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Strategic Communication


Denali Herrick

Denali Herrick ’24 

Why did you decide to study strategic communication?  

I came to Whitworth wanting to major in journalism but quickly realized that I am more interested in marketing and public relations when I took Dr. Erica Salkin’s Publicity & Public Relations class my first year. So, I switched my concentration to strategic communication and joined Beyond the Pines, Whitworth’s student-run public relations agency.  

What classes have been your favorite so far?  

My favorite classes I have taken are Publicity & Public Relations and Graphic Design. In both classes, I learned valuable skills that I will use in the future, and in graphic design, I am able to use my creativity to make fun projects which I really enjoy.  

Tell us about a unique experience or project you’ve worked on for your major.

A unique experience that I had was interning at a cat shelter. I spent the whole summer hanging out and videoing cats for social media and writing cute bios from the cats’ perspective to get them adopted. It really solidified that this is what I want to be doing, and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.  

What advice would you give to someone thinking about majoring in strategic communication?

Communication is a very versatile major that can be used in my different areas. So, my advice would be to explore why you are interested in communication and which aspects of it by taking a variety of classes and applied communication such as our public relations agency, yearbook, newspaper, radio or forensics.  

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is doing marketing and communications work for a nonprofit, specifically supporting animal welfare. I had the amazing opportunity to intern at a cat shelter in Boise over the summer, and that is definitely something that I want to continue doing after I graduate.  

Who has made a difference for you at Whitworth?

  1. Nichole Bogarosh – She is the advisor for Beyond the Pines and has really helped me grow in my PR skills with the agency. She is also someone that I just love talking to because she is very personable.  
  2. Ellie Stephens – She has been my best friend since sophomore year, and I don’t think school would be the same without her fun energy and support.  
  3. David Sloan – I have loved taking business classes with him. He is very supportive, and his classes are very engaging and fun. 

Nara ShinNara Shin '25

Why did you decide to study strategic communication?  

Growing up in a family that lived based on governmental and local nonprofit organizational help, I have wanted to help families in hopeless situations by engaging with organizations whose vision is to work for equity and inclusion in society. With my passion, I was in several leadership roles in my high school volunteer teams that intended to make changes in society. Although those teams were important to make a better society, and our team leaders were happy to do good work, we needed more interesting ways to attract students and local community members to join our mission. I realized how communicating with the world in a better way can introduce a certain organization's vision and the work they do, and without a communicator, the mission cannot be driven. I decided to study strategic communication to connect an organization's call to work for equity and inclusion with people who are seeking the call.

What classes have been your favorite so far, and why?  

Two communication courses, Editing for Multimedia and Publicity & Public Relations, have allowed me to learn how to use digital, graphic and writing tools to deliver messages in more impactful ways. Both were taught by Dr. Erica Salkin, who is a great, enthusiastic communicator and mentor. We learned how to highlight brands' missions and values with their signature color palettes and fonts on websites, social media and physical advertisements. My other two favorite classes were sociology classes, Deviance, Crime & Criminal Justice and Social Stratification: Power, Prestige & Wealth. I loved learning how to listen to and understand people with stigmas who have a different perspective from society's norms. These classes stirred my anger and curiosity toward the unequal society and helped me develop empathy and a community-based mindset.

Tell us about a unique experience or project you've worked on for your major.  

I have worked for Canopy (Whitworth's yearbook team) as a writing editor. This opportunity led me to capture campus events, new/retiring faculty members, seasons, seniors and students and unite our differences into one community as Whitworth.  

What advice would you give to someone thinking about majoring in strategic communication?
I think Whitworth is a small but powerful space where you can learn and use your experience and skills. I would recommend engaging with communication-based groups like The Whitworthian, Beyond the Pines,Canopy and

What's your dream job?  

My dream job is to become a social worker.

Who are three people who have made a difference for you at Whitworth?

Rachel Ayres '22, whom I met through The Whitworthian in my first semester at Whitworth. She was my editor, and I was a news writer. Through Rachel, I learned how to empathize, show love and mentor someone. She approached me with a Christmas letter, thank-you note and goodbye letter when she was here at Whitworth even though I was on the team quietly just for a semester, and she sent me messages regularly to check in even after her graduation. Rachel not only has a talent for writing, editing and leading a team but is also a great role model to me with her big heart for others.

Next, Lulú González, who works in the student diversity, equity & inclusion office. Lulú is my favorite mentor and “mom” at Whitworth. As a cultural-diversity advocate, I have worked closely with Lulú and grew up a lot by her influence. She takes care of international students who study far away from home, thinks of them as her children, and plans events for them to feel belonging in a totally new environment. She has taught me love based on how to treat everyone as my family and how to be helpful to them when they are in hardships.

Lastly, Dr. Nichole Bogarosh. I met Dr. B through several communication classes but mainly through the student-led public relations agency Beyond the Pines. I was a quiet student in classes, but she has been curious about me and my opinions whether she asked me in person after classes or via email. She recommended me for an off-campus scholarship based on my communications to work for diversity, equity and inclusion. She is an amazing mentor who fights against a society full of stereotypes and segregation and teaches students with her enthusiasm. I really appreciate her a lot.

Why did you choose to attend Whitworth?

Having the dream to be a helper for others, I attended another college in my freshman year, which was a public school that more than 30,000 students attended. Events at school were huge, and they were more like festivals with professional technologies. However, I felt isolated whenever I attended an event at the school. No one approached me or remembered my name or even felt my existence. Also, I experienced severe racism or microaggression from school faculty members and students. Undergoing the most difficult time in my life, I decided to transfer to Whitworth, which has been a more welcoming, Christian, small, non-discriminatory academic institution for my future career.

How would you describe Whitworth?

The Whitworth community is small. Nevertheless, it is a caring and loving community. I was surprised that professors make efforts to remember students' names. Classmates, student leaders and professors remembered me. This community is encouraging and understanding. When I attended events at Whitworth, student leaders explained the purpose of events kindly and listened to my motivation to participate in the events and my general life stories so carefully. Based on this experience, I realized that the Whitworth community is different. It is more like a family than an institution because people are caring for the people around them like their family members. This was the reason why I wanted to remain at Whitworth. With Whitworth's spirit and culture, I also wanted to be a family member to new students or students who feel lonely.


Maggie Ruffcorn '22

Why did you decide to study communication (and specifically strategic communication)?

I came in freshman year wanting to study political science, but after taking Joy York's Interpersonal Communication class my first semester, I realized that the communications field is where my passion was and I changed majors. I love writing, public speaking and learning how to effectively communicate with those around me. The reason I gravitated specifically toward strategic communication is because of my interest in public relations and guiding individuals and organizations to find and develop their vision.


What are some of your favorite classes so far?

It's so hard to choose my favorite classes, when every class I've taken in the communication studies department has offered me something valuable. There were three, however, that really stood out to me. The first was Publicity & Public Relations, where we learned how to handle crisis communication, develop people's brands, and work with a real client to create them a website and social media presence to represent them. The second was Intro to Video & Audio. Coming into Whitworth I already had a passion for video editing, but this class developed my skills and taught me new programs and techniques to use. The third class was Communication in Leadership, where we learned all about leadership, followership and ethics of organizations. This class made me feel much more prepared to take on leadership positions that come my way.

Tell us about a unique experience or project you've worked on for your major.

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to do a video/audio editing project for World Relief Spokane, because I had taken the Intro to Video & Audio class at Whitworth. It was a really neat and rewarding project. I was sent clips of different pastors saying The Lord's Prayer in French, Swahili, Spanish and Russian, and I edited them together so that the language changed every phrase. There were also running subtitles in English underneath so you could read each phrase as it was being said. It was a wonderful opportunity to do something I love while helping an amazing organization.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about majoring in communication?

Good communication is necessary in every profession, as well as in everyday life. If you're thinking of majoring in communication, I would encourage you to take a class or two in communication your first semester. You'll either fall in love with it and its opportunities for future careers, or if you don't, you will have gained some incredibly useful skills that will help you in whatever field you choose.

What's your dream job?

My dream job is as a public relations specialist. I love public speaking, so I would enjoy communicating with the public in order to spread the message of a person or company. I also enjoy behind-the-scenes work, so helping clients develop the vison for their organization and then putting together press kits and creating media materials. I love strategic communications because it merges the logistic side with the creative side of communications.

Who has been an important connection for you at Whitworth, and why?

When I took Interpersonal Communications my freshman year I fell in love with the study of communication, and a big part of that was how it was taught by Dr. Joy York. She really brought the class to life and inspired me to pursue communication as my major. Since then, she has been my advisor and helped guide me through classes, questions and the process of getting an internship in the field. She is such a fun and caring person who makes her students feel valued and informed.

Why did you choose to attend Whitworth?

There were a lot of things that pulled me to Whitworth. One of the major ones was that every time I stepped onto campus, I was greeted by friendly faces, and everyone I saw seemed to just really be enjoying themselves. Whether it was in classes, out in The Loop or in the residence halls – everyone just seemed genuinely happy to be there. That positivity and friendly nature really drew me to campus. Other things that drew me were that several of my family members have gone to Whitworth and loved their time here, and Whitworth gave me the best scholarships. An added bonus was that being from Spokane, I could still visit family and friends and keep the job I worked in high school – all while living on campus and experiencing college independence.

Learn more about Whitworth's Strategic Communication, B.A. program

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