Jamie Haas, Brittany Foster, Brittany Davis and Kyle McDonald participate in alumni panel during COMS Day. Photo courtesy of University Marketing and Communications

The University of Montevallo Department of Communication Studies hosted its annual COMS Day event in the Student Activity Center on Thursday, Oct. 31. The event is a large part of the COMS 499 capstone class for Senior Communication Studies majors.   

Students put together and plan out the event as a part of their class.   

“Event planning is an important skill set for a lot of communication fields,” said Dr. Raymond R. Ozley an associate professor in the Department of Communications and the professor for the COMS 499 capstone class.   

Every aspect of the event from advertising and fund raising to decorating and organizing is the responsibility of the students in the class. The students in the class form committees to divide up the various tasks necessary for COMS day.   

One of these many tasks involved was selecting alumni to come and host booths and speak on a panel. The group in charge of this tried to get those who were closest to UM because they believed that they would be easier to reach out to and more likely to come.   

An alumnus there, Jordan Strong, is now employed by Champion Windows and Home Exteriors as their event planner. This was Strong’s second year coming to COMS Day.  

When asked why he comes, Strong said, “To showcase what students can do with their degree after college.”  

Another Alumni at COMS Day was Jamie Haas, who is now a communication and marketing associate with The Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens, a non-profit group that works in partnership with the gardens to help with fundraisers and website management.  

Like Strong, Haas said she wanted show students what they could do with their degree, and she also professed an enjoyment at getting to talk with students at the event.  

“It’s been really exciting to get to see and greet the underclassman who I didn’t get to know or see before I graduated. That’s kinda what the day’s about, it’s about bringing alumni, current students, professors and perspective students all together to just kind of celebrate the discipline that is communication studies as well as the major itself,” said Haas.   

After the event started and time had been given for people to mingle and talk, they held the first panel, which featured several COMS professors answering questions directed to them by students. Some of the questions were ones picked by the event organizers, but the rest were directed at the panelists by the audience.   

The professors brought forward to be on the panel were Drs. Tiffany Wang, Raymond R. Ozley, Sherry Ford, Sally Bennet Hardig and Jefferson Walker. Some of the topics covered included the professors’ goals for their students, what their Halloween costumes were, how they handle overcoming anxiety when public speaking and what would they be if they weren’t professors.  

The consensus among the professors seemed to be that their goals for their students were for them to gain confidence in speaking for themselves.  

Regarding Halloween costumes Walker said his Halloween costume was a blockbuster employee and Ozley said he was wearing his costume.  

When it came to anxiety, Ozley said that he doesn’t overcome anxiety, but instead tries to manage it, while Ford said she engages in positive self-talk.   

If she wasn’t a COMS professor Wang says she might want to be Dean of Student Life.  

“I think I’d be a cat lady,” said Hardig. After the laughter died down, she said she’d probably really be a high school counselor because she enjoys helping students.  

After the panel by the professors there was another panel featuring current COMS students. The students selected were sophomore Raina Verser, junior Meghan Hilley and senior John Englebert.  

The three students passed on advice to their fellow COMS students.  

One of the questions directed to the trio was, “what was the turning point where you thought, I got this?” 

“Just the fact that they [professors] were so welcoming was it,” said Verser. 

The final panel consisted of alumni Brittany Davis, Brittany Foster, Jamie Haas and Kyle McDonald.