COMS Day CEO Jonathan Mendoza and COO Kaitlyn Sheehee kick off the day with an introductory speech. Photo courtesy of University Marketing and Communications

The UM Communication Studies Program hosted its 8th annual COMS Day on Thursday, Oct. 25 in the McChesney Student Activity Center.  

The branding and theme of the event centered around the concept of “Choose Your Own Adventure,” which called upon students to take hold of their own career path and utilize the versatility of a degree in communication studies. 

“One of the things about our major and something that is in our vision statement is how interdisciplinary our major is and how it can be applied to a variety of careers,” said Kaitlyn Shehee, a senior communication studies major and chief operations officer for the COMS Day planning team. 

Designed to be both a celebration and invitation to the discipline of communication, the annual event is planned and executed entirely by seniors enrolled in the major’s capstone course taught by Dr. Ray Ozley, associate professor of communication studies.   

The class began the process by dividing into five senior committees, each with distinct roles and assigned tasks: executive, activities, budget and finance, venue and public relations.   

“It has become a rite of passage for our major, because they see upperclassmen do it as they come in, and then they have to do it themselves,” said Ozley.   

Chasidy Atchinson, a UM alumna, was the event’s keynote speaker. Atchison majored in communication studies and served as the University Program Council (UPC) coordinator when she attended UM. Currently, she works as co-owner of Banjo Coffee in Atlanta, and as the vice president of Fizz, a global marketing company.   

Atchison credited her success to the fact that she attended UM, Alabama’s only public liberal arts university. She said that a liberal arts education and a background in communication gave her all of the tools she needed to excel in any type of advertising, public relations or social media roles.   

“I will tell you today that being able to both communicate effectively and listen is truly a superpower that most people don’t have,” Atchison said. “Communication, in essence, gives you a key.” 

Atchinson provided three nuggets of information that she considers essential to success: live curiously, do what you love and work hard. 

Giselle Casadaban, another UM and COMS program alumna, was the second speaker of the day. Casadaban’s speech featured an interactive PowerPoint, allowing students to experience a day in the life of a communication studies major. She argued that skills learned in communication studies are fundamental and can be applied to the adventure of everyday life.   

Casadaban also gave tips for students when seeking jobs and internships, emphasizing the importance of beginning the application process early on as well as doing research prior to interviews.  

Other activities of the day included games, roundtable discussions and a mixer where students had the opportunity to network with local business representatives.  

The event wrapped up with closing remarks from COMS senior Jonathan Mendoza, chief executive officer of the planning team: “Adventure is out there, and it awaits. You just have to choose it.”