Department of English

4.16.13 – MAPC 20th Anniversary Celebration a Success!

Dr. Howard, Dr. Goswami, & Dr. Young

Dr. Howard, Dr. Goswami, & Dr. Young

On April 12, 2013, the MA in Professional Communication program celebrated its 20th Anniversary with an all day event where alumni, students, and faculty came together to share stories and knowledge of their lives and careers. Everyone who attended remarked at how wonderful it was to catch up and hear the experiences of their fellow MAPCers.

The day began with a bang and a series of speeches delivered to a standing room only crowd. Dr. Tharon Howard, director of the MAPC program, gave an overview of the program where he revealed that the first graduates of the program were in December of 1993. Since then there have been 212 graduates that have come from 29  out of the 50 states. Dr. Howard was followed by Dr. Dixie Goswami and Dr. Arthur Young, two of the original founders of the MAPC program. Both of the keynote speakers received standing ovations as they told their stories from the founding days, over 20 years ago, described what the field should expect in the years to come, and charged future alumni to make a difference in all aspects of their careers–socially, politically, economically, and globally .

Home States of MAPC Grads

After the morning speeches came to an end, six alumni spanning multiple professions engaged in small workshops over the next two hours through “progressions” led by Dr. Jan Holmevik and Dr. Howard. Amy Jessee, senior writer/editor for UNC Asheville brought in multiple materials and talked about how her career has involved both digital and print publications. Adam Wickliffe spoke on his experiences with both the Greenville news and his current position as a sales project manager for DealChicken.  Bobby Rettew spoke on building strong communities using social networking practices.  Glenn Southergill talked about enhancing productivity through microblogging. Major Shawn Haney, who has served as a public affairs office in the Marine Corps in Afganistan talked about crisis communication and campaign planning.  And Andy Heck spoke about moving beyond graphic design in PR and marketing based on his experiences as an art director at Erwin-Penland.  After these workshops finished, the alumni and students were graciously provided lunch by the Pearce Center for Professional Communication.

Alumni Amy Jessee & Glen Southergill talk during a workshop.

Alumni Amy Jessee & Glen Southergill talk during a workshop.



During the afternoon, 8 alumni sat in on a panel facilitated by Dr. Martin Jacobi and talked about their career experiences and how MAPC has helped them throughout their lives. Some members of the panel included Ashley Cowden, who has taught at a variety of institutions and is director of the client-based writing program at Clemson; Dustin Wilson, who works in the communications office for BBS; Jonathan Lashley, who works in the Michelin Career Center and who is also pursuing a Ph.D. in RCID.  The panel discussion and Q&A lasted for over 2 hours as the alumni told stories and gave suggestions to the current students. Many remarked on how they have marketed themselves to employers. Others stressed the skills MAPC teaches that puts them ahead of the rest of the pack. After the discussions, current students remarked on how much they enjoyed interacting with the alumni.

Andy Heck talks about his experiences on the panel.

Stephanie Beard, a first year student, stated, “as the alumni spoke, it was refreshing to hear how they are able to put the theories they learned into practice on a daily basis. I also enjoyed the way they emphasized that we are all storytellers, and because of this program, we will be equipped to tell those stories effectively.” Brian Gaines, another current student, seconded the value of the celebration, “Interacting with alumni who are leaders in the field is a valuable experience in our professional development.”

At the end of the day, all of the attendees recognized Laura Smith, a first-year MAPC student who organized the event and thanked her for her contributions.  Alumni and students parted ways but with hopes that the next anniversary celebration will bring them back together before the next 20 years.

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