Outstanding Student Blogs

Every semester, students in Fundamentals of Digital and Online Media (FDOM), are required to create a blog and to post regularly. WordPress, Twitter and YouTube are three of the technologies students use. The choice of topic is left up to the student and each semester, we see a variety of topics, such as travel, food, diet, fashion, pets, sports, music and movies.

This semester, lecturer Salwa Khan had three students in her online FDOM course that chose topics that were somewhat unusual, and these students did an outstanding job of developing their blogs. They researched their topics thoroughly, wrote well and in an interesting way, found or created compelling images, credited outside sources, and in general, developed their blogs in a professional manner. Khan would like to commend these students for their impressive work, and share their blogs with you.

Maggie Bera: Actor Aesthetic – Designed to inspire and prepare young actors for the reality of the industry

John Hernandez: Extend the Sphere – Looking at the intersection of media, technology and politics

Courtney Whitehouse: Courtney Creative – Design blog

PR Campaigns students present ideas to Salvation Army executive development team

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Tuesday afternoon, the top two teams from Jennifer Scharlach’s Public Relations Campaigns class presented their ideas to the executive development team at the Salvation Army Austin Command. The Salvation Army challenged students to create campaigns to engage a younger demographic of donors to get involved with the Salvation Army and their “Rock the Red Kettle” annual event.

SJMC alumna Lauryn Ott helped establishing this partnership with a great international non-profit organization.

The Salvation Army’s USA National brand promise is ‘Doing the Most Good’. They are best known for the red kettles and Angel Tree programs at Christmas, Family Stores and The Salvation Army trucks and work during times of disaster.

Featured Student Work: Inside the Ring on the Outskirts of San Marcos

SJMC student Victoria Morin created this fantastic piece on Boxing Kings Gym in San Marcos, TX for her final project in Anna Mazurek’s Photojournalism course. Check out the slideshow and her story below!


Jose Perez opened Boxing Kings Gym in 2012 and trains boxers of all ages. It’s about a 10-minute drive off of U.S. Route 281, and is located on the outskirts of San Marcos, Texas.

Perez had been taking his son to train at another boxing gym, Bully Unit, for a few years before he decided to leave and open his own place. Bully Unit was also located in San Marcos and had an efficient facility, with enough space and equipment for training the dozens of members in attendance. The head coach began to sway his priorities away from the children, and staying there was no longer fulfilling for Perez and his son.

One day, Bully Unit was supposed to meet with some of the other boxing gyms from the San Marcos area so the boxers could spar, but the head coach didn’t show up.

“Everyone was ready, but the head coach wasn’t there,” said Perez. “My son was in the ring with no one in his corner. We had to continue without him, and when he finally showed up, everyone was already done. He wasn’t there for the kids, and we weren’t going to stay loyal to someone who didn’t care about his own team.”

That same night, Perez spoke with one of the other parents, Carlos Heredia, and agreed that they needed a new place to train their sons. They originally intended to coach the two kids on the weekends outside one of their homes, but after the other boxers, including Michael Coronado who was fighting professionally, heard about their idea, they wanted to follow. Bully Unit closed five months after that.

It started with four boxers, which was manageable for the pair of newly-proclaimed coaches. They started using a friend’s garage that already had boxing bags set up. Then, as people left Bully Unit and wanted to join Perez and Heredia, it grew from four members, to eight, then to 10 within weeks. They realized the small garage was no longer sufficient. They needed their own gym.

“I opened this gym mostly because I wanted my son to have a stable place to train for the Junior Olympics that were coming up,” said Perez. “After that, he went on to win a couple more fights. Then, all of a sudden he decided he didn’t want to do it anymore. He just quit. We could’ve closed then, but at the same time we want these kids to have a place to train.”

Boxing Kings Gym makes no profit. More money is put into running the gym than the owners accumulate from collecting the monthly membership fee of $40 from each boxer. When someone comes to their gym and isn’t able to afford the fee, they waive it. All the equipment, including the helmets, gloves and bags, was provided by Perez and his wife and is made available to anyone that walks into the gym. He and Heredia built the ring themselves out of wood, ropes and padding.

Perez and his wife, Sara, pride themselves in being able to provide the gym for the community. Most of the current members have been attending the gym since it opened, although not consistently. Most boxers will attend for two or three months, then they stop coming, mainly because of the lack of discipline.

Boxing requires commitment, intense exercise and self-control. Coronado, who is 25 years old, was one of the first four boxers to start training with Perez. He began boxing when he was 16 years old and entered his first fight on his 18th birthday: he won. After that victory, Coronado took a year off.

“Winning my first fight was a big accomplishment for me,” said Coronado. “I felt fulfilled because I had always wanted to box, so I took time off. After a year, I realized how much I missed it, so I came back. Then, I won a couple more fights, took another year off, and it’s been kind of a cycle since. I wasn’t focused, and that’s what killed me. I know if I had more discipline I’d be so much farther by now.”

This pattern is seen frequently by Perez and Jorge Rincon, the assistant coach who joined the team a year after it opened. They will spend time and effort into training each boxer, and then they stop showing up. It’s usually for a variety of reasons, mostly time constraints since most of its members are students. For others, the physical toll on their bodies is too much to bear.

Sebastian Alvarez is another member who has been attending Boxing Kings Gym on and off for four years. He was finally ready to enter his first fight and won, but soon after, he took a blow that was enough to make him quit for a few months. He returned about a year ago and is focused on preparing to fight again.

“He lost passion for boxing all because of that hit,” said Perez. “We train a lot of kids and get to the point where they’re ready to fight, and they disappear. For Sebastian, it took one body shot to make him quit. For others, they don’t even make it to their first fight and they run. They’ll get scared after their first time sparring. They get intimidated. We have the gym, but no fighters.”

Regardless of who leaves or why they left. Perez and his wife still welcome them back. They understand that every one of their boxers has their own obligations that might set them back and keep them from fully committing. It’s more than a team of boxers: it’s a family, and that’s why their members are loyal. When they are ready to return, it’s as if they never left.

If someone comes with the sole intention of getting fit, they are welcomed no less that someone who wants to compete. Each boxer, to the Perez family, contributes something to the gym that increases its value. No one is turned away.

“We’ve been here for those who need us,” said Perez. “How long? I don’t know. As long as the people in San Marcos need a gym, my doors will stay open.”

PR students gain real-world experience in Campaigns class

On Tuesday, a team of public relations students gained some real-world experience by presenting their final projects to SWBC, a diversified financial services company, in San Antonio.

The students had been working hard in their Public Relations Campaigns class to build a strategy and plan for retaining and engaging millennial employees. The top two teams from the class met with over 20 individuals from SWBC to present their campaigns to the company.

One of the owners of SWBC, Charlie Amato currently serves as a University Regent for the Texas State University System.

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication is grateful for the opportunity to work with a nationwide leader in the banking and insurance industry.

 

SJMC’s 2017 Awards Ceremony

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication honored its brightest and best students at the 2017 Awards Ceremony in Old Main on Tuesday. Proud parents, family members, faculty and staff joined in celebrating the scholars’ achievements. Check out the photo slideshow below for a visual recap of the event, and learn about our outstanding student honors!

Student Spotlight: Russell Reed

Theater kid-turned film enthusiast, Russell Reed has spent the last three years exploring his love for filmmaking and finding like-minded individuals in the process. This electronic media major is not only a self-taught filmmaker, but he also exemplifies authentic passion in a sometimes discouraging field. Only a sophomore, Reed demonstrates a great amount of dedication to his craft and doesn’t mind sharing his knowledge with others.

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Reed grew up in Houston and was in theater while attending high school. As the end of senior year approached, he knew he didn’t want to major in theater during college but at the time, Reed was producing comedy and suspense skits on YouTube. Although Reed realized the skits weren’t exactly Oscar winners, he explains that it was during this time when he realized he loved film and using his creativity.

“There wasn’t anything specific that led me to my love for film, it was sort of gradual. One day I caught myself watching a film, and I started to critique their acting and wanted to see how I could do it better.” says Reed.

Although still undecided about his college major, Reed knew he wanted to be at Texas State University and near Austin’s film community. Starting off as business major, Reed realized electronic media was the best route to encourage his passion.

While still maintaining his comedy channel, Reed decided to make a second channel on YouTube that was specifically dedicated to filmmaking. The creation of ViLITE films gave Russell an outlet to produce portfolio-worthy short films, how-to tutorials, and even camera reviews.


Russell Reed hopes to make it as a director or director of photography one day. Whether it is for films or television, Reed explains he would love to stick to the horror genre but will be satisfied as long as his work has an impact. Reed’s overall goal is simple, to be a great storyteller.

“I love telling good stories, that’s really what it is all about. Capturing the cinematically pleasing images to complete a story.” says Reed.

With no certifications or film coursework, Russell is self-taught using online resources. He explains how this drives his creativity even more and brings boundless possibilities. Every aspect of his life is motivation to continue to create and it is not limited to coursework.

Life as a filmmaker has completely altered Reed’s perception of the world around him. He explains, “I can no longer walk around and have the perception like a normal human being. Just walking around in the world, everything I see, everything I look at and everything I touch is an emotion that can be geared toward storytelling.”

One of the latest projects Reed has worked on was a collaborative effort with the late Travis Green. Although Green had passed before production started filming, Reed and collaborators made sure that film was completed. Reed explains how this project was important to them since it was one of the last projects Green put his hands on and they are trying their hardest to have it showcased through Texas State.

As for advice Reed has for others thinking about pursuing film, he says the the most important attributes are staying confident in your work, continuing to create and surrounding yourself with like-minded people. This recipe for success seems to be working for this dedicated young filmmaker.

Reed’s last piece of advice is that, “Although all odds are against artists, your safe route should never be your priority.”

Congratulations to Veronica A. Polanco!

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Ms. Polanco is the first recipient of the Mary Rose Brown Endowed Scholarship.  She is a freshman Electronic Media major from Roma, Texas.  Veronica was a featured speaker at the Endowment Appreciation Luncheon hosted by President Denise M. Trauth and the Texas State University Development Foundation. The luncheon, held on March 28th, recognized the many donors who make a difference in the lives of our students.

We are proud of Ms. Polanco and excited for her future here in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication!

Texas State’s 2017 NSAC Team Continues Winning Streak

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication and McCoy College of Business is proud to announce that Texas State’s 2017 AAF-NSAC team has placed third at the AAF District 10 Convention and Student Competition for its campaign for corporate sponsor Tai Pei. The team also won the Special Judges Award for Best Media Plan.

In addition to the team win, advertising and communication design student, Angela Rhys received the Jeanie Ruedy scholarship for $2,500, and Breonna Ruffin was recognized for being selected as one of AAF’s Most Promising Multicultural Students for 2017.

Because the Tenth District is a super district, the 18 entrants from universities across Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Arkansas are split into two pods of nine schools each. Led by co-advisors Dr. Rick Wilson and Ms. Jenny Buschhorn, Texas State competed directly with the University of Central Oklahoma, who won first place, second place winner Texas Christian University and other past district winners including Texas A&M.

SJMC alumna and PR professional Jennifer Walsh visits Texas State

SJMC alumna Jennifer Walsh visited Texas State University on Friday morning as a guest speaker in an Intro to Public Relations class. Walsh, who is currently Head of Communications at Covestro, highlighted the importance of writing, personal branding and crisis management as a public relations professional.

Walsh, a former journalism major, said she never imagined she would be working in PR.

“When I was a student, I worked at newspapers and was heavily involved in writing. I never thought I would work with public relations, but now I love it. And I apply my journalism background into everything I do,” said Walsh.

Day-to-day, Walsh is in charge of both internal and external communication for the Bayer subsidiary located in Baytown, TX, including the planning and development of content for electronic billboards, the printed newsletter, the e-newsletter, and even flyers and posters.

“It doesn’t matter where you’re going – you need a foundation in writing,” said Walsh.

Much of Walsh’s job also focuses on building Covestro’s corporate reputation and developing a plan for crisis management. Because most crises can’t be predicted, Walsh explained the importance of being “a good corporate citizen,” saying, “If you haven’t made any donations to charity or you don’t have a presence on social media before a crisis happens, it’s too late.”

Walsh said Covestro has a strategic approach to the events and philanthropies it supports, but it mostly focuses on STEM initiatives, environmental causes, education and workforce development.

“We’re a chemical company, and we have emissions. So much of our strategy is built on how we can offset some of those negative impacts,” said Walsh.

One such initiative is Solar Impulse, a plane that flew around the world last year running completely on solar energy. Covestro not only funded the plane, but its products went into its development.

While Walsh said she loves being part of these positive company-wide efforts, one of the most rewarding aspects of her job is giving back to her local community.

“Especially in this job, I get to do things that benefit the local communities where I live and where my kids go to school,” said Walsh. “It’s things like that that make you feel good.”

Walsh advised students to bone up their digital portfolios and social media. “If I’m hiring someone, I’m looking at your social media,” said Walsh.

Walsh said Twitter, Instagram, Linked In and her personal website have helped her secure her online brand.

Many thanks to Ms. Walsh for speaking to our students on Friday. We love hearing from professionals in the industry, especially SJMC alums!

Mass Media & Society Cyber Club

Dr. Susan Weill is launching a new TRACS-based club for SJMC students! The club has no dues or fees and focuses on how the mass media interprets the world, especially through movies, television programs and documentaries.

Here’s how the Mass Media & Society Cyber Club will function:

  • A movie, television program or documentary will be posted monthly for members to watch. (Members will receive a notification email.)
  • After members watch the movie, television program or documentary, they will then post an observation and reply to other members’ observations.  Observations should focus on how the movie, television program or documentary might impact society.

Interested students should email Dr. Weill at weill@txstate.edu to be added to the Mass Media & Society Cyber Club membership.