Felicia Wright (2007) - Government Relations Specialist
“We should find that none of the things which are done with intelligence take place without the help of speech.” – Isocrates
Upon graduating from Westmont College, I considered entering into advertising, psychology, business analytics or law. With many options, I eventually chose to begin a career in the broadcasting industry so I could share information to help others make informed decisions. While working for a broadcasting association, I had a rare opportunity to become involved with a piece of state legislation regarding the freedom of speech and free press. Educating strong-willed intellectuals with stark opposing views about a complex policy issue was certainly a challenge. However, I was able to work through that challenge because my degree provided me with the tools to gather adequate and credible information, listen and communicate effectively with a broad range of individuals, and present complex information in a concise manner. This unexpected experience ultimately influenced me to transition into the political field.
Now I am a Government Affairs Specialist for a non-profit trade association, and I am a registered lobbyist in the State of Texas. In this capacity, I am required to open lines of communication between local and state government to promote a positive business environment for clients. I developed this career by working for three state elected officials and serving as a policy analyst on health care, veteran affairs, natural resources, transportation, and education.
Westmont’s Communication Studies program gave me the discipline to communicate in an effective and influential manner by teaching me how to shape opinions, think critically, solve complex issues, frame information, work collaboratively, build trustworthy relationships, and analyze opinions. Through many self-reflective college assignments, I was able to consider my own personal strengths and weaknesses in exercising influence and developing interpersonal competence, and determine what I could do to be more effective in those areas. To future Westmont graduates: the skills that you will acquire as a Communication Studies major will provide you with the necessary tools to be successful in whichever career field you decide on… or stumble upon.
Lastly, the most rewarding aspect of being a Communication major is working with the professors. Being led during a very critical chapter in my life by professors who were so gracious to impart their knowledge to me, who prayed over me and my future, and who have rooted for me well beyond my college years was a gift that is rare and unique to Westmont.
A native of Southern California, Felicia now resides in Austin, Texas. In addition to majoring in Communication Studies, Felicia participated in an Art History study abroad program through Westmont and volunteered with Potter’s Clay. To learn more about her experience or seek career advice, you may contact her through LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/feliciaannwright/
Amy Owens Roach (2003) - Media Vice President
I am the VP of iHeart Media Connections West (formerly known as Clear Channel Media & Entertainment), which is iHeart Media's national sales team; we work with the country’s largest advertisers on cross-platform, custom marketing campaigns, reaching more than 243 million people each month. Our portfolio is made up of Radio, iHeartRadio, Digital, Social, Outdoor and Events. My job is exciting and rewarding, as it allows for me to be creative, meet with clients at the building stage of a campaign, and then present opportunities that have been customized for them. Nothing worse than trying to sell a client a ready-to-go package.
During my days at Westmont, I interned at a B2B Advertising Agency. I loved my experience, but it was clear that I didn’t want to be on the agency side and that I wanted to work in the consumer market. I met a senior radio seller through family friends and began to talk with him about radio. I was hooked. What could be better than working with people, selling something that I believed in and knew intimately, and getting to work on commission with no cap? Done. When I reached out to him during my senior year, however, his suggestion was to get into another medium for a year and call him back. So I went to work for Santa Barbara Magazine, where I was the Marketing Manager. I learned a lot – but still wanted to get into radio.
One year later, I found myself as an account executive at Clear Channel Santa Barbara. I worked there for almost 2 years and grew in my skills, my client list, and my understanding of the product. I was ready to stretch myself, so I moved to Los Angeles, where II soon became an AE at one of the largest radio stations in the country, KOST 103.5FM in Los Angeles.
That was 2006 and I have worked my way up in LA radio within the Clear Channel / iHeartMedia family. From “pounding the pavement” and “banging out the cold calls”, my radio career has been a sometimes-tough but consistently rewarding path After working for KOST for 3 years, I joined the “LA Cluster Team” and sold for all 8 radio stations with a large focus on agency business. After 5 years on that team, I became the Director of Brand Integration at the LA Cluster, which was focused on creating larger programs with advertisers directly. Two years ago, I became Vice President of iHeartMedia Connections West. I absolutely love my fulfilling work, the people I work with and my clients.
Majoring in Communication Studies was extremely important for my growth and development. I consistently use the skills taught in Interpersonal Communication, Public Speaking, Mass Com (now Media & Society) and Persuasion. This major is a life major. From being able to sell yourself…to clearly stating why people should work with you. Why do I deserve this job? Why should they spend money with me? Why are my ideas better than my competitors? We need to be able to not only command a room, but represent ourselves in a clear and concise manner – creating an emotion in the other person and persuading them to act.
Majoring in Communication Studies was extremely important for my growth and development in my career. COM not only gave me real-life experience with Interpersonal Communication, but a great understanding of Media through Mass Com (Media & Society) and Persuasion. In this world, we are constantly forced to ‘sell ourselves’ to everyone around us. Why do I deserve this job? Why should they spend money with me? Why are my ideas better than my competitors? We need to be able to not only command a room, but represent ourselves in a clear and concise manner – creating an emotion in the other person and persuading them to act.
I cannot speak highly enough about the COM department and the professors that lead this program. They are highly involved from Day #1 and truly take an active role in helping guide students into their careers. I recommend students do Mayterms and internships during their stay at Westmont. It’s a great way for students to experience the world and trycareers without the risk of being "stuck."
Paul Angone (2005) - Author, Speaker, Humorist, Entrepreneur
I always received my highest grades and compliments in school when I was doing some sort of presentation, so I tried to figure out a way that people would pay me to come speak. Well, how about I write a book!
I wrote for years, while working various recruiting and marketing jobs. I went back to school for an MA in Organizational Leadership and created my website AllGroanUp.com as my masters capstone project to try and connect with my audience while building a platform because publishers aren't too keen on taking risks on unknown authors. You have to prove that there is a demand for you and your idea before a publisher will want to partner with you.
Then one article I wrote called 21 Secrets for your 20s went viral through social media and has been read over a million times in 180 countries, thus becoming a tipping point to finally see a book published. And yes now they pay me to come speak. It's fairly awesome!
When looking at the major as a whole, I'm amazed and indebted to all the challenges and opportunities I had to write and present with amazing, skilled professors who forced me to work harder and become better. Being able to articulate thoughts and ideas in an intriguing, understandable way both through writing and speaking is a crucial skill-set that will help you thrive in any profession. I often tell people I'm not just an author or a speaker, I'm a communicator. And I definitely thank my major and time at Westmont for refining that ability in me.
Kristin Rushforth Ritzau (2004) - Author, Speaker, Spiritual Director
After pursuing many internships while at Westmont that ranged from the film industry to event planning to Amnesty International in the Czech Republic, I had an experience that led me to know I was supposed to work with college students. This has taken on many forms from being a Resident Assistant at Westmont, to attending Fuller Theological Seminary where I obtained my MA in Christian Leadership, to then working in a church with young adults. From there, I went on to work in Azusa Pacific University's Ministry and Service Office doing program coordination, research, student development, and community outreach for five years. My calling shifted a bit after publishing my first book which stemmed from my journey at Fuller, work I did with women after graduate school, and seeking certification to become a Spiritual Director. I was doing more workshops and teaching and felt called to the classroom. Therefore, I am currently back in school to work on my Doctorate so I can continue in my vocation.
The com major taught me to see life differently. Reading Noam Chomsky, debating how culture shapes us, diving into Aristotle, and doing projects on how organizations communicate showed me to peel back the layers to see (and wonder) "what is really going on around me?" I became a question asker in this major.
One project I continue to reflect on is when we interviewed the Santa Barbara Police Station about their organizational culture for a group project. In asking the officers and detectives our questions, they realized in the interview that they had their own distinct language and layout of their office which affected personnel issues and hierarchy. They had never considered that before. Understanding the way place, words, culture, and rhetoric all shape us into who we are is what I still love about my education at Westmont.
Joseph Campbell wrote, "We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us." This was and still is the journey of my life. If you want to write a book, live into your story. You can't write if you don't fully experience the world around you. The other thing I would say is continue to work hard; be willing to start wherever you are needed and step in where you are needed too. This is true not just out of college, but at certain times when your life takes a turn - and there will be many turns. Also, remember to always have a vocational mentor (or two) as well as a spiritual one. Lastly, I would say two of my biggest gifts have been imagination and failure - learn to embrace both of them.
Jim Roach (2000) - Music Producer
The original score for Looking Up Dresses was composed by another Westmont alum, Jim Roach. We always knew Jim had talent -- from his Spring Sing band to his downtown performances. Jim most recently finished Listen Up by gold-selling artist Hoku. He's also produced recording artists Brett Young and Grove Hill, and the web cartoon Hey Ladiez! (produced with fellow alum Mark Fiore) in addition to his guitar work with This World Fair, and The Rosewood Fall. You can check out his discography, blog and bio on http://jimroachmusic.com
"I see my time spent at Westmont in the Communication Studies Department as indispensable to daily life in the music industry. My job as a producer means that I am the glue between the artist, the management, the label, the hired musicians, and of course the music. The ability to communicate ideas clearly, and with civility, is vital to maintaining a project's sanity! Most of the people that I deal with on a daily basis are generally less educated or have that famous artistic temperament (and all that comes with it). They can be difficult to deal with at times! I always say that making a record is really 50% baby-sitting, 40% arbitration or negotiation, and 10% music...if you're lucky. Without the set of skills and the life application tools that I got from my time at Westmont with Dr. Dunn and Dr. Spencer I'd be sinking in a sea of Top 40 drama."
Liane Koh (2008) - Marketing & PR Specialist
In my work I manage 5-8 accounts at at a time doing public relations, traditional and digital marketing, brand strategy, social media and content creation, reputation management, event planning and cause-related marketing activations, hiring, training and managing client brand ambassadors, business development, and mentorship of our interns. In the start-up environment, each member of the team must have a sense of ownership of the enterprise.
My career route was not linear! I started as a hotel front desk agent and concierge in Santa Barbara, then earned a diploma in culinary arts from Le Cordon Blue, then worked as a management intern for a major resort in Singapore and the Maldives, then went back to school to earn a Master's Degree in Communication Management from the Annenberg School for Communication (Dr. Dunn inspired me to go there!), and then found my path toward marketing and PR.
Some of the things that have stayed with me from my com courses are the power of words to transform relationships. I am grateful to classes in Rhetoric and Conflict & Reconciliation that make me a better friend, daughter, sister, etc. Westmont's com major equipped me to better speak the truth in love, especially in an industry where "framing" something for the media or client can often mean parsing the truth.
My advice? Keep reading industry and trade related books, blogs, websites, and newsletters. Only bring problems to the table with at least two suggested solutions. Don't be afraid to ask if you want to more involved.
Justin Zoradi (2004) - Social Entrepreneur
Justin is the Founder and CEO of These Numbers Have Faces, a global education organization investing in Africa's brightest students to lead and empower their countries. Starting from the couch of his apartment with one student in 2008, Justin's organization now provides education loans, along with leadership and entrepreneurship training, to hundreds of students every year across four African countries.
Justin also writes at justinzoradi.com on issues of entrepreneurship, leadership, and "doing work that matters." His first book, Doing Work That Matters: A Small Guide To Making Big Change In The World was released in 2013. See more information on the book and Justin's thoughts at JustinZoradi.Com.
Hillary McCall (2011) - Director of Network Relations
My senior year at Westmont, professor Stern referred me for an internship at the Santa Barbara Foundation. I worked alongside the vice president of communications and marketing, applying my classroom knowledge to a real life setting. When I graduated, the SB Foundation hired me in communications and marketing, and we developed the Foundation’s first online platforms, implemented new branding strategies, and told the stories of philanthropy taking action across Santa Barbara.
Seeing the social impact of my work was of high, personal value in my professional development. Almost two years after joining the Foundation staff, I was offered a position as the communications and development manager for a growing philanthropic initiative, the Incredible Children’s Art Network (iCAN). The organization is dedicated to effecting social change through providing children with access to the highest quality arts programming that they would otherwise be without. I was honored to join their team in April of 2012. With a dynamic group of passionate teaching artists and a creative leadership team, iCAN serves 3,200 children in six of Santa Barbara’s most underserved, Title I schools.
In my current role as director of network relations, I am responsible for building sustainable partnerships and collaborations, managing communications platforms, public relations, and development opportunities. My communications degree prepared me with practical skills that I use every day in a fast paced environment. I learned how to challenge ideas and form logical opinions, use research methods to develop effective programs, build a healthy organizational culture via role clarity, effective use of physical space, and creating effective systems to communicate. Of course, I also learned to consistently speak the truth with eloquence.
If I had to give one piece of advice to students following a similar path, it would simply be, learn how to ask good questions. Whether you are building relationships, strengthening your skills, or gaining creative insight, good questions will inform your perspective as a life long learner.
My career has thus far allowed me to engage with some of the most innovative thinkers and organizations in our community and around the nation. My professors, peers and the Westmont community played an integral role in forming the foundation for my career, and I could not be more grateful.
Jared Ingram (2000) - Filmmaker
Jared is a filmmaker and screenwriter, most recently winning the Gold Prize for the best comedy feature in the 2010 PAGE International Screenwriting Awards. His co-author, Brian Sharp, is also a communication studies alum. The above photo is a shot of Jared directing Sam Huntington and Jlynn Johnson on the set of his short film Looking Up Dresses.
Jared Ingram is a filmmaker whose work has an emphasis on personal stories told with heart, humor, and depth.
Jared recently wrote and directed a 35mm short film called "Looking Up Dresses." It was awarded "Best Short Comedy" as well as the "Audience Award" at the First Glance Film Festival Hollywood. Jared was one of five directors to be nominated for "Best Director" at the Malibu Film Festival. The short was awarded Best Short Comedy and the Audience Award at the First Glance Film Festival in Hollywood, was a finalist at the USA Film Festival in Dallas, and was an official selection at both the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and the Vail Film Festival.
The short was made with the help of co-producer Todd Spence (Comm. major '00) and musician Jim Roach (Comm. major '00) who wrote the original score.
Jared shot his first short film ("Broken Hallelujah") during his senior year at Westmont.
"I came into Westmont wanting to be a doctor. But it wasn't until I switched to Communication Studies that I began to find a passion for learning. The beauty of Communication Studies is that it's all-encompassing. Becoming a better speaker, a better writer, a better critical thinker... These things impact your life everyday no matter what job you have. Unless you're the President. Or a pirate..."
Special thanks to photographer Andrew Hugh Purcell for these images.
Anita Perez Ferguson (1971) - Speaker, Author, Consultant
Anita Perez Ferguson, Westmont alumna of 1971 and winner of the Monroe Award, is a speaker, author, international consultant, and trainer in the areas of program planning, evaluation and leadership development.
From 1991 to 1995 she served as the president of the National Women's Political Caucus in Washington DC. She was appointed by President Clinton to serve as the Chair of the Inter American Foundation and the White House Liaison to the U.S. Department of Transportation. She has served as a Director on various national and community boards and as a Visiting Fellow for the Woodrow Wilson Foundation in Princeton, New Jersey.
In 1999, Anita translated her experience and enthusiasm into her first book, A Passion for Politics, followed in 2004 by Women Seen & Heard: Lessons Learned from Successful Speakers.
In addition to her Westmont B.A. in Communication, Anita also holds an M.A. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Santa Clara, and an M.A. in Management from the University of Redlands. Soon she will hold her Ph.D. in Organizational Development from Fielding Graduate University. Her dissertation, From the Basement to the Boardroom, charts the social networks of the 172 Hispanic Americans who sit on the boards of directors for the Fortune 500.
Joy Eggerichs (2004) - Speaker & Ministry Director
Joy is living in Portland, Oregon where she works for the marriage ministry Love and Respect. She conducts research to help understand and serve young people planning to marry. "When I began working for Love and Respect, I directed live conferences and my Communication Studies degree was far more beneficial than I could have imagined. With each church came new staff and new volunteers. Figuring out how to communicate and best energize each group was like figuring out a puzzle." Joy has used her knowledge and research skills to better understand young people (aged 18 to 35) and what they most need to be aware of both before and well into their marriages. After directing marriage conferences for 2 years, she heard many people remark that they wished they knew THEN what they know NOW (especially after a Love and Respect seminar). "I don't want us to be a generation that has to say that. Let's do the best we can to figure it out NOW."
Four major themes emerge in her work: 1) young people today have little or no time for introspection, and an unhealthy manifestation of this is narcissism; 2) because young people move, change jobs, and generally live transient lives, there is not much accountability to or authority from older, wiser counsel; 3) many young people have developed either overly indulgent or overly suppressive responses to their sexuality, and this will have a big impact on a marriage; and 4) from social networking to video games to a lack of media literacy, young people today live in a state of constant distraction, often mistaking an overload of information with learning, knowledge, and wisdom.
Amanda Wigno Harter (2008) - Events & Marketing Coordinator
After completing her degree in Communication Studies with a minor in Political Science, Amanda returned home to her small, close-knit community of Red Bluff, California, to be close to family and the people she loves.
Amanda currently works for the UC Davis College Opportunity Programs, also known as College OPTIONS, as the Events and Marketing Coordinator for their five-county service area. In this position Amanda plans educational events for all grade levels and for educational professionals. Amanda is also currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership with an emphasis in Nonprofit Management from Simpson University.
Beyond the Tehama County Board of Education, Amanda also serves on a number of other boards and committees within the community. Currently, she serves on the State Theatre for the Arts Board of Directors as the Social Media Chair; on the Expect More Tehama Leadership Team; serves as the Scholarship Coordinator for the Redding Emblem Club; and served as a commissioner for the Red Bluff Parks and Recreation Commission.
Amanda and her husband Austin are actively involved in adult recreational soccer leagues in the area as well as Shasta Roller Derby, which Amanda participates in as team captain, and the League Board President.