Pro communicators to share career experiences at GCU

February 09, 2015 / by / 0 Comment

By Michael Ferraresi
GCU News Bureau

This month, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences will continue to invite guest speakers on campus to show students how they can use their degrees in the workforce.

Two events — a Tuesday presentation by a pair of Arizona communications scholars and a talk later in the month by a seasoned search-engine optimization writer — also will highlight how Grand Canyon University students of all backgrounds can apply humanities lessons in everyday life.

“Deception and Forgiveness in Relationships,” scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Colangelo College of Business lecture hall, is sponsored by GCU’s chapter of the Lambda Pi Eta communications honors society and is open to the University community.

The event is expected to address interpersonal communications in marriages and families, in addition to “dark side communication” such as deceit, emotional abuse and manipulation — issues that affect many people in their personal lives. It will feature interpersonal communications expert Dr. Douglas Kelley and professor-magician Dr. Loren Schwarzwalter.

Dr. Sherman Elliott, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, said the presentation is of the type he has encouraged faculty to bring to campus. Kelley and Schwarzwalter will help students see how their academic studies can be applied in the real world, Elliott said.

“All these experiences that you have in the University are not just to prepare you for more academic work,” Elliott said he often reminds faculty and students.

“They’re to prepare you for your personal and professional life,” he said. “I love how (students) are going to see these folks use these skills in a very tangible way.”

Communications instructor Joshua Danaher, who advises GCU Lambda Pi Eta students, said he knows Kelley well. The author of “Marital Communication” and “Communicating Forgiveness” officiated at Danaher’s wedding ceremony to his wife, Mindy.

For more than 20 years, Kelley has taught and lectured on the nuances of forgiveness, family communication and navigating conflict in relationships.

“His style is very conversational and discussion-oriented,” Danaher said. “He’s kind of a random, abstract thinker but very good at bringing down things to a very relatable way.”

Danaher said fellow GCU communications instructor Jessi Farmer knew Schwarzwalter at Glendale Community College. Both thought he was ideal to address the “dark side” communication issues that students are studying in some classes. Schwarzwalter uses magic to make those issues understandable and compelling for audiences.

Lambda Pi Eta students also organized a fall “Communication at Work” roundtable expert panel on campus in October, which was well attended.

“To me it’s an example of busting at the seams with things that we need to address as a University, not just in a classroom setting,” Danaher said. “There are speakers (like Kelley and Schwarzwalter) who’ve done work in this area who can guide those discussions.”

Search-engine optimization writer Dr. Nicholas White is slated to speak at 11:15 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 20, in CAS (Building 6), Room 139-140. The event is primarily open to English students, but GCU professor Dr. Thomas Skeen said he hoped others will be interested in learning about how White carved out a unique professional niche for writers to produce custom content for online audiences.

Skeen, who teaches freshman and graduate English courses, said White, a college instructor of nearly two decades, is a good example of an English major who branched out into SEO. For the past five years, he’s worked as a web marketing SEO writer for law firms.

“For him it was a big career change,” Skeen said. “Normally when we talk about English (majors), we talk about going into teaching. But there are opportunities out there for other types of work.”

He added, “The nature of work has been changing, and this is one of those areas where the degree was helpful for him to use his background in English. That has to do with persuasive tactics, and some of the strategies of prose. Those things are really important and helpful in this area.”

Reach Michael Ferraresi at (602) 639-7030 or [email protected].

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