BU represented in Boston at annual communication conference

Nicole Kelly, Staff Writer

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     This past weekend, several members of the Bloomsburg Community traveled over 350 miles to expand their education with scholars from around the country. Students and faculty from Bloomsburg’s communications department represented the university at the 108 annual Eastern Communication Association (ECA) conference in Boston, Massachusetts.

     The conference began on Tuesday, March 28, and ran until Sunday, April 2. Students and faculty from communication based majors in the Eastern region of the United States had the opportunity to register and attend the annual conference. It is estimated that about ten Bloomsburg University faculty and five university students attended the session this year.

     The conference consisted of a number of activities that communication scholars were invited to participate in at the Omni Parker house hotel, where various meeting rooms were reserved for the special event.

     Events took place simultaneously throughout the days, giving attendees the freedom to choose to attend presentations they found interesting. There were poster sessions, panels and research paper presentations, as well as informative sessions for all to attend.
A group of five Bloomsburg University students presented research on a panel. The five students, Kaitlyn Rhine, Kasey Sullivan, Nicole Kelly, Amy Loftus and Jenna Mapes were all from the Communication Studies department. They began their research project in a relational communications class taught by Associate Professor Mary King. “It began as a class research project, but became something we developed and became invested into outside of the classroom,” said attendee and presenter Mapes.

     The research project focused on by the five students was a study of individual experiences of unplanned pregnancies. The Bloomsburg students conducted research both in and out of the classroom in order to get more diverse and accurate findings. When they felt their research was complete and worthy of submission, they submitted their project to ECA, where they were accepted to present at the conference. According to ECA 2017 statistics, less than half of the undergraduates who applied to present at ECA were accepted. “Learning that less than 50 percent of the undergraduates who applied to the conference were accepted definitely made for an experience as well as a proud moment,” said Sullivan, a student presenter at ECA.

     The five students, led by King, presented at 11 am on Saturday morning. The panel’s audience consisted of about 10 attendees, including the former ECA president, who had many positive things to say about the research. This is not the first time faculty and students from Bloomsburg attended an ECA conference, as members of the school have been attending for many years. The ECA conference has been in a variety of locations, including Los Angles, Rhode Island, Pittsburgh, Virginia and many more. Rhine, one of the five student presenters, is glad for the experience. “Presenting at a national conference was a little nerve racking, but definitely an experience I’ll never forget,” said Rhine.
While all of the presenters are graduating this semester and will not attend an ECA conference as undergraduates again, they stress the importance of undergraduates attending conferences in their major.

     “It is such a unique experience tailored so perfectly to your major and interests. I met so many connections in the field that could help me get a job. I would recommend students to attend conferences specific to their major,” said Mapes.