This story is featured in the Fall 2017 edition of the HPU Magazine. Discover below how HPU’s Nido R. Qubein School of Communication provides experiential learning opportunities.
Hayden Bardorf sat among fellow interns at the NBA headquarters in New York City. Adam Silver, NBA commissioner, address ed the group, speaking of the latest developments and initiatives the league is planning to implement.
Silver finished his speech and fielded some questions. Crunched for time, Bardorf didn’t have a chance to ask his.
Later that day, while leaving the office, Bardorf took the elevator. On its way down, the door slid open and Commissioner Silver stepped in.
Bardorf was prepared for the situation. High Point University had taught him the skills necessary to market himself — even when time is limited.
“I literally gave him my elevator pitch,” says Bardorf. “And he answered the questions I had prepared for themeeting. It was surreal to have a one-on-one conversation with the man who runs one of the largest sports organizations in the world. Luckily, I was ready for it.”
Bardorf, a senior strategic communication major at HPU, spent the summer interning in the International Basketball Operations Department. He focused on NBA initiatives that grow the game internationally, and he worked across departments to develop a marketing strategy for the NBA’s new 2K esports league, which will debut in 2018.
His years in the Nido R. Qubein School of Communication prepared him for his time with the NBA.
“Multiple communication professors helped me prepare for the internship. The content I learned through their respective courses and mentorship was crucial,” says Bardorf. “Professor Phil Watson and Dr. Brandon Lenoir have both guided me in my academic growth and taken the time to ask about my plans and professional goals. Their open-door policies have given me the opportunity to share constructive dialogue with communication professionals and to take advantage of the knowledge that they have.”
Preparation is the primary goal of the School of Communication so that students not only meet industry standards upon graduation, but exceed them.
Having thrived in a professional setting during his internship, Bardorf now credits the curriculum, faculty and experiential learning opportunities.
“It’s hard to pinpoint what helped me the most, but Professor Lenoir’s campaigns in strategic communication class comes to mind. It was definitely the most beneficial to me while I worked at the NBA offices,” says Bardorf. “During this class, I was able to take everything I had learned throughout my three years and apply it to one large strategic communication campaign. I was able to see marketing strategy and communication practices in real-world situations. That experience became invaluable as I moved into a professional environment.”
Invaluable experience — the School of Communication excels there. Experiential learning opportunities are available for every student, no matter their sequence. Whether electronic media production, journalism, strategic communication or any of the other eight disciplines offered in the school, students are invited to immerse themselves in the field they plan to pursue.
The Real Deal
Students who choose the strategic communication pathway spend their time gaining practical experience through connecting with the local community.
Phil Watson is a strategic communication professor who believes in the experiential approach employed by the school.
“We do a lot with organizations that need help, giving our students experience with outside clients,” he says. “One of the great things about High Point University is that you can come here and get a liberal arts education, but beyond that, you also graduate equipped and ready to enter the workforce. And that’s a real plus.”
Students majoring in strategic communication spend their days crafting real campaigns for real clients — nonprofit companies being the primary focus.
For example, next door to Watson’s office is Dr. Ginny McDermott, dean of the school. In the past year, McDermott’s classes have worked with the Congdon School of Health Sciences and HPU’s Wellness Center to create a “Go For 10” campaign that promotes exercising at least 10 minutes a day.
From photographing subjects, to creating logos and advertisements and managing language, students build campaigns from the ground up — oftentimes for local nonprofit organizations that would otherwise struggleto promote their mission.
This hands-on approach to learning allows students to find their passion early in their college career. And for the students who aren’t sure of their exact path in the School of Communication, there are classes to help with that, too.
Watson teaches an introductory course called The Foundations of Strategic Communication. During his lectures, he aims to provide students with a general knowledge of the field.
“That class gets them going. Then they can break apart from there and take courses in, let’s say, just marketing or advertising,” Watson says. “That’s the fantastic thing. If you do have a lot of interests, the School of Communication has a lot of tracks and a lot of options for students when they come in.”
One of those tracks, and another example of experiential learning, can be found just downstairs from Watson’s office in the Game and Interactive Media Design lab.
An Impactful Education
Audio description is an auditory narration of visual representations in mediums such as television programs, films and live performances. It’s intended to give blind or visually impaired people a more complete picture of what’s being shown, enabling them to fully enjoy the experience.
Kira Foglesong was always interested in a career that combined both technical skills and creativity. She was drawn to HPU when she researched and found out about the game and interactive media design major — the outlet she’d been looking for.
While honing her skills as a creative director and producer at HPU, Foglesong uncovered a passion for audio description and, during her senior year, attended an audio description retreat.
There, she met an instructor with a visual impairment who expressed wishes for a video game that met her needs.
“Oftentimes, when people think of visual impairment, they don’t associate it with young people,” says Foglesong. “Many forms of entertainment have been audio described, like movies and plays. But, no one has ever applied the concept to video games.”
No one, that is, until Foglesong.
As part of her senior year capstone project, Foglesong partnered with fellow classmate Taylor Anderson-Barkley to bring such a game to life. They named it “Levy.”
With all of the resources they needed found in the School of Communication — the technology and a team of professors who guided them — Foglesong and Anderson-Barkley completed their game before graduation and submitted it to several competitions.
With word of their game out, the team received an invitation to an audio description conference in York, England. In October, they presented their game to educators, researchers and industry innovators.
“We are so excited to attend because video games aren’t often seen as making strides in education,” says Foglesong. “But having a game like this, that’s accessible to visually impaired people, there has not been a game that has used audio description as a means of doing that. It’s untouched.”
That’s what HPU’s School of Communication offers — endless opportunity. Chances not only to prepare for the real world, but to change the world.
Whether it’s reporting, advertising, broadcast or digital media, HPU students have the tools they need to positively impact their world during and after their college years.
View this story and more in the Fall 2017 edition of the HPU Magazine: