By Alison Giblin , Sarah Hart , Lauren Knisbeck , Morgan Andrews, Jordon Lawrenz, Greg Bintz, Zach Glander, & Daniel Bestul
The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay’s 6th annual COMM Week took place on April 3rd, with opportunities to showcase students’ work and skills.
This year was the 6th COMM Week since the start of the event in 2017. COMM Week kicked off on Monday with daily events for students to socialize and network and wrapped up on Thursday with the banquet. The CEO of UNICEF USA, Michael J. Nyenhuis, appeared as the banquet’s keynote speaker. The week’s co-directors and team members worked throughout the year to ensure the success of events.
Co-Director Sarah Hart explained that the COMM Week team helped alleviate some workload when it came to coordinating events. “We had teams that were specifically assigned to each event throughout the week. They were able to take care of things such as event set-up, so it was a lot less for us co-directors to have to worry about,” Hart said.
COMM Get Coffee was the first event of the week (on Monday, April 3rd from 8 AM to 12 PM). This was an opportunity for students to come together and meet other communication majors while enjoying free coffee and pastries. Later that night COMM Together took place in the MAC Winter Garden. Here, students from other clubs and organizations across campus came to discuss how communication has helped them.
Tuesday’s event was COMMplete Your Portfolio, which gave students the opportunity to get valuable advice on crafting resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles. WelCOMM to the Jungle took place on Wednesday and was a social event for communication majors and non-communication majors to play games, enjoy snacks, and listen to the campus radio station, Radio GBX. “I thought it had the best turnout, and it was a ton of fun to decorate and set up,” Hart said, reflecting on the final event before Thursday’s banquet.
On Thursday, April 6th, there were three competitions before the banquet. In the 3x3x3 event, students showcased a group project from a communication class. They were tasked with converting their presentation to a trifold to present to a panel of three judges. They had three minutes to present and six minutes for questions and answers. Next up was the film competition. Students submitted work from a class or their personal work, with a limit of up to three minutes. The last competition was the Meet the CEO competition. Students who participated in this event were emailed three different prompts 48 hours in advance. Competitors found out their prompt when they walk into the competition, and had five minutes to respond, followed by five minutes of Q & A.
Following the competitions, Michael Nyenhuis from UNICEF USA gave a speech on his time at UWGB as a student and his journey to becoming the CEO of UNICEF. Nyenhuis said he took a chance at writing for the campus publication, The Fourth Estate, and that it drew him into the communication program. After graduating, he fed his passion for journalism by covering stories abroad, which led him to explore the world of humanitarianism.
In regards to planning the competitions and banquet, Hart said the most challenging part was contacting people. “Genuinely, we needed the sheer amount of people to be in constant contact with to make sure things were going according to plan. I don’t think there was a single day of the planning process that I had an empty email inbox – I always had at least three people I was simultaneously talking with.” In the end, Hart said the hard work paid off and that the team got overwhelmingly positive feedback from students and professors alike.
Breeze Christian is majoring in communication and will graduate this spring. It was Professor Danielle Bina who introduced Christian to the COMM Week Team which he considered to be a success, “We saw good attendance in most events, and everything we scheduled went as planned. The week ended on a high note as well with the banquet running smoothly and hearing nothing but good feedback from all who attended.”
Throughout COMM Week, Christian described his role as a student networker, “I went to classes and gave a presentation marketing our COMM Week events and explaining what it is.”
“My favorite part of COMM Week was developing relationships with the COMM Week team, alumni, professors, and other COMM majors,” Christian said. He did offer suggestions for next year’s event, “Only thing I would change is slightly altering the times of some events to allow more students to have the chance to attend.”
Phil Clampitt, a Professor at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay, worked closely with the students to host this event. Clampitt says there is a lot of attention to detail needed for every aspect of COMM Week. Clampitt attended many events throughout the week, saying, “I was going to play corn hole at the Wednesday event, but I saw all the talent in the room and decided to yield to the pros.”
Clampitt said when he recommended students for competitions, they mainly looked for students with high-quality projects and a yearning for continuous improvement. He even met with some of the alumni judging the competitions who have participated in the competitions in the past. “Our alumni provide a vital connection to opportunities in all the fields where our students end up starting their careers,” said Clampitt. “It is a great event with lots of leadership and PR opportunities for our students. It can help them hone their skills and develop great stories to share with potential employers,” said Clampitt, “The faculty are very proud of how the entire team collaborated with a range of people with various viewpoints and showcased the entire range of emphases in the department including OrgComm, PR, Social Media, and Media.”
The competitions on April 6th included a 3x3x3 showcase, a film festival, and Meet the CEO. Sydney Gang, a senior majoring in business administration, participated in Meet the CEO and won the competition. Gang said, “I really enjoyed the competition more than winning it. It was a cool concept and really helped improve my communication and problem-solving skills.” During COMM Week, Gang attended COMM Together, COMMplete Your Portfolio and the banquet. Gang says, “COMM Week helped me learn more about the comm department and exposed me to a number of great individuals I was able to network with. I also learned to over-prepare, be confident, and be ready to think on your feet.”
Josh Buntin, a junior in the communication program, competed in the Film Festival. He had heard of the Film Festival competition before but didn’t enter until this year. He was encouraged to enter this year’s festival by fellow peers. Buntin said, “I was very surprised when I heard I had won. I’ve never entered a film festival before, and it was very surprising to learn something I made had won an award,”
Buntin’s video was about the planned demolition of the Cofrin Library and the Cofrin Technology & Education Center. Buntin heard about the plan in 2021 and was still interested, so he made a video. He was just glad to take part in COMM Week. “I entered primarily because of the encouragement, and also, I thought it would be cool to do, as well as take part in COMM Week, even if I didn’t win,” Buntin said.
Frankie Breit, a junior in the communication program, was present at all of the COMM Week events throughout the week. Breit says that his favorite event aside from the banquet was the WelCOMM to the Jungle event. “I got to hang out with fellow students and professors in an informal environment,” Breit says. “It was great to play games, eat snacks, and just enjoy my time!” The banquet proved to be the most influential for Breit. “The guest speaker, Mr. Nyenhuis, taught me a very valuable lesson,” says Breit. “My future is out there. I will find what I want to do, and I will be happy. Though things aren’t already clear, life will work itself out in the end.”
Daniel Bestul served alongside Sarah Hart as co-director of COMM Week for the first time this year. Last year, he was the videographer for COMM Week, putting together a promotional video and recap video. As a co-director in 2023, Bestul saw all of the work put in to make the week happen.
“There are a lot of tasks to take care of and plan for,” explained Bestul. “A lot of event planning, email, and communication had to take place for this week-long event. I do think that COMM Week was a success and had a great banquet to top it off. Seeing friends, family, and professors come out and see what the students put on is pretty cool.”