COMS News | February 2023

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Happy February COMS Mustangs!

This newsletter is designed to help keep majors, minors, faculty, and staff up-to-date so you can learn about news, career advice, events, networking opportunities, well-wishes, and inspirational stories surrounding your peers and community.


Get involved in COMS Club! Meetings in winter 2023 take place on Tuesdays from 11:10am-12:00pm in Building 10 Room 222. Connect with Coms Club on Instagram @calpolycomsclub for the most up-to-date information. Check out the scheduled events remaining this quarter: 
  • February 7: Representing yourself on paper: how to tailor your resume. 
  • February 21: Career Symposium: Companies hiring for internships or full-time positions will be available to help enhance your professional development. 
  • March 7: Representing yourself during an interview: elevator pitches and mock job interviews. 

Lambda Pi Eta (LPH)
LPH recognizes the outstanding academic achievements of COMS majors and offers membership benefits including honors status at graduation and ceremonial graduation regalia. To see if you qualify to join, check out the membership requirements and fill out the Cal Poly LPH Interest Form by March 1. Follow LPH on Instagram @lphcalpoly to stay in the loop. LPH is also hosting an event this week:

  • February 3: LPH Midterm Study Session,12:10 – 4 PM, Building 10 (Alan A. Erhart Agriculture) Room 231. 

COMS Schedule Planning Workshop
Mark your calendars! Dr. Nelson, is hosting a Schedule Planning Workshop for advising and schedule troubleshooting designed for all COMS Majors on Monday, February 27 from 1:10-2:00PM in Building 22 Room 212!

Debate Team News
Congrats to the Cal Poly Debate Team! They finished in second place in the novice division in the 3rd tournament of the YODL series. Students Rachel Strohecker and Josh Rillo defended minor social media influencers' right to profit off their labor in a close debate!

Disability Cultural Center
The Disability Alliance has been engaged in fantastic activism and advocacy across campus. One of their major initiatives is to advocate for a Disability Cultural Program at Cal Poly "to develop pride in disability identity, foster disability culture, and build community on campus." If you'd like to show your support for this important new program, sign the petition online! 

Students & Alumni Spotlights
We're proud to share the amazing stories of our current students and alumni! This month, we're spotlighting the work and leadership of current student, Kaplan, and Alumna, Caitlin Lee!

  • Kaplan (they/them) is a 4th year Communication Studies major who has been involved in several leadership & extracurricular activities including the Disability Alliance (president/co-founder), the Invisible disability & chronic illness/pain student group, CCE WOW leadership, Group #38, the BSU, the SQE, the DRC student advisory committee member, and the Cal Poly Cat Program!
  • Caitlin Lee (she/her) is a COMS alumna who graduated in June 2021. Last year she worked for the Spanish Ministry of Education through NALCAP (the North American Language and Cultural Assistants Program) in Madrid and this year she is working in New York City as an English teacher!

Events & Opportunities

Teach In
The 7th annual Social Justice Teach In takes place on Thursday, February 9. This event features a variety of workshops centered around topics on equity and social justice designed to inform and inspire. Browse the full workshop schedule and signup to attend! COMS students and faculty are scheduled to present including presentations by:

  • M.W. Kaplan (they/them) is a COMS major presenting a workshop titled Bringing Disability Culture to Cal Poly
  • Dr. Darrian Carroll (he/him) is presenting a workshop titled Outlasting Systems  that Oppress: Voting, Institutional Engagement, and Beyond
  • Dr. Anuraj Dhillon (she/her) is presenting a workshop titled Muted Voices in Virtual Meetings: How to Address DEI in Virtual Meetings
  • Dr. Megan Lambertz-Berndt (she/her) is presenting a workshop titled The “Karen” of Women’s Soccer: an Analysis of Carli Lloyd’s Mediated Neoliberal and Postracial Discourse
  • Dr. Leslie Nelson (she/her) is presenting a workshop titled Understanding (White) Privilege and Dismantling Oppressive Systems: A Hands-On Approach

Campus Art Project
Cal Poly is spearheading an effort to beautify the campus through the transformation of utility boxes and infrastructure into canvases of public art. The Box Art Project is a fun and unique opportunity for students, faculty, staff, and community members to add their creative touches to the campus landscape. Submit an application to participate via email to: by February 15. For more information visit the Utility Art Box Project page.

Film Grants
CSU Students can apply for Post-Production Grants provided by Starz to design a film! Funds can be used for any post-production editing, scoring, sound design, color, etc. Applications are due February 15. For more information, visit the Starz Grant page.

SLO County DEI Internships
SLO county is looking for two interns who have interest in Diversity Equity and Inclusion, organization psychology, and training development. Interns would be helping with updating asynchronous training content and additional logistical duties. Much of the work would be completed virtually and offsite but there will be some reporting to the office in SLO. Experience using Animaker and Camtasia would be ideal. For more information, visit the position announcement page.

Camp PolyHacks Wrap Up 2023

Students came together for the Cal Poly Hackathon (January 21-22) to build solutions for complicated problems related to designing inclusive digital spaces, transportation innovations, small business success, and groundwater sustainability. With a turnout of about 70 students and 10 coaches/mentors, we're enormously proud of the student leaders and executive planning team, winners, and all participants who made this event a huge success. A special shout-out to everyone involved: 

Hackathon Executive Planning Team: 

  • Planning & Experience: Mackenzie Demay (Coms), Nicole Douglas (COMS), Emily Smit (RPTA), Maike Bohm (PSYCH), and Halle Charter (RPTA)
  • Media Team: Maddie Jackson (GrC) and Reva Mookly (GrC)
  • Theme Team: Becca Stroud (RPTA) and Luke Stewart (ENVE)
  • Advisor: Dr. David Askay (COMS)

Hackathon Winners: 

  • Best Logo: Team Stardust
    • Sage Meadows, Hahns Pena, Bora Joo, Leticia Mezzetti, and Arjun Chopra
  • Best UX: Team Fair Start 
    • Shehbaj Singh Dhillon, Anisha Raju, and Michael Cassetti
  • Best Pitch: Team Fair Start
    • Shehbaj Singh Dhillon, Anisha Raju, and Michael Cassetti
  • Best Prototype: Team WORK
    • Nathan Kang, Matthew Chak, Wesley Lin, Aidan Nesbitt, and Zitao Guan
  • Best Demonstration of Teamwork: Team Shop SLOcal 
    • Madison Vernon, Aaron Bettencourt, Kannan Jain, and Kate MacPherson
  • Most Sustainable: Team Permeable SLO
    • Hannah Huntley, Grant Holland, Katarina Di Paola, and Rockwood Frank
  • Most Impactful Solution for "Inclusive Digital Spaces" Theme: Team Stardust
    • Sage Meadows, Hahns Pena, Bora Joo, Leticia Mezzetti, and Arjun Chopra
  • Most Impactful Solution for "Small Business Success" Theme: Team Shop SLOcal
    • Madison Vernon, Aaron Bettencourt, Kannan Jain, and Kate MacPherson
  • Most Impactful Solution for "Transportation Innovations" Theme: Team cYc
    • Krishnanshu Gupta, Ishaan Sathaye, Nakul Nayak, and Aswin Rajesh
  • Most Impactful Solution for "Ground Water Sustainability" Theme: Team Permeable SLO 
    • Hannah Huntley, Grant Holland, Katarina Di Paola, and Rockwood Frank
  • Overall Winning Team: Team Stardust 
    • Sage Meadows, Hahns Pena, Bora Joo, Leticia Mezzetti, and Arjun Chopra

Faculty News 

Dr. Aubrie Adams
Dr. Adams facilitated a workshop titled Designing Inclusive Digital Spaces (January 13). At this workshop, students learned about challenges and opportunities in designing online and gaming spaces to better welcome and support underrepresented voices, build safe connections within and across identities, and welcome people to be their authentic, best selves. This workshop was organized in collaboration with the Cal Poly Hackathon Program. 

Dr. Bethany Conway
Dr. Conway welcomed Baby Jerome "Jerry" Jefferson Boggs on January 2! He was 7 pounds, 8 ounces, and 22 inches long. Stay tuned for the COMS Instagram account for a precious picture celebrating the new arrival! Dr. Conway is also on parental leave in the winter quarter, but we're looking forward to seeing her back in the spring. Big congrats to Dr. Conway and her family!!

Dr. Leslie Nelson
Dr. Nelson and her co-authors, Dr. Maria Butauski (Columbia College) and Summer Atwood (Cal Poly alumna), recently published a study in the Journal of Applied Communication Research. This study explored the conversation foster parents had with their foster children when they transitioned out of their home. Findings highlight useful ways to facilitate sense-making, resilience, and coping for foster youth and families amidst transitions. Congrats Dr. Nelson and team!

Dr. Maria Subert
Dr. Subert is scheduled to present at the upcoming
 93rd annual convention of the Western States Communication Association, February 17-20, in Phoenix. Her presentation is titled: Decolonizing Rhetoric and Pre-Colonial Memories: Reimaginations of Roma Mythical Time and the Wellness of Family. 

Sharing is Caring

Do you have an announcement to share with COMS majors, minors, faculty, and staff? Email Dr. Brie to find out how to share it! Follow COMS on Social Media: Instagram | Facebook | LinkedIn 

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