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Meet our Alumni
News, profiles and words of wisdom from the distinguished alumni of UMKC's Communication Studies department.
Film and Media Arts kevin bryce film and media arts alumnus

Five questions with a filmmaker

Kevin Bryce, maker of "We Are Superman: The Transformation of 31st and Troost."

What do you do?

I work a part-time job in communications for a national non-profit on Troost: journalistic writing, social media management, photo and video design. As well as working part-time, I am currently pursuing documentary filmmaking, having recently finished my first feature length film, We Are Superman: The Transformation of 31st and Troost, an emotional testament to a select few who are working tirelessly in the heart of Kansas City at the corner of 31st and Troost; working to transform a dividing line into a gathering place.

The most valuable lesson I learned in my education process at UMKC was to know the art of the do-over.

Get a DVD of Kevin's new film "We Are Superman" here.

How did your education prepare you for your job?

The most valuable lesson I learned in my education process at UMKC was to know the art of the do-over. How to effectively scrap a script, a story, an article, or a film for parts, and start over. I began to learn the necessity of the opinion of others in whatever I’m working on. I’ve taken that into the workplace and often restart an article for the nonprofit, or rework areas of the documentary. I’m still learning, and I still get offended initially when someone critiques my work, but I’ve learned to keep my emotions at bay while I wait for rational to set in. Then I make changes, or sometimes start over.

What made you choose a major in Film and Media Arts?

I chose film and media arts because I wanted to improve on my ability to tell an effective and engaging story through the medium of film.

What is your fondest memory of your time at UMKC?

My favorite class in the Film and Media arts program was Mitch Brian’s Screenwriting 3. With only 8 students, the course provided an intimate setting for discussion and critique. One of the most valuable lessons I learned while in school was how to receive critique and rewrite. I learned that my first idea is almost always a terrible one, but it is worth sharing, because disguised within that terrible idea, is a great one, and it takes the additional thoughts of others to bring it out. Screenwriting 3 was the chiseling of terrible ideas into bad ideas. And then bad ideas into ok ideas, and then ok ideas into good ideas, and ideally, if there was time, and we put forward the effort, good ideas could become great ones.

What advice do you have for current or prospective Film and Media Arts students?

I often had it in my head, and perhaps was raised with the workplace mindset of “do what you love”. But for me, what I love to do is narrative filmmaking, and at least for now, I’m not very good at it. And so, I’ve ended up going into a route of journalism, which I was never interested in. I didn’t take any journalism classes and I didn’t take the documentary film course offered at UMKC. It would have been helpful for me to have branched away from fictional story telling a bit. Fortunately I’ve been able to apply what I’ve learned to journalism and documentary filmmaking and I’ve discovered I really enjoy it. We can’t always do what we love, but I’d recommend to prospective and current students to learn to love what they do. I hope to return to narrative filmmaking when I’ve improved that craft, but for now, I really enjoy my work.

Interpersonal and Public Communication

Five questions with a director of marketing

Valerie Brown, Director of Marketing, Worksite Lighting LLC

What do you do?

I am the Director of Marketing at WorkSite Lighting LLC. We manufacture, customize, rent, and sell explosion-proof lighting and portable power distribution units.

My education gave me a unique opportunity to learn how to communicate better with all types of people in many different industries.

How did your education prepare you for your job?

My education gave me a unique opportunity to learn how to communicate better with all types of people in many different industries. This gives me an advantage when dealing with sales people from all types of print and web media for advertising

What made you choose a major in Interpersonal and Public Communication?

I chose communications after taking a speech class my first semester at UMKC. I wrote a eulogy to fallen heroes and it became a quick hit at the Veteran's Administration in Kansas City. They asked me to speak at a women veteran's luncheon as the guest speaker. Before that day, I was a Psychology and Criminal Justice double major. Two days after speaking, I changed my path. It was amazing to speak to those women and nothing short of an honor to represent my generation of female veterans to some of the women who forged the way for other women to follow in their footsteps, serving our country.

What is your fondest memory of your time at UMKC?

My fondest time was assisting with the creation of the Student Veterans Organization with Bill Smith (advisor), Naomi Carter (Nursing Student), Spencer Fenton (Political Science Alum), and Eusebio Ochoa (Studio Art Alum), Cailey McClurcken (Biology Student) and several others. Participating in community events, school events and networking with peers and mentors.

What advice do you have for current or prospective Interpersonal and Public Communications students?

I would say to any and all majors that your degree is Important but the people you meet along the way, the relationships you forge, and the networking are irreplaceable. Get involved as much as you can. Do not be afraid to venture out. One of my favorite teachers, Steve Kraske, said "Don't be afraid to put yourself out there." Intern early in your time at school. This gives you an idea of which direction you want to go after graduation. Interning can create unique opportunities to network in the correct direction, and help you land your dream job, or at least get you one step closer.

Journalism and Mass Communication

Five questions with a weekend anchor and general assignment reporter at WDAF Fox 4 news

Mary Pulley, 2006 BA in Communication Studies

What do you do?

I am a weekend anchor and general assignment reporter at WDAF Fox 4 news. As a reporter I cover everything from traffic accidents and crime, to city ordinances and feature stories. Each day I submit two story ideas that I've researched and would like to work on. If the ideas are approved, I proceed. If not, I cover the stories that the station feels are more newsworthy that day. As an anchor, I research information that our producers put in our newscasts.

I also spend time getting connected with local charities and organizations, as a way to highlight their efforts to improve Kansas City. I've served as a volunteer and emcee for organizations including the American Cancer Society and The National Kidney Foundation.

My education taught me how to research topics, think critically, and be resourceful.

How did your education prepare you for your job?

My education taught me how to research topics, think critically, and be resourceful. I liken just about every story I cover to studying for a final exam that I'm taking later that evening. It's almost always information that I'm familiar with, but still have some researching to do before my deadline. Having been educated in such a diverse environment as UMKC, I've also learned that there are often more than just two sides to every story. There are often several angles to consider.

What made you choose a major in Journalism and Mass Communication?

I had been exploring several options when I discovered mass communication. It was after taking a few introductory classes and internships that I made up my mind to pursue broadcasting. When I got a chance to see first hand how news coverage can not only inform the public, but lead to positive change I decided to make it my career. I've seen several stories that have given me the information I needed to make some pretty important decisions, and I want to help inform others so they can make better decisions.

What is your fondest memory of your time at UMKC?

It's tough to pick my fondest memory at UMKC, because I enjoyed my time there so much. The thing I appreciated the most was having discussions about world events in any given classroom! Not just mass communications classes, but also classes like history and philosophy. I grew as a person after hearing so many different perspectives, which included that of international students, continuing education students, and those who came from other states. It seemed everyone had a different way of looking at the world's problems, and it was very enlightening to have those discussions.

What advice do you have for current or prospective Journalism and Mass Communication students?

My advice to mass communication and journalism students is to never give up. Go after what you want, and don't be afraid to sacrifice in order to get it. Do as many internships as you can. The more experience you have, the better chance you have of building your skills. Make sure to network, and leave a good impression on everyone one you meet.

 

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