” chains, through online ordering technology. In this role, I am responsible for direct selling to restaurants, as well as leading a team of salespeople through coaching and trainings to hit our team goals. The CMST degree I received from Vanderbilt taught me invaluable public speaking skills and comfortability presenting in front of a large group, which has directly translated to my success in phone sales and sales leadership. Specifically, the CMST courses on rhetoric helped be to become a strategic thinker, analyzer, and heightened my skills in professional writing, all of which have helped me grow in my professional career.


Ariel Kanter
Communication Studies, 2013

I am currently working at American Express as a Digital Marketing Senior Analyst for Plenti, the US’s first loyalty coalition. Plenti lets its millions of members earn and redeem rewards from a network of partner companies like Macy’s, Rite Aid, Exxon Mobil, Chili’s, and more. In my role, I own the end-to-end digital marketing strategy for Plenti’s two revenue-driving commerce programs, including an online affiliate shopping mall and a local dining program. My degree in CMST has equipped me with key skills like oral and written communication, the ability to think critically and strategically, as well as an introduction into the rhetoric of mass media; these skills have directly enabled me to gain buy in from teams across the business, create and revise marketing collateral, develop an overall marketing strategy for the commerce programs, and ultimately drive business goals. I am grateful to have learned such transferable skills from my communication courses that have continued to help me grow & develop my career.


Jade Kipperman
Communication Studies, 2013

I am currently a Business Analyst in the COO Management Office at UBS Financial Services Inc. This role is focused on planning, communication, and implementation of key strategic and regulatory projects across Wealth Management, the Investment Bank, and Asset Management in the Americas Region, with a key emphasis on risk management. While it may not seem like a major in Communication Studies immediately lends itself to a career in finance, I find myself continually relying on and building upon the rhetorical skills that I learned at Vanderbilt. On any given day, I am responsible for developing a variety of decks with accompanying talking points to be presented to either internal (the Board of Directors, Senior Management) or external (regulators) stakeholders. CMST taught me how to most effectively develop an argument, and perhaps more importantly how to best share that argument with and tailor it to a wide range of audiences.


Courtney Kissack
Communication Studies and Spanish, 2013

I am currently a Regional Development Representative with ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. In this role, I coordinate and execute events in the Middle Tennessee area, including the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway, St. Jude Up ‘Til Dawn, and Promesa y Esperanza Radiothon for St. Jude. The CMST major was integral in my success in starting at St. Jude, as I interned for St. Jude through a Communication Studies Independent Study in Fall 2010. Courses like Public Speaking and Interpersonal Communication provided key techniques for entering the workplace, while courses involving the study of rhetoric and persuasion have proved crucial in my role as a fundraiser. I am incredibly grateful to the entire Department of Communication Studies for guiding the first steps in my career and lifelong passion: St. Jude’s mission of finding cures and saving children.


Arielle Matza
Communication Studies and Political Science, 2013

I am currently a third-year law student at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where I am a Notes Editor of the Cardozo Law Review, and a legal intern for the Law Department at NBCUniversal, where I spent my first year after graduating from Vanderbilt as a member of the NBC Page Program. This fall, after my graduation from law school, I will be a corporate associate at the law firm of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP, where I plan to practice in mergers and acquisitions and intellectual property law. My degree in communication studies has proved invaluable to me in my many diverse academic and professional experiences since Vanderbilt. I have used the oral and written communication, argumentation, research, and critical thinking skills that I developed in my communication courses every single day as a law student—whether it be while articulating coherent arguments in classes as a student of the Socratic Method, advocating for clients in legal memoranda as a summer associate at my law firm, or drafting well-reasoned judicial opinions as an intern in a U.S. district court judge’s chambers. In addition, my studies of mass media equipped me with a fundamental understanding of the changing media and entertainment industries, which I have relied upon in my various positions at leading entertainment companies, ranging from audience coordination as a Page, to intellectual property protection as a legal intern. My dual major from Vanderbilt has laid the groundwork for an exciting legal career, and for this, I am grateful.


Jennifer Quan
Communication Studies, English, Sociology, 2013

I graduated from Vanderbilt (BA ’13) with degrees in Communication Studies, English, and Sociology. My CMST degree helped me to expand my platform in cross-cultural communication and international relations. More than just pretty talk, communication is about spreading a variety of messages to diverse, international audiences. After I graduated, I worked in China in education management, assisting students in personal and academic development. Currently, I am working towards my Masters in Business Administration at ESSEC Business School in Paris, France, where I have the chance to apply my soft skills in my daily business courses and school environment.


Leslie Buchanan
Communication Studies and English, 2012

I graduated from Vanderbilt in 2012 with a double major in Communication Studies and English. While at Vanderbilt, I thrived in the analytical and research-driven environment CMST professors created, and I sought to improve my skills in speaking, writing, and arguing logically and clearly. Upon graduation, I worked with NBC Sports as a digital producer for the 2012 London Games. During my time in sports, I realized my passion for interviewing, writing, editing and digital media. I then attended Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in January 2013, specialized in interactive production and graduated in December 2013 with my master’s in journalism. I now work at Vanderbilt as an IT communications specialist with VUIT.


Jamie Landau
Communication Studies and English, 2002

I did not plan on majoring in Communication Studies when enrolling at Vanderbilt. Nor did I imagine that studying Communication would become my life-long profession and passion. I’m currently an Associate Professor of Communication at a public liberal arts college in the northeast. Before working in higher education, I interned at a book publishing company, a magazine, and a public relations firm, and once was a full-time newspaper reporter. I teach college students and conduct research on how verbal discourse and visual media rhetorically impact U.S. public policy and social change related to gender/sexuality and health/medicine. Now I’m also a university administrator who coordinates professional development for faculty, as well as I lead initiatives to support the LGBTQ community on campus. As a double-major in Communication Studies and English at Vanderbilt, I honed my writing skills, practiced public speaking, and learned how to craft a persuasive argument– these experiences benefit me every day in my life and career. Additionally, I became a feminist while at Vanderbilt! Thanks to classes with Professor John Sloop such as “Communication, Culture, Consciousness,” “Rhetoric of Mass Media,” and “Rhetoric of Gender Trouble,” I realized not only how communication constructs gender/sexuality and social inequity, but also that it was up to me and my peers to rhetorically change the world we live in to empower women and the LGBTQ community.


Sam Friedlander
Communication Studies, 2000

I graduated from Vandy (BA ’00) with a major in Communications and a minor in Film Studies. I currently work in film and television, primarily producing, writing and directing. While at Vanderbilt, I loved the interdisciplinary nature of Communications Studies, and in the professional world I have found that this broad foundation has provided me with invaluable skills for interpersonal and group interactions, as well as for effective leadership. I loved the theoretical basis of the program, and along with the technical expertise I gained during graduate school, I feel I have a very well rounded education for the entertainment field. I honestly can’t imagine a career path where this major wouldn’t be applicable and highly useful.