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Keeping up with Drury's Department of Communication

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Drury students travel to Ecuador to begin work on non-profit

April 16, 2016 began as a normal day for the residents of the northeastern coast of Ecuador, but at around 7 pm, tragedy struck the country as a magnitude 7.8 earthquake rattled the Earth beneath them, leaving over 670 dead and 16,600 injured.

In response to the disaster that took from the already-poor country, two Drury alumns, Jorge Nadal Volckaert and Juan Fernando Calderon, and one current student, Masha Podokshik, felt compelled to help the people affected.

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Alumni Spotlight: Nicole Weaverling ’05


Nicole (Dunning) Weaverling proves the path forward doesn’t always require a plan

By McKensie Hodges, junior advertising and public relations major

Are you a freshman, sophomore, or even junior who is undecided on a major?  Nicole Weaverling ’05 doesn’t think this is a terrible problem. In fact, being undecided should be viewed as an opportunity to network and develop your personal brand.

Nicole came to Drury with aspirations of working in public relations and was not sure about much else.  “I was really focused in on what was going on around me in the college world.” While at Drury, she participated on the Speech and Debate team where she spent many long nights of running lines and working on stage prep with the team’s coach, Dr. Curt Gilstrap. During her senior year she joined AD Team and served as the Research Director on the Yahoo! campaign. As is the case with many communication students, Shewmaker became her home away from home.

As the late study nights, 3 a.m. coffee runs, and endless papers came to an end after four years in college, Nicole prepared herself for graduation day. She was not exactly sure of where she was going to go after walking across the stage to receive her diploma. This was an unsettling reality.

Nicole decided the best move she could make was to pack her bags and return home to live at her grandmother’s house in Texas to regroup, rest, and take the initiative to get her name out there.

“The first few years were rough.  If you don’t have experience, you can’t get experience.”

She accepted a job at the Midland Reporter in advertising and sales. From there Nicole worked a few different jobs in graphic design and communication and eventually became a stay at home mom in 2011, after giving birth to her son Eli. While working at home, Nicole discovered her love of cake decorating and party planning and ran her own business for a while.

Her true professional calling came during the oil boom when she decided it was time to dust off her high heels and dress pants and hit the business world. A connection helped her getweaverling a job at the Midland Chamber of Commerce as a public relations and communications assistant, a position she currently holds. This role allows Nicole to perform a variety of PR activities, including writing press releases and organizing events for the Chamber. This career is a perfect fit with her skills and interest.

Nicole is happy to reside in her home state of Texas. In 2008 she married Dirk and they started a life together in Midland, Texas, home of former President George W. Bush. Midland is the size of a community where Nicole’s husband has actually had the opportunity to meet the former president.

Now that Nicole has launched her career in public relations, she fully understands the importance of professional networks. Nicole’s best advice for students? “Start networking while you’re in college.” As Nicole story proves, you never know how a connection might shape your career path. Students, you’re encouraged to make a connection with Nicole on LinkedIn —  especially if you are undecided.

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Working abroad: Kaitlyn McConnell Grønli ’11


Kaitlyn McConnell Grønli ’11 shares her story of finding love and a career halfway across the world.

I’ve always wanted to make an impact on the world. When I graduated from Drury with a degree in Integrated Media in May 2011, however, my plan was to make that difference from the safe, cozy confines of Southwest Missouri. I grew up in nearby Marshfield, and while I’ve always loved travelling, I never had any intention of moving elsewhere. The Ozarks region was my first love, and I never thought I’d leave.

Since then, I’ve learned that life occasionally has surprises in store – and that when you roll with the unexpected, many an exciting adventure is likely to ensue.

One of those adventures took place right after graduation when I decided to take a solo trip to Europe. While I was there, a chance encounter with a wonderful guy changed my life forever.

That story, however, is a tale in itself. I’ll just say that the guy, whose name is Espen, eventually convinced me to marry him – but first persuaded me to move to his home country of Norway so we could get to know each other better. It was a crazy idea, but I decided to take a leap. I quit my job as a staff writer at 417 Magazine to move abroad with no job, no knowledge of the language and no professional contacts.

In retrospect, this was stupid.

Not from the relationship side of things, of course. But looking back, this could have been professional suicide. Thankfully things worked out for me, but if you’re moving abroad for work-related reasons, take my advice: Do your research first. Don’t just sail (or, in most cases, fly) off into the unknown.

Getting started
After arriving in Norway, the first thing I did was enroll in immersive Norwegian classes. Although I didn’t like the classes, I now know that learning the language was a crucial step. I would strongly encourage anyone moving abroad to make this effort. Although English is widely spoken in Europe, it’s been my experience that there is always a barrier when communicating with people when you’re not speaking their native tongue. If you want to fully integrate, then connecting with people where they’re most comfortable is a necessity.

I began looking for jobs while I was still taking Norwegian classes. It wasn’t long before I came across a position with FMC Technologies, a company that engineers oil and gas extraction equipment for energy giants like Shell, BP and Statoil – and is American-owned. They were looking for someone, preferably an English-speaking journalist, to write, edit and quality assure their written material. Everyone else in the local communications department is Norwegian, so I was hired as a Communications Coordinator and given the task of making sure that everything we do sounds American.

Over the past two years, my position has evolved. Now I’m the company’s Internal Media Editor, and I spend most of my time working on various internal projects. I’m still responsible for quality assuring content, but I largely focus on executive communication, the development of internal campaigns, as well as the management our intranet site and information screens.

Norway in winterBe prepared to be unprepared
It’s safe to say that I’ve learned a lot while in Norway. Someone considering a move abroad should do a lot of research on their intended destination before he or she departs – but some surprises should be expected, too. Thankfully, some of these surprises can be good, like the five weeks of paid vacation that every Norwegian gets each year. Others, like homesickness and culture shock, aren’t so great.

If someone intends to stay in a country (or at least get a real feel for it), immersion is a necessity. Join clubs. Do the local activities and eat the regional food. Don’t be disappointed when things are different than in the U.S., because they definitely will be. And, as previously stated, learn the language. Make every effort to find the good things about where you are. Realize that each country, as a puzzle piece in this great big world that we live in, plays a unique role in the grand scheme of things.

Ultimately know that you – yes, YOU – possess the ability to get out and make a global impact!

If you’d like more information about moving and working abroad, don’t hesitate to contact Kaitlyn ( 

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Alumni Profile: Dionne (Beaty) Reese ’02

Alumna Dionne (Beaty) Reese ’02 embraces the helping role of account services


Dionne has been married to Casey for 11 years. They have a 5 year old son named Asher.

Right out of college, Dionne Reese ’02 accepted an internship position with the Willow Creek Association, a nonprofit Christian organization in the Chicago area. She loved nonprofit work, but the 9/11 tragedy led to a hiring freeze in many organizations and job options were limited. That’s when opportunity called her back to Springfield and she accepted a position as an assistant account executive at Noble Communications +.

“I used to struggle with not working for a nonprofit or other worthy cause, but soon I realized advertising lets me help people, too. I get to help my clients meet their objectives and hopefully make their lives a little easier. By helping my clients, I’m helping their customers which may mean customers see their dreams come true with the products or services my client offers.”

Dionne worked at Noble for almost 10 years and eventually made the move to the Marlin Network, an agency focused on food service,  where she is now an account supervisor.  She attributes her success to never thinking something was beneath her. Dionne reminds students “You never know who is watching and who will be impressed by the little things.”  As an account supervisor, she makes sure that everything on her client account is running smoothly. Dionne interacts with a variety of individuals each day to make sure that the account is staying on budget and on strategy. 

“No day is like the last. I have to stay flexible and ready to jump to the next thing.”

While launching a successful career in advertising, she has also created a family that brings her much joy. She has been married to Casey for 11 years and they are raising their 5-year old son, Asher. As evidenced in the accompanying photo, motherhood suits Dionne quite nicely.

For those students counting down the days to graduation, Dionne offers a valuable piece of advice:

“When you are right out of college, don’t be afraid to go to a new and different place. It’s one of the only times in your life where you don’t have commitments keeping you from following your dream.” 

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Crowd funding at its finest

Thanks to the generosity of nearly 100 donors, our CauseMomentum fundraising campaign was a success. We raised $5,105 to update a classroom in the Shewmaker Communication Center. We are grateful for the support of our students, alumni, colleagues, and Friends of COMM. A special thank you to senior Kari Hanson who took the lead in organizing and promoting this project. Kari’s enthusiasm and hard work ensured the success of this campaign.  Our goal is to unveil the new improvements by the end of the Spring 2015 semester. Stay tuned for celebration details!
*Names are listed in alphabetical order.

Carolyn Adams

Tiffany Allen

Samantha Behen

Jackie Brandhorst

Whitney Brown

Sheila Haskins and Dwight Buzzell

Bruce Callen

Caleb Cohoon

Dave Corner

Kaitlyn Den Beste


Ed Derr

Staci Dreyer

Nicole Dunning – Weaverling

Molly Erickson

Sonja Garrett

Abby Glenn

Erin Gollhofer

Andrea Graddy

Casey Grismer

Dr. Jonathan Groves


Sara Hammond

Paul and Paige Hanson

Cassie Hanson Riewer

Andrea Harp

Jen Hellmich


In Memory of Libby Hill

Rebecca Hodous

Luke Hofmann

Krista Hood

Amanda Hornick


Mykesha Jackson

Molly Katharine Riddle

Adam Kilker

Benjamin Lamb

Reid Larson


Matthew Lemmon

 Brian Leonhardt

 Danielle Lindermann

 Jann Loeb Holland

 Liz Mabe


Staci Malikowski

Susan Malikowski Hanson

Lindsay Martin

Amy Maas

Rick Maxson


Jackie Meyle

Ricardo Moreno

Brenda Noland

Brie Ott

Aimee Peterson


James Pikul

Beth Pile

Mallory Price

Maria Reardon

Dionne Reese

Christa Rieger

Jeff Riggins

Aaron Robinson

Cathy Robinson

Jacquelyn Schoppa


Kaitlyn Schwers

Kristina Seel

Millie Sharp

Brian Shipman

Emily Shook


Jason and Cyndi Skinner

Jessica Snider

Chase Snider

Julie Sonnenberg Baumgart

Robin Sronce


Sam Stoll

Allyson Strickland

Charles and Jan Taylor

Janet Vigen Levy

Taylor Wagner


Samuel Warne

Regina Waters

Caitlin Weiler

Caitlin Weins

Johanna Westall


Kristen Westerman

Logan Whittmore

Danielle Wise

Jon Woodson

Dani York-Maag

Jani Zatezalo Rogers

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Alumni Profile: David Maxson ’10

DavidPic2A passion for academia:  David Maxson ’10 describes his journey to becoming a Ph.D. Candidate in Rhetoric at Penn State

When strangers ask me why I’m pursuing a graduate degree instead of getting a job, I tell them that I have been in college my entire life and I plan to stay in college.  This, of course, is not entirely true, but it makes a good story, and good stories are why I study rhetoric.

Before kindergarten, my parents moved me and my brother to Bloomington, Indiana where my dad (Dr. Rick Maxson of Drury University) got his Ph.D.  My brother, Stan and I grew up in campus apartments and made friends with other kids whose parents were also pursuing graduate degrees.  We were basically under-undergraduates.  The experience of living on a college campus stuck with me from elementary school all the way through high school.

By the time I arrived at Drury in the fall of 2006, college felt like the place I was meant to be.

I took my dad’s persuasion seminar as a sophomore and it was in that class that I decided to major in Speech Communication.  I’m sure my decision was impacted by how much my dad’s class felt like family dinners from my childhood, but communication was also something that fascinated me.  While at Drury, I worked as a Peer Consultant in the Speech Communication Center helping other students prepare for class presentations.  This experience was invaluable because as a Peer Consultant I learned many of the fundamental teaching skills that I continue to use as a Graduate Assistant teaching undergraduate classes.

As a Drury student, I participated in three week-long rebuilding trips to New Orleans.  I have spent time in many historic cities across the United States and Europe, but I never felt as much a part of history as I did when I was walking in New Orleans.  When I graduated from Drury in 2010, I decided to move to New Orleans where I spent a year rebuilding houses that were still damaged five years after Hurricane Katrina.  In a city recovering from the catastrophic levee failures, I was struck by the resilience of the New Orleanians I met.  It seemed that their hope stemmed from a loving rootedness to their city which was often communicated through stories and songs.  Though I loved New Orleans, the time off proved that graduate school was the place for me.  While I am still in the process of finalizing a dissertation topic, I know that it will focus on New Orleans.


If I could give advice to my undergraduate self I would start by saying, take school seriously, but not too seriously.  While my professors and classes set me up to succeed in graduate school, a huge part of my Drury experience was the extracurricular activities.  From intramurals to one-act plays, from alternative Spring Break trips to playing ukulele at open mic nights, activities outside of class enriched my school work in profound ways.  The key, of course, is balance.  Don’t neglect your classes, but make sure you take the time to discover what your passions are.  Drury is filled with brilliant and interesting folks and there are all kinds of opportunities for intellectual growth and exploration.  Take some chances, have some fun, work hard, and who knows, you might stumble across your dissertation project in the process.

Note:  David is completing his second semester in the Department of Communication Arts and Sciences at Penn State (December 2014). If you have questions about graduate study, don’t hesitate to reach out to this alumnus.