COMM notes

Keeping up with Drury's Department of Communication


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Sonya Serge followed her passion…to the beach

Sonya Serge PicGood-bye corporate America and hello sandy beaches. Meet Sonya Serge who recently traded in blazers and business meetings for bikinis and yoga.

After graduating from Drury in 2010, Sonya headed to Los Angeles in search of a career. She soon found a job at Live Nation, a company specializing in entertainment and promotions. Sonya earned a promotion to vice president of accounts and found herself working long hours with the teams of various musical artists to make sure Live Nation events were memorable. One of the most well-known celebrities she supported was Lady Gaga.

After two years on the job, Sonya realized her career wasn’t fulfilling her need to help others. She decided it was time to make a change and pursue her passion. She left Live Nation, hung up the office clothes, partnered with her sister Tedi, and headed to the beach to launch Sand Sisters.

Sand Sisters is a program where young girls and boys can hang out on the beach and escape the chaotic world around them. The participants paddle board and engage in various activities on the beach, including yoga and crafts. Everything is designed to build the self-esteem of the participants, which makes for a very different work day. For instance, she spent Valentine’s Day weaving floral headdresses with her fellow Sand Sisters.

What does Sonya think of her new job?

“Better. Just better. We get to meet so many new people in the community who want to help with what we are doing. Plus, I get to be my own boss.”

Sonya took over the business side of Sand Sisters and uses what she learned in the Department of Communication to find new community partners to support their goal of helping young girls and boys live life to the fullest.

While at Drury, Sonya majored in Advertising and Public Relations. Her favorite memories of campus are attending the famous Late Night Breakfast during finals week and playing in the snow with her Pi Beta Phi sisters. Sonya was an active member of AD Team. “It was so cool. It bonded us as a department and I even used the final presentation at my interview for Live Nation.” Sonya also credits Dr. Gilstrap’s research class in preparing her for the workplace.

Sonya’s advises Drury’s students to take risks.

“The more risks you take, the more you grow, so don’t take the safe route.”

Following her own advice, she is building a business and helping young people in the L.A. area discover their full potential.

Check out the latest news and happenings of the Sand Sisters on Facebook and read more about Sonya and Tedi in the Spring 2014 issue of Drury Magazine.

Newsletter contributor:  Sara Beck

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

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“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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Zac RantzZac Rantz, director of communication for Nixa Public Schools, has released his first book, Hindsight:  Lessons learned from the Joplin tornado and other crisis events. Contributing to the book is Dr. Stephen Kleinsmith, Nixa superintendent.

The Joplin school district was hit hard by this event, but through the chaos, many lessons for schools can be learned. Looking back at the days, weeks, and months after the tornado, as well as other crisis events, this book asks questions and gives answers to help schools better prepare for a crisis.

Zac, along with other communication colleagues, worked in Joplin in the weeks, months, and years after the tornado to help the school district get back on its feet.  The book offers insights from Zac’s experiences in Joplin as well as his efforts to develop a crisis communication plan for Nixa schools.   The book offers guidance to school administrators on how to prepare for a crisis.

Zac earned a bachelor’s in secondary English education and master’s in integrated marketing communication from Drury. Prior to his current position, he taught English and journalism at Nixa High School.

For his work in communications, he has been recognized with numerous honors including “20 Under 30” for 417 Magazine, “Rookie of the Year” for MOSPRA, “Men of the Year” from the Springfield Business Journal, “35 Under 35” in the nation for the National School Public Relations Association, and the 2014 national “Leadership Through Communication” award from the American Association of School Administrators and the National School Public Relations Association.

Zac’s free time is spent as the lead singer for Human Anyway, a local band whose singles are played in markets across the nation.

A portion of the proceeds from Hindsight:  Lessons learned from the Joplin tornado and other crisis events will go to Joplin schools to help with recovery efforts.