Communication Students Create Real-World Impact

Communication Students
From left, MaryRose Daily ’18 CLAS, Devin Hassinger ’18 CLAS, Veronica Manley ’17 CLAS, Siobhan O’Toole ’18 CLAS and Sarah Stiglianese ’18 CLAS. (Kathleen O’Connor ’18 CLAS not pictured.)

It’s a common occurrence to see passion meet purpose in the College for Liberal Arts and Sciences. For Veronica Manley ’17 CLAS, and five other Communication students, creating a media toolkit for the Pennsylvania Alliance Against the Trafficking of Humans—a coalition of organizations dedicated to implementing Pennsylvania’s comprehensive human trafficking laws—had real-world impact for the organization’s mission and resume-building opportunities for the students.

“This project taught us skills that could help us in the future, but it also helped us realize that although we lead busy lives, a little goes a long way to help someone else,” says Veronica. “As long as you are passionate about your work, whatever you do, big or small, can impact others in a positive way.”

Veronica said the team wanted to complete a project that would efficiently serve the organization’s needs and lay a foundation for it to grow. She along with Devin Hassinger ’18 CLAS, MaryRose Daily ’18 CLAS, Sarah Stiglianese ’18 CLAS, Siobhan O’Toole ’18 CLAS and Kathleen O’Connor ’18 CLAS created a logo for the organization, a social media campaign to educate the public and a media outreach plan.

“The logo was our most important task for them, and they did an amazing job,” said Michelle Cooper, a member of PAATH’s steering committee and a Human Trafficking Advocate at YWCA of York County “We did not have an ‘official’ logo before this, and we feel the one they created will really help us in future public awareness campaigns.”

PAATH intends to implement the logo, build on the students’ communication plan and continue to collaborate with Villanova Communication students. This opportunity stems from an interdisciplinary partnership between Shea Rhodes ’97 JD, director the Villanova Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation—a member organization of PAATH—and Billie Murray, PhD, associate professor of Communication. It’s been an educational experience for both the students and the organization.

“The two semesters that I have had the chance to work with Dr. Murray’s students have far exceeded any expectations that I initially had,” says Rhodes. “I have learned so much from them—about messaging and rhetoric, how to create content and what goes in to that process.”

The semester-long project was one of a dozen senior Communication projects in fall 2017. Other student projects ranged from creating a newsletter for the Graterford Prison literacy program to researching mental health disorders in student-athletes.