Students showcase work at ECA conference

The students and faculty enjoyed getting to see the city of Pittsburgh after a long day of working at the conference. (Photo courtesy of Stephanie Verni)

Eight students and four faculty members representing Stevenson University attended the 109th annual Eastern Communication Association (ECA) conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, April 25-29.

The students and faculty enjoyed getting to see the city of Pittsburgh after a long day of working at the conference. (Photo courtesy of Stephanie Verni)

They assisted Stevenson’s Dr. Leeanne M. Bell McManus, the vice-president of the ECA, who had been planning the conference since last year, in managing conference logistics and social media. Bell McManus assumed her role as president of the ECA for 2018-2019 on the last day of the conference. The five-day convention included over 800 attendees.

The Eastern Communication Association is a professional organization of scholars, teachers, and students of communication studies,” according to their website. Their mission is to welcome “members who share the goals and objectives of a membership dedicated to participation in state, regional, and national activity.”

Pittsburgh, the city of bridges, with 446 bridges in total, gave rise to the conference’s  theme, “Building Bridges.” According to the ECA website, “Just as the bridges in the city connect communities, communication has the opportunity to build bridges within and outside of our discipline, creating countless opportunities for research, teaching and service.”

Graduate program alum, and adjunct professor Michael MacFee presented his research during the Graduate Poster Session. (Photo courtesy of Michael MacFee)

Business Communication professors Stephanie Verni and Chip Rouse also attended the conference, presenting their work on a panel about curriculum and event planning, joined by other faculty members from an assortment of universities who also teach the topic. Adjunct instructor and Master’s graduate Michael MacFee also presented a poster explaining his graduate research and represented Stevenson University at the Graduate School Fair. Rouse’s job was conference programming and print materials.

The eight students included Adrienne Civetti, Ben Wanaselja, Courtney Hottle, Kamica Price, Meghan Loveless, Matthew Patti, Grace Clark, and Kaya Roberts.

The students involved with The Mill, formerly known as The Design Center, presented as a panel on April 25 for about an hour and a half about what The Mill does at Stevenson. In their audience was the group that inspired them, Pier 601 from UNC Wilmington, North Carolina. Afterwards, they had the opportunity to meet with the Pier 601 students and share ideas. Verni moderated the panel and was also tasked with supervising all the student volunteers at the conference.

Students from “The Mill” presented on a panel, discussing their work on planning and promoting the convention. (Photo by Stephanie Verni)

Senior Courtney Hottle sat on a panel with students from five other universities as they talked about and compared their work with Lambda Pi Eta and other student clubs. Audience questions revealed that the student work within clubs was both valuable and important. Caitlyn Reinauer, the Academic and Professional Affairs Associate from Lambda Pi Eta and the National Communication Association, organized the panel so that students with a wide range of experiences could share their ideas.

Senior Kaya Roberts’ paper on Game of Thrones was accepted as part of the conference, and she presented her work as part of the Undergraduate Scholars Conference panel on “Exploring Female Characters (and Dragons) in Literature.”

Clark, a senior, talked about her experience at the conference: “I felt like all the skills I learned from my classes at Stevenson were put to the test, from communication to public relations to management. We began working from the moment we arrived at the hotel. We had to familiarize ourselves with the huge hotel from top to bottom to be able to direct people to the proper places. Overall, I had a great experience and I even heard people say this was the best ECA conference ever.”

One of the many duties students took on during the conference was helping attendees sign-in and register for the events. (photo by Chip Rouse)

Wanaselja, also a senior, said, “It was a full circle experience for me. Executing an event in a city I have never been to was more of a challenge than if it were to have been in familiar territory….Our work was met with a standing ovation from the audience at the general business meeting.”

More information regarding the ECA as a whole, and a recap of this year’s event can be found on their official website.

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