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Meet a Real Communicator

Name: Sarah Strange, video editor

Education: Columbia Union College, Bachelor of Science in communication with broadcast media concentration and a public relations minor

Location: KCRA television station, the NBC affiliate in Sacramento, California (one of the top 20 markets in the U.S.)

The Job: Sarah wants to become a television reporter. But because the field of broadcast journalism is so competitive, first she has to get her foot in the door.So for now Sarah prepares video footage for the 5:00 and 6:00 morning news at a major TV station. That means she begins her work shift at midnight!She meets with producers and gets a run-down of what’s going to be aired that morning. She then gathers raw footage and begins piecing film in the editing room, matching the visuals with the script.Sarah describes her job as a sort of storytelling—she takes all the details and binds them together to create a cohesive story.Vacation days are rare, but even on her days off, Sarah goes out with reporters to gain more experience. She also practices producing news segments so she’ll have an impressive résumé to show when she begins applying for entry-level reporter positions next year.

Words to Live by “Magazine, television, and radio are the media that young people are paying attention to. So why don’t we use them to get their attention? Also, if we had a stronger, broader Christian broadcasting network, we could reach a greater audience. Instead of 300 people listening to a sermon in a church, 3,000 could hear it over the radio.”

Communications for you?

Consider Communications as a college major if you're crazy about:
• writing (scripts, feature articles, newsletters—they’re all about words)
• public speaking (think speech class . . . just so, so, so much more)
• relating to people (were you voted best personality?)

Avoid Communications as a college major if you get nauseated by:
• deadlines (hey, the news won’t accommodate your schedule, no matter how much you beg)
• doing research (this is not all about creative writing)
• meeting new people (extreme shyness is not exactly conducive to schmoozing)



Purvis Barringer is a real people person. So when it came time to choose a major in college, he looked for a field that required lots of interaction with people.

Initially he majored in biology, with aspirations of becoming a doctor. But somehow that didn’t feel like the right field for him. So he moved on to nursing, then to elementary education, and then to theology.

Soon Purvis began looking again, this time considering English as his major. So he wandered to the English Department to look for an adviser to talk with.

When he couldn’t find one, he stepped into the Communication Department to ask the whereabouts of all the English professors. That’s when he noticed an interesting bulletin board announcement. The announcement listed public relations as a career choice in the Communication Department.Intrigued, he asked a communication professor what public relations is all about.“After he explained it to me, I was sold on the idea. I changed my major that very day, and I haven’t changed since,” says Purvis.Today Purvis is a senior communication major at Columbia Union College (CUC) with an emphasis in public relations and minors in speech communication and broadcast media.

Purvis is still very much a people person, but with one difference: now he knows what being a people person is all about.

The communication major focuses on the intricacies of human relations—the ways in which people relate to each other through speech, body language, and different forms of media, such as television, radio, and newspapers. By understanding communication patterns, students become better communicators themselves. And ultimately, communication majors become experts at relating to people—whether through spoken or written words.

“So then what?” you may ask. “What kinds of jobs are there for experts in communication?”

Let’s just ask Purvis. After all, he’s a good communicator.

On Course: After learning how to communicate effectively, what can you do with a degree in communication?

Purvis: The great thing about having a degree in communication is that you aren’t limited in your career goals. You have many options.

For example, if you want to do something in TV or radio, simply choose broadcast media as an emphasis. Interested in being a sports representative or a public relations manager? Then public relations is the field for you.

If your desire is to be a motivational speaker, then speech communication is your best option. Do you like writing? Journalism is the route to take. You could even go into law, advertising, or acting.

OC: Well, judging from the name of the major, it seems obvious that anyone going into this field should be very outgoing.

Purvis: Yes, one of the qualities people majoring in communication should have is the gift of gab—you must be willing to open your mouth and talk. You also can’t be afraid of getting up in front of people.

But aside from the people part, communication classes involve writing a lot of papers. Be prepared to write, write, and write!

OC: So I take it that you’ve written a lot of papers during your collegiate career?

Purvis: When I first started classes in this major, I pecked at the keys. Now I type 30 to 40 words per minute. Get the point?

OC: Is writing long papers the thing that peeves you most about the communication major?

Purvis: That and the reading, which ranges from 30 to 50 pages a night per class. And all the research you have to do at the library in order to write your papers.

I’ve sure spent long hours in front of the computer screen. For the past year and a half I’ve been wearing glasses. All my life I had 20/20 vision—until I became a communication major!

OC: Come on! Don’t you do other things besides write? What’s an interesting experience you’ve had being a communication major?

Purvis: At CUC every communication major is required to earn COOP [cooperative education] hours. You have to spend time at a job or internship that’s related to your field of study.

To earn my COOP hours, I got a job at Black Entertainment Television. The hours I worked there went toward my minors in broadcast media and speech communication.

At BET I worked as an assistant producer for Heart and Soul, a health program for women. I even had the opportunity to produce a show segment. I wrote the script, got the footage, and edited the film. I also had to create a schedule, and arrange for all the necessary transportation, and get the camera crew together.

At first I felt a little overwhelmed. The biggest challenge for me was meeting the deadlines. But once I became accustomed to the deadlines, they weren’t that bad.

OC: Is producing what you want to do?

Purvis: No, God’s called me to be a pastor. My long- term goal is to pastor a church.

OC: What do you think your degree has to do with Christianity?

Purvis: God commissioned humans to preach the gospel throughout the world. And in order to spread the gospel, good communication is vital.

The media for spreading the gospel today include television, radio, the Internet, writing, and speaking. In order for the church to keep up with these media, there must be Christian men and women who are not only effective communicators but are also in touch with the latest communication technology.

Understanding theories and methods of communication helps us send and receive the proper messages with everyone we come in contact with.

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