COMM notes

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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Communication Faculty and Graduate Students to Present at National Conference

Drury Communications Dept 19This November, communication faculty and graduate students will present peer-selected research at the 100th annual National Communication Association (NCA) convention in Chicago. Dr. Cristina Gilstrap will present a co-authored paper examining the uncertainties experienced by parents of premature babies in neonatal intensive care units. Drs. Curt and Cristina Gilstrap will present a co-authored paper with graduate students examining nonprofit leaders’ construction of effective crisis leadership.

  •  Dr. Cristina Gilstrap, associate professor of communication: “A Weird Purgatory You Get Stuck In: Parental Uncertainty Management in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit” (Health Communication Division)
  • Dr. Curt Gilstrap, director of graduate studies, Dr. Cristina Gilstrap, associate professor of communication, Nigel Holderby, M.A. ‘14, Katrina Valera, graduate student, Megan West, M.A. ‘14: “Communication and Crisis Leadership: How Nonprofit Leaders Understand Effectiveness in Response to Organizational Crises” (Applied Communication Division)

For more information about the conference visit:

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Micah Azzano’s advice for graduates? Never leave home without your resume.


“Always take your resume wherever you go, and don’t be afraid to talk to the random people around you. You never know where a connection is going to happen.”

Micah (McClaren) Azzano ’05 can testify to the power of this advice. She received her first job offer out of college from a woman she met in the restroom of a popular Washington, D.C. restaurant.

It might sound odd, but Micah’s commitment to her job search led to an unusual encounter when she met a friend for dinner one night.  A visit to the restroom led to a discussion about employment opportunities in D.C., specifically about Micah’s urgent desire to find a public relations position.  A woman in the room overheard the conversation and asked Micah to send in her resume on Monday. Micah simply pulled her polished resume from her shoulder bag, smiled, and said there was no need to wait.

Pleasantly surprised by Micah’s readiness to provide her credentials, the woman responded, “I think I might have a job for you.” Micah got the job, the woman became her mentor, and the two have remained close professional confidants throughout Micah’s communication career.

Currently, Micah is the Director of Public Affairs for The National History Day in Washington, D.C. She is in charge of all outreach and communication activities including booking keynote speakers, organizing external events and managing press relations. Micah is also working on her master’s in Communication and Organizational Leadership at Gonzaga University.

Micah came to Drury from Claremore, Okla., and she graduated with majors in Advertising and Public Relations and minors in Design Arts and Global Studies. She served on The Mirror staff and was involved with the Free Arts Association and Delta Delta Delta.

An internship at National Public Radio took Micah from the Midwest to the East Coast. When the internship ended, she wanted to stay in Washington, D.C., but she didn’t have a job lined up. That’s when the infamous restaurant conversation launched her PR career.  She fell in love with the D.C. area because of the residents’ passion for community activism. She also met her husband, Jim, in D.C. and they now devote much of their spare time to supporting community causes. “My husband and I stay heavily involved in different nonprofits,” says Micah.

Micah attributes her readiness for the public relations field to the PR classes that required her dress up for Professional Day and the opportunity to participate in a Midwest public relations competition where she won first place in the crisis communication event.

For those students searching for a professional path, Micah offers the following advice:

“Be willing to strike up a conversation. You need to be bold on how you approach your job search, especially when you’re just starting out. You need to find a way to make yourself invaluable so no one will want to let you go and they will support every decision you make after that.”

And that is exactly what Micah did early in her career.

While working at the Department of Labor, Facebook was just being opened up to the public. The Secretary of Labor at the time needed someone to teach her how to use Facebook because she saw it as potentially valuable space to connect with others. Micah was the only employee who had a Facebook account, so she spent two hours teaching the Secretary of Labor how to use it. Ordinarily, this official would not have had a reason to converse with an employee at Micah’s rank. Following her own advice, Micah saw this Facebook session as an opportunity to make herself invaluable to an important organizational leader.

For Micah, making connections started at Drury and has helped her get to where she is today. To learn more about Micah’s professional journey, don’t miss the opportunity to connect with her on LinkedIn. 

Newsletter contributor:  Natasha Sanford

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Faculty News: Professors Curt and Cristina Gilstrap to present at national conference

PrintThis November, two Department of Communication professors traveled to Washington DC for the 2013 National Communication Association conference. Curt and Cristina Gilstrap both presented papers at this year’s annual conference. Cristina presented on Thursday, Nov. 21 in the Health Communication Division. She co-authored a paper titled “Walking on Hallowed Ground”: A Metaphorical Analysis of Home Hospice Nurses’ Experiences with Patients. This paper conveys the results of a study in which they analyzed metaphors used by hospice workers when describing their field.

Curt Gilstrap has authored a paper in the Environmental Communication Division titled ‘ “We’re Stewards, We’re Consumers, We’re Animals”: How Ecopreneurs Construct Stakeholders and Human-Nature Connection’ which was presented Friday, Nov. 22.  This paper explored how ecoprenuers create relationships between stakeholders and the environment. Cristina Gilstrap also  co-authored this composition.

For more information about the conference and the papers presented:

Health Communication Division

Environmental Communication Division


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Alumna Abby Glenn presents research findings at state conference

abby newsAbby Glenn, a 2013 graduate of Drury’ s M.A. in Communication program, used her time in graduate school to sharpen her knowledge of nonprofit communication. Her efforts paid off with an invitation to present the results of her graduate research at the 2013 Missouri CASA Conference on Nov. 8-9.

Abby’s project, “Being a Child’s Voice: Emotion Management of CASA Volunteers,” explores the expectations and challenges of Court Appointed Special Advocates. She is particularly interested in how CASA volunteers manage their emotions while performing their volunteer duties.

Interviews of 15 CASA volunteers revealed two key insights.  First, the challenges CASA volunteers experience are attributed to a strong sense of attachment the volunteer experiences with his or her CASA child.  The challenges focused on impartiality, emotional exhaustion, and the anticipation of emotions.  Second, the majority of research participants cope with the emotional challenges of their volunteer duty by communicating with three specific groups: the CASA supervisor, other CASA volunteers, and family.

Abby would like to use her research to develop training materials that will aid in the development and retention of CASA volunteers.  She is exploring the opportunity of presenting this research at the national CASA conference in July 2014.

After earning her master’s degree, Abby became the Community Recreation Specialist – Special Events Coordinator at Springfield-Greene County Park Board in Springfield. One of her key responsibilities is to plan the annual 5k Turkey Trot.

The way I was introduced to my current job was through connections I had made as a volunteer and as an intern.  Building connections is the biggest resource you have, and Drury University does a great job at providing a platform for you to build connections.