The field of communication’s wide breadth poses both vast opportunity and decent struggle for those studying it here at Oakland University and beyond. To supplement the various Communications-related programs taught at OU and equip students with the resources to succeed in their professional futures, the OU chapter of the Association for Women in Communications (AWC) is reaching out a helping hand.
As explained within their mission statement, the AWC is a national professional organization aimed at advancing the careers and skillsets of women in communications-related fields. Founded in 1909, the organization has expanded through dozens of professional and student chapters over time, including one at OU.
AWC OU was first brought to campus in 2005. Sixteen years later, the chapter is still working hard to provide valuable programming and support to all students who are interested.
Dr. Rebecca Mercado-Jones, associate professor of communication at OU, is the current Faculty Advisor to the organization.
“The Association for Women in Communications is a professional organization that is geared [at helping] promote personal and professional growth for anybody who exists in the broad field of communications,” Mercado-Jones said. “I think one of the benefits of being in a professional organization is that we get to really listen to students and tailor [our programming] to what you think is missing in your classrooms.”
Senior Maia Maola is the current student leader of the organization. As an Integrative Studies major, Maola feels connected to many of the concerns common to Communication majors whilst acquiring her own degree, as both are degree programs upon which doubt is often cast and criticism applied for a lack of specificity or professional salience. Her venture into this organization came from her desire to learn more about the field and to meet others who’d figured it all out, and she encourages anyone whose discipline overlaps with communications to join — not just Communication majors, and not just women.
“I know that the title of the group is Association for Women in Communications, but we are open to any student who is a Comm major or who may not be,” Maola said. “I joined the group mainly to have networking opportunities in the professional field, particularly with communications, because it is such a broad subject matter — you can go anywhere with it. I really wanted to learn more about the field and the people who are being successful in it.”
Communications professional Jennifer Peters-Hamilton is one of these people. The OU alum and former Oakland Post employee now works at the Detroit chapter of the AWC as VP of Membership and Member Ambassador, and she credits her membership in AWC OU during its first year with setting her on the right path.
“I was able to connect with like-minded communications students and attend many events with guest speakers from advertising and journalism professions. Even though the logo has changed, I still proudly wear the pin I was given when I first joined,” Peters-Hamilton said. “If you are a communications student and looking for ways to get involved before graduation, the AWC OU Chapter is a great way to start.”
Opportunities for student involvement have manifested in various events for the organization in the past, including elevator-pitch practice sessions, vision board creation sessions and career panels — often consisting of previous students of Mercado-Jones’ who are now flourishing within their professional lives.
The organization currently meets biweekly, gathering over Zoom every other Wednesday at 7:30 pm. The board hopes to welcome many new faces at their next meeting on Oct. 13th, which will feature guests including Peters-Hamilton and Laura Oliveto, President and Programs Co-Chair at AWC Detroit.
Those interested in attending the event can email Mercado-Jones at [email protected] for an invitation.
“Come as you are and come with your guard down, because we’re here for you and listening to you,” Mercado-Jones said.