SJMC Study Abroad Part Four: Rome Culture

The following post is the last of a four-part series regarding the SJMC’s 2017 study abroad trip to London and Rome, contributed by graduate student, Joshua Morrison. Be sure to check out the previous three articles if you haven’t already!

In our last post about the 2017 London/Europe study abroad summer session, we talked about how this year’s students were provided the unique opportunity to explore Rome. What we haven’t yet had the opportunity to discuss are the wondrous venues for cultural exploration that the city offers.

With a history spanning over 2500 years, Rome is among the oldest inhabited places in Europe. Its history, both ancient and modern, is riddled with reasons to be excited.

The Colosseum is unlike any structure found in the United States

Among the most marvelous sites students had the chance to visit were the Colosseum and the Roman Forums. These ancient structures are unlike anything one might encounter in the United States, and, despite having seen pictures over the years, students were in awe.

“Being able to see it in person was so different!” said senior Ashley Johnson. “It was amazing.”

Senior Victor Z. Glenn was particularly excited to visit the Forums because of their proximity to Palatine Hill, a significant landmark in Roman mythology.

“It is the alleged home of the wolves that raised Remus, one of the founders of Rome,” he said.

Some students, like senior Kaley Consford, were most interested in a more modern attraction: Cinecitta, known as the Hollywood of Rome. She was, in particular, excited to get a first-hand look at film sets.

“While walking around, I truly felt like I was in a ghost town,” she said. “I would try and imagine a live movie scene happening, or even imagine if the sets were real.”

While in Italy, many students used their free day to take trips to other corners of Italy.

Cinecitta is known to many as the Hollywood of Rome

Senior Brooke Vega spent her time in a Tuscan village, soaking up traditional Italian scenery and enjoying the cuisine.

“The view was amazing from both sides of the village…fields of olive trees, vineyards and the golden grass,” she said. “We had a delicious three-course lunch at a winery.”

Denver Donchez, a senior, spent her time in Florence and was particularly taken with the adventure that comes with traveling without a guide in a foreign city.

“If you’ve never been lost in a foreign city, I would wholeheartedly recommend it,” she said. “There’s just something about being completely immersed in a foreign city that forces you to embrace uncertainty.”



SJMC Study Abroad Part Three: Rome

The following article is the third of a four-part series contributed by SJMC graduate student, Joshua Morrison. Check back tomorrow for the conclusion, or make your way down the page to see what opportunities London had to offer the students. 

With four years now under its belt, the London/Europe study abroad program through the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Texas State University has established an exciting and dynamic format.

For the past four years, the program leaders have taken students to London and a revolving door of additional locations. In past years, the program has had students travel to Cardiff, Edinburgh and Paris. This year’s secondary destination was the grand city of Rome.

By having a rotating stable of locations, the program is able to continuously make new professional contacts for the SJMC and its students. This year, students were able to visit both Il Fatto Quotidiano, a young, independent Italian newspaper, and RAI, Italy’s national broadcasting company.

For students, these visits provided a rare opportunity to see inside news organizations operating in a vastly different context than their own. Unlike the United States, Italy has only two major news outlets. Of these two outlets, one is state-owned and the other is owned by an important Italian politician.

It was thus a fascinating, and inspiring, experience for students to visit an independent news organization like Il Fatto Quotidiano, which has to struggle against the duopoly to find a place in the media market. Students were quick to praise the organization’s independent spirit.

“Stepping into the building, you knew they were something different,” said senior David Coronado. “They are the media that is free in a country with restricted media.”

Graduate student Breanna Salinas echoed Coronado’s sentiments.

“I was completely impressed with Il Fatto Quotidiano because they are fearless in what they write,” she said.

Nonetheless, the students’ visit to RAI provided a valuable perspective as well.

Joshua Morrison, a graduate student, was particularly interested in the way RAI employees conceived of their jobs.

“It was fascinating because even though RAI is state-owned, the employees were still insistent that they work for the public, not the government,” he said.

The visit to RAI also provided students with the unique opportunity to watch a live, in-studio news broadcast, and see all of the technology and preparation that goes into the broadcasting process. 

“Seeing all of the technology and watching how the news program runs behind the scenes was the best,” said graduate student Dylan Lochridge-Fletcher. “I grew up with my dad being a technical director for a local news channel, so I can appreciate all of the hard work that is put in to make a newscast happen at RAI. “

SJMC Study Abroad Part Two: London Culture

The following article is the second of a four-part series contributed by SJMC graduate student, Joshua Morrison. Stay tuned each day his week for more about the European trip or scroll down to check out yesterday’s post if you missed it!

What makes the study abroad format so unique is that the learning is decidedly not limited to the classroom or any formal setting. The unique appeal of the study abroad format is that so much of the learning comes from firsthand, unique cultural experiences.

While this year’s London/Europe study abroad team certainly enjoyed fascinating conversations with industry leaders in London, just see our last post, their experience was made complete by what the city of London itself had to offer.

Some students, like junior Lauren Frank, were most interested in London’s status as a cosmopolitan cultural hub. She said the London Eye, a giant Ferris wheel on the River Thames, gave her a breathtaking view that really drove this home.

“Watching all the massive castles and skyscrapers become smaller and smaller was humbling,” she said. “I found myself in awe of how vast and multi-cultural London really was.”

Others, like junior Lucero Ibarra, were particularly interested in the outlying, more rural areas. She used her free day to get away from the city and explore Rochester, a village with a slower pace of living.

“Surrounded by woods and lakes, I got to experience what my English friend called ‘the real England,’” she said. “Seeing the lush countryside showed me that it was worth going outside of the city to find adventure.”

The easy access to richly historical sites provided ample opportunity for cultural exploration as well. All of the students took a tour of the Tower of London and had the opportunity to see The Crown Jewels. For some, this experience was the highlight of the trip.

“The experience I had at the Tower of London was all my historical fantasies come to life,” said senior Margaret-Katherinne Fast. “A step into a time of intrigue, mystery, and royal betrayal.”

Just being in London provided students with a glimpse into a different cultural climate and way of life. Perhaps one of the most interesting things students had the opportunity to do was simply talk to people, to hear them describe their way of life. That activity certainly resonated with senior Ashley Fajardo.

“I got to sit down and talk with people from the city and see how they lived,” she said. “They made me realize that it’s okay to slow down and take the scenes in, that’s what life is all about.”

Whatever their favorite part of their time in London, students are likely to return to the states with a tiny piece of British culture. Junior Victoria Chacon, for example, fell in love with tea time.

“I hope to incorporate that in my everyday life,” she said.

SJMC Study Abroad Part One: London

The following four-part series regarding the SJMC’s Study Abroad program to London and Rome was contributed by SJMC graduate student, Joshua Morrison. Check back each day this week for coverage of events that took place in Europe this June. 

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s London/Europe summer study abroad program just wrapped up its fourth annual trip, and brought back its fourth group of forever-changed students.

For this series of posts, we talked to some of those students, and we’ll be sharing the ways in which the program broadened their horizons and provided them with an experience they’ll never forget.

The trip began in London, where the program leaders, Drs. Sandhya Rao and Judy Oskam, and Mr. Harry Bowers, arranged for an impressive itinerary of visits to both media organizations and cultural sites. For this particular piece, students shared their experiences and discuss what they learned from the former.

One of the opportunities that provided students with particular excitement was getting to visit the headquarters of two leading news organizations: The Guardian and CNN London. Each visit provided a unique perspective on a vibrant and dynamic field.

As a historically print-oriented news outlet, The Guardian gave students a firsthand look at how one of the media landscape’s biggest names is adapting to the digital era. Eleni Stefanou, who is The Guardian’s head of social, discussed the organization’s efforts to engage readers through social and video content.

Stefanou’s talk provided students with the opportunity to hear from a professional about the industry changes they have been learning about in their coursework.

“It was inspiring to see how journalism is not a dying art, but a changing art,” said senior David Coronado. “The writers, editors and all of The Guardian’s employees are so dedicated to their work.”

The program’s visit to CNN London was made possible by a Texas State alum, Bharati Naik, who serves as a planning producer for the organization.

While students were thrilled to get some photographs of themselves sitting behind the CNN news desk, it was the in-depth tour that really stunned.

“Getting to see the production side of an international newsroom really gave a lot of us perspective and it was unbelievable to see it first hand,” said senior Madison Morriss.

The itinerary also included opportunities for students to learn from public relations practitioners.

Students received a half-day seminar from Weber Shandwick, a global firm who shared their varied expertise and provided a comprehensive look at all of the work that goes into successful campaigns.

“It was incredible to hear about award-winning campaigns and have each director of the different branches of the company explain their input into the end product,” said senior Chris Soliz. “Seeing how such a large company uses communication internally while creating effective communication externally in such powerful ways was such a valuable experience.”



#FeaturedWorkFriday: Madeleine Page’s Internship with

Everyone has at least one person in his or her life who is gifted with the passion for daily horoscope readings. Whether they’re conveniently found online or in your favorite lifestyle magazine, most people take the readings with a grain of salt. But others take them as a way of life, following each line as closely as you would follow instructions when assembling a piece of IKEA furniture.

Next time you check out your horoscope for the week, you might be reading the works of Madeleine Page, a Digital Media Innovation undergraduate. Madeleine recently secured an internship with and has been contributing to the site all summer.

Madeleine Page is an undergraduate student in the SJMC at Texas State

After finding the internship posting on Linkedin, Madeleine responded immediately with her application and resume.

“The process of securing the internship took place in December, when I had applied, and it consisted of numerous phone calls and Skype interviews. I believe I had about three phone calls, all from different people, and 2 Skype interviews,” said Madeleine.

After enduring the lengthy application process, Madeleine was informed that she had been selected to work with the company throughout the summer, performing research, writing articles, producing social media posts, and performing search engine optimization (SEO) for the company’s website, which is a fancy term for tracking keywords and ranking them to ensure traffic is being directed to the website.

“I track the website’s progress through multiple sites such as Google Analytics and SEMrush. I have also created editorial dashboards for the editors, which contains page views, unique page views, bounce rates, etc. for each article posted. Overall, I’ve gotten a taste of many different fields within the company,” said Madeleine.

Confused about some of these fancy technical terms and job descriptions? This is just one way that Madeleine has demonstrated her expertise in the field of digital media through the SJMC.

“The Texas State SJMC prepared me for my internship by teaching me how to correctly write for a company through AP Style and how to write better in general. SJMC also prepared me for the analytical tasks because of social media, multimedia, and digital media classes I took,” said Madeleine.

If nothing else, Madeleine notes that her studies at Texas State have given her the confidence and resilience to work in the highly competitive industry, alongside highly trained individuals.

“Overall, I felt prepared to go into my internship because SJMC and the wonderful professors who have guided me throughout the years in multiple ways, constantly making me a better writer and educating me on the digital media world,” said Madeleine.

Since starting with the company, working closely with other graduates of the same field, Madeleine has learned the value of education and internships firsthand. Nevertheless, Madeleine is quick to note that an internship should be selected with great consideration.

“When looking for an internship, I think it’s important to really contemplate what kind of job you would like to have in the future and pick an internship that closely resembles that job. I say this because internships really do give you a taste for the job and you are able to evaluate what work you enjoyed, and what work you despised. It gives you a better understanding of which direction you should go after graduating.”

Whether you are a zodiac skeptic or a horoscope fanatic, keep an eye on and its social media platforms to see what Madeleine is working on throughout the remainder of the summer. If you have a bad fortune for a day or week, keep your chin up; the stars will soon align in your favor, just as they were for Madeleine. With a little luck and a great amount of hard work, we believe your fortune will be prosperous.

Check out some ofMadeleine’s work on these social media platforms:







SJMC Graduates Develop New LGBTQ Magazine ‘BRUNCHCLUB’

Check out this new edition: Two of Texas State’s SJMC graduates have been selected to contribute to the magazine ‘Hello Mr.’ as part of a residency called ‘The Issues.’ Ernesto Macias and Colby Anderson are 24-year-old graduates from the SJMC, now both dedicated to their creation, ‘BRUNCHCLUB’, an editorial that focuses on the quest for truth, culture, and diversity within the LGBTQ community.

The objective of ‘The Issues,’ which will feature Anderson’s and Macias’ work, is to promote and feature stories of LGBT individuals that cannot be found in mainstream media. ‘Hello Mr.’ will be in a partnership of sorts with these creators, propelling them into a larger spotlight by offering them experience, mentorship, and a vast readership. According to the publication, ‘Hello Mr.‘ is a magazine about men who date men.

According to the magazine’s Kickstarter page, “We are a collective of artists and writers that reflect the diverse perspective of the LGBTQ community. When we launched in 2012, we sought to create a platform for emerging talent and unheard voices, and add to the momentum for more inclusive representation in media.”

While Macias and Anderson are proud and excited at the opportunity of their residency, the brand they have built in New York City thus far is beyond impressive. The two note their issue will include, “poetry from the West Texan desert, a day-in-the-life account of a gender queer babe in Ohio, an exploration of the Latinx body in nature, a profile on Costa Rican model, activist, and artist Hazkel, and more.”

The two graduates are now navigating a Kickstarter campaign to gather funds for ‘The Issues’, an endeavor that will help raise awareness for the new stories and promote change within the community.

According to the Kickstarter page, “The funds raised will support the production costs of ‘BRUNCHCLUB‘ and allow it to be distributed inside the next issue of ‘Hello Mr.’ later this summer.”

Check out their campaign to learn more and help them in their mission to keep print alive! Follow their progress on their website ‘BRUNCHCLUB‘, at ‘Hello Mr.’, or any of their social platforms: Instagram and Twitter.

#FeaturedWorkFriday: Pablo Mejia

SJMC undergraduate Pablo Mejia contributed this excellent piece for his final project in Photojournalism course instructed by Anna Mazurek. Mejia showcases the artistic talents of “The Man in the Mirror,” Texas State University bus driver, Kim Gardner. 

Texas State University students fill the maroon bus from both sides. It’s 7:30 A.M. as bus driver Kim Garner, greets the students that slowly drag themselves to fill the seats. The door closes and the braking system makes a loud, “TSST” sound. Garner looks back in his rear-view mirror making sure the students are prepared for the morning commute to school. He takes a quick look over his shoulder and swiftly turns the wheel, making a left onto Aquarena Springs Drive. The chatter from the radio fills the air as the students pull out their phones and check their social media. Garner pulls up to the intersection, waits for the light to turn green and waves at the other Texas State bus driver across the road. He drops the students off at the Undergraduate Academic Center and completes Route 20.

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Kim Garner is 63 years old. He is from Nordic descent and has green, hazy eyes. His blonde hair falls just short of covering his brows. With a full goatee, it’s hard to tell his age. He grew up in Laguna Beach, California with his dad, his stepbrother Stephan and his stepmother. Growing up on the west coast, Garner attended three different high schools. During his senior year, he attended a journalism class in which his teacher recommended he drop the class. She stated that ‘a jock’ would not be able to pass her class. The teacher teased Garner, giving him the task of writing his own novel during the semester. She was surprised when Garner presented her with an outline to a story. For the past 25 years, his paintings have been flections from the novel he first wrote in high school.

“Working through discouragement is really interesting. You could be a very talented person, in any human endeavor. It could be anything, a doctor, an engineer, but you won’t ever obtain anything if you give up.” Garner said as he looked dead ahead, his gaze fixed on the traffic.

Garner sets up his up his latest painting in the living room of his studio apartment. The historic house is split up into individual apartments. Garner and his wife share their home with their two dogs.

Garner empties out a box full of acrylic paint onto the floor. He shifts towards a rectangular paint tray, squirts out a good amount of red and blue and gets to work. Garner’s work is always of substantial size. The stretched canvas he has propped up comes up to his chest. Every so often he takes a step back, paint brush in his mouth, and looks hard at the painting.

“This has been the past 12 years of my life” Garner said. The woman in Garner’s painting is wearing a red dress with a raven perched sternly on her shoulder. For about five years he had painted “Magdalena” without face. He wanted the character to have an original face, something thatcould be uniquely his.

“It has taken me two years to finish out a painting, you can’t rush it. There are moments when your painting is taking on its own voice.” Garner said. “You must have something that’s you, it could be music or anything else. They must look at your work and say that’s a Kim Garner.”

Garner stores some of his painting in a storage unit on the outskirts of San Marcos. He slides the metal green door up and one by one, takes out several large-scale canvases. The paintings are filled with brushstrokes made in vibrant, primary colors. The narrow hallway is filled with

Garner’s last 25 years of work. Garner’s paintings reflect his environment. In his series about a Hispanic woman, “Raquel” is pictured with boots and a cowboy hat. She wears a bandolier and has plenty of guns. In one painting, she is pictured sitting down, holding onto her rifle and large knife with a bottle of liquor nearby. As a painter, Garner has the creative freedom to paint anything he wants. His horses are orange and blue and the mountains are a vivid purple. The clouds he paints are arranged in oddly trademarked shapes.

“As a painter, I can get away with stuff.” Garner said. “I could give this painting to my son who works with troubled children, he could show it to his kids and they could give it a completely different idea that I had.”
Garner remains contemplative as he slows the bus to a halt, flinging open the doors to release the students to their perspective stops. He patiently waits for some students running towards the bus as he returns his glance to the reflection of the rear-view mirror. He glimpses up at the exiting passengers and offers a kindly grin.

“I try to make even just small exchanges over time, you get to know the kids.” Garner said. “Those small exchanges make you who you are.”

“I’m a believer in the word reflection, you must take time to reflect on the things you are doing in order to make the next creative decision.” Garner said. “If you are going to make the world a better place, you must start with yourself.” Garner says good bye to the last remaining students as they empty the bus. He keeps his cool as other drivers speed around him in their commute home.

“Today I could meet someone that is going to completely change my life and I wouldn’t even know it. Life is that unpredictable.” Garner said.

“You have to be aware that who you are and how you act is going to impact who you’re going to meet. If I’m unapproachable then how [will] a person that is going to change your life ever meet you?” Garner looks forward with an open mind about the people he encounters and the experiences that may shape his future paintings. The day winds down as he completes Route 12.