Communicate Your Way to a Successful Career

by Sharyn Kopf—Cedarville, Ohio

    Whether the first thing you do in the morning is turn on your radio, read the newspaper, check that day’s posting on your favorite blog, or plop down in front of the TV, you are looking for people who can communicate the information you want just the way you want it. Communication is, in itself, an art. And, in a world that craves that information on a 24/7 basis, it is also a necessity, which is what makes communication arts such a strong and lucrative major.

Make Your Mark in Journalism
    Cedarville University’s comm arts program continues to make in-roads in the various fields it offers, from updating technology to new areas of study. The latest: a journalism major set to begin in the fall.

    “We had the opportunity to start the program from scratch,” says Dr. Chuck Elliott, department chair. “So we based it on where the industry is going rather than simply building on traditional journalism models of the past.”

    What that leads to is a convergent major that offers cross-media competencies in print, broadcasting and online skills. Today’s employer wants a well-rounded journalist … and that’s what Cedarville’s major promises to provide. To meet that goal, this summer the school will be constructing a new media lab for writing and upper-level design students.

    “This generation,” Elliott says, “is relying less and less on traditional media for news and more on other sources. The new journalism major reflects that.”

Set a Standard in Electronic Media
    Another strong major within the comm arts department is electronic media. Though emphasizing audio and video, it also offers a great option with its concentration in media management and sales. In fact, many students start in audio/visual, then move to management/sales when they realize it has a better future … with better money.

    According to Jim Leightenheimer, associate professor of broadcasting, electronic media provides an unusual mix of the practical and the theoretical. “The students have an opportunity,” he says, “to apply what they are learning in a real-life setting, like the University’s student-run radio station Resound.”

    Balancing theory and practice is something the faculty works hard to accomplish. In fact, this April, the University selected Leightenheimer as the Faculty Innovator of the Year for his ability to integrate learning and faith in a real-life context. The radio station isn’t just an activity, but a lab where students learn how to succeed in that profession. “It’s not just for fun,” Elliott adds, “but serves as a co-curricular experience that translates into a job.”

    Speaking of awards, the station also recently won an Intercollegiate National Religious Broadcasters’ Award for its website ( Senior electronic media major Jeremy McDuffie received first place in the Internet category for his website development.

Let Your Voice Be Heard
    When it comes to accolades, Cedarville boasts national debate and speech champions. With debate teams that move continually to the top of national rankings and an excellent forensics competitive team, this is a course of study that will challenge anyone with an interest in public speaking.

    For those with a more dramatic bent, however, Cedarville strives to upstage other schools with its ever-growing theater degree. Besides the basic—and very popular—performance concentration, there’s also a program for designers, those who want to be in theater but prefer to work behind the scenes.

    “The faculty are incredible,” says Elliott, “for their ability to balance rigor and compassion. They understand where each student is coming from and their individual learning needs.”

Theater students perform three main stage plays each school year—and continuously win local awards for excellence in performance and design.

So Much to Say
    “Cedarville’s program is unique in that it actually prepares students to adapt to many and varied opportunities in their future,” Jim Phipps, professor of communication arts, says. “Many of the careers that grads have chosen were not in their plans when they came to school.”

    The adaptability of a communication arts degree is most notably seen in the comprehensive communication major. This one-of-a-kind program allows students to tailor their degree to their specific life goals, creating their own major, in a sense. For instance, a student could combine communication studies with art, history, science or ministry—whatever fits best with what they want to do with their career.

    Variety, creativity and adaptability are key ingredients to what makes the Cedarville University communication arts degree so good. But, most importantly, Cedarville’s communication arts faculty believe in the importance of providing quality, knowledgeable communication leaders who will approach their chosen career from a moral and biblical perspective.