September 12, 2018

Collaborating by Communicating

One of the top three competencies employers value is communication skills,1 and Gonzaga’s Communication Studies Department is on a mission to ensure that Zags meet that criterion by the time they graduate.

Last summer, the Communication Studies Department’s Jonathan Rossing, Ph.D., met weekly with the First Year Experience GUide Core ambassadors to help prepare them for their Welcome Night speeches during Freshman Orientation. Serving as a resource for incoming Zags who might have questions about the transition to college, the five-student group plays a key role in planning and implementing Orientation Weekend. 

Rossing worked with the group throughout the summer on messaging, speech crafting, and communication strategies, emphasizing that while sharing personal stories in front of a crowd can be difficult, it can also be very powerful.

Michael Pham (’17) affirmed that sentiment when reflecting on his speech. “With the help of Dr. Rossing, I was constantly challenged to make sure that my speech wasn’t surface level or generic … I had to evaluate my own comfort level when putting together the story I would share. I faced serious juxtaposition between being pushed to be vulnerable and my own comfort with being open about my private life.”

The hard work paid off; last Spring, the First Year Experience Programs office got word that the GUide Core Communication Training Curriculum received a Region I Innovative Program Award from the National Orientation Directors Association for Orientation, Transition, and Retention in Higher Education and is up for a national award to be announced this October.

Delighted with the successful pilot, the two departments renewed the partnership for this year’s GUide Core group. Said First Year Experience Assistant Director Kelly Alvarado, “We [were] really excited to have another year of preparing our students for Welcome Night. The speakers [focused] on key values and mindsets important for the GU experience, such as being open to new experiences and perspectives, accepting vulnerability and failure, asking for help, and the journey towards change.”

Rossing adds, “This collaboration ties in nicely to the Communication Studies Department’s commitment to educate beyond the curriculum. Our goal is to extend our reach across campus, allowing the faculty presence to enter other areas of the University.”


1. According to a 2017 survey of employers conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers