Meet Dept. Chair and Professor, Brian Steffen

Whether you’re in the multimedia communications major or not, you’re bound to have a class with, or at least meet professor Brian Steffen during your academic career at Simpson.

He’s the professor who can inspire you with his vast amount of knowledge and expertise, but he can be the professor who challenges every viewpoint and opinion you have on a particular stance. It’s all for good reason, though. He plays the role of devil’s advocate so students thoroughly research their stance and have the confidence to defend it without second guessing themselves.

Pushing students out of their comfort zone is exactly why each student who graduates through the multimedia communications program has a strong mentality and the matching confidence of someone who graduated from well-known university specifically specializing in the field of communication and media.

Read the Q&A to get to know professor Steffen better and to learn all of the changes made to the department throughout the years.

How long have you been at Simpson College?

I’ve been here since 1989. Longer than most of you have been alive.

How have you seen the department change over the years?

It’s obviously grown a lot. When I started, we had only two faculty members – 1 speech professor and 1 journalism professor. It has grown into a much broader program with more opportunities for students to get involved  with The Simpsonian, ID Magazine, PRSSA, Speech & Debate and even Mock Trial.

The most important thing is demonstrating the value of media and communications in a liberal arts environment. There are a lot of liberal arts colleges who don’t believe in this kind of major to offer to their students.

How do students set themselves apart by going through the multimedia communications department?

Our goal is to have students build a sense of confidence in themselves both professionally and academically. We want them to have the confidence and mindset that they can take on anyone, anywhere in the world.

I’ve seen it first hand – nothing stops Simpson students from working on a bigger stage than Des Moines. We have graduates in great jobs in several big cities. We want our students to know they are capable to own that bigger stage.

What do you love most about teaching within this department?

I have never thought of teaching as a job. I get up every morning , and I love doing this. I can truly say I’ve spent my life doing something I love with students I love and seeing them develop and grow over the years.

What’s a fun fact about you?

I had a hole-in-one on the fly at Chester Park golf course on the 8th hole!

Born a Strong Writer and Compelling Storyteller, Laura Wiersema

If you’re studying within the multimedia communications major or read the Simpsonian, it’s obvious you know of junior Laura Wiersema.

If you don’t know of her, it’s about time you do.

I have had the opportunity to get to know Laura better from taking similar classes with her this semester. Let me tell you – this girl knows her stuff and she has an incredible gift to write. Don’t believe me, just check out her stories in issues of The Simpsonian.

For the Fall 2016 semester she was placed on the President’s List which means she maintained a whole semester with a 4.0 GPA. Let this sink in. She maintained a 4.0 GPA while juggling classes, working at her internship with the Office of Marketing and Public Relations and being a news editor for The Simpsonian.  

If you are unaware of the duties of a news editor for The Simpsonian, one of their main duties is creating the paper’s layout which takes late nights (past most college students bedtimes).

Laura is a dedicated student who has a professional, down-to-business demeanor. She is a great friend to all and a fantastic leader for the Simpson multimedia communications community.

Read more about junior multimedia journalism major, Laura Wiersema and how she plans to share the lives of others, one story at a time.

Tell me a bit about yourself – what are your hobbies, interests and passions?

 I love a good coffee shop. My family just moved to a completely different area so I spent awhile trying different coffee shops to find the one for me.

An ideal day for me is where I can spend the entire time sitting in a cozy coffee shop and get my work done.

There’s nothing better to me than spending time with family and friends. My family are some of the weirdest people I know, but they’re also very supportive and funny – I wouldn’t trade them for the world. Since my family moved so far away from Simpson, my friends here are very important to me. They’re my Simpson family – my home away from home. I don’t know what I would do without them.

Could you explain your leadership role with The Simpsonian?

I am the news editor for The Simpsonian. In my role I assign the stories to reporters every week, read and edit their stories after they’ve been written and help make editorial decisions. Luckily, I have been doing it for two years now (starting as a sophomore).

It was weird being in a leadership role over people who were older than me, but it’s been a learning experience. It’s a fun environment with the other editors – they make the late nights creating the layout enjoyable.

Have you had any internship experience, undergrad assistant or work study experience? If so, where and what were your daily tasks?

This year, I am the intern in the Office of Marketing and Public Relations on campus. I write stories for the Simpson website and the Simpson magazine. There are wonderful people working on the 3rd floor in Hillman Hall.

I know you’re a fantastic writer having read your work. Could you explain how you became so passionate about writing?

Growing up, my teachers always told me I was a strong writer, but I never thought anything of it. I can remember back to 7th grade when my teacher, Mrs. Engeman encouraged me to write more. Then in high school, my AP English teacher pushed me as well. I remember when it came time to take the AP test, I was so nervous about the writing portion. However, when we got our scores back, I had received one of the highest in the class.

How did you know you wanted to get into writing?

When I started looking at schools, I thought I wanted to study graphic design. When I got to Simpson, I signed up for a drawing class my first semester. I only went once before I realized it wasn’t for me.

My SC leader suggested I take Beginning News Writing and Reporting with Professor Mark Siebert. It took a little bit of time, but when I started to do well in the class, I realized how fun it was. It was part of my job to talk to people and ask them questions, which I could already do anyways.

Being a good writer just happened. I think I picked up my writing skills through all the reading I did growing up. My mom constantly pushed my siblings to read. Now, I love being able to tell other people’s stories because otherwise they might not be told. This is the most rewarding part about writing.

What have you enjoyed most about studying within the multimedia communications major?

Professor Siebert is one of my favorite people in the world. He pushes me to do things out of my comfort zone, but he is also a great resource for me when I’m struggling with something. If nothing else, he’s always there for a good laugh.

And Brian Steffen has the valuable insights and connections that I’m quite positive can’t be found elsewhere.

What’s your dream job?

I’m still trying to figure this out and keep my mind open. I haven’t tried broadcast journalism yet, but I LOVE the Today Show. I think it would be rewarding to be a part of that production.

Another path I think would be fun is something like Humans of New York. It is the epitome of telling people’s stories. At the ACP conference The Simpsonian went to this year, Bob Woodard said, “Be a human first and a journalist second.”

Quiet and Humble but her Dreams Speak Volumes

I had the pleasure of sitting down and having a face-to-face interview with theatre and journalism major, Britteny Johnson, for our weekly “Student Feature Friday” posts and boy was I surprised.

This past semester, I had a class with Britteny and I had never known her before then, but after having her in class and speaking with her, I wish I would have known her sooner.

A few things I knew about Britteny before I spoke with her for this feature:

  1. She picked the right major to be in (Multimedia Communications), obviously!
  2. She was quiet, yet focused and I knew she had strong opinions on issues we talked about within class discussions but she always remained cool, calm and collected which is a demeanor most people don’t have.

 

Although I already knew these great things about Britteny through class, speaking with her brought attention to more. She is kind and soft-spoken, as we all know, but I didn’t know about her love for theatre and the big aspirations of making it on the big screen one day.

I would have never known.

Yet, aside from theatre, there is so much more behind Britteny and who she is. Read more about her from my sit-down interview with her on this weeks, Student Feature Friday.

Tell me a bit about yourself – passions, hobbies?

I am very passionate about theatre and journalism – two big reasons why I chose Simpson College. To be honest, it’s hard to do a lot out outside of those two things because they both take up so much of my life.

However, when I do get free time, I love reading. I’ll read anything and everything. When I go on long road trips with my boyfriend, I read aloud the Harry Potter series to him.

You mentioned theatre and journalism take up a lot of time – just how much?

During show time for theatre, depending on what role or position I have, you have countless rehearsals and spend a lot of time building or designing costumes. It typically takes 2 hours out of my schedule per night.

Do you have any internships or undergrad assistantship experience?

I have been applying for many communications internships because I want to discover more within this field such as graphic design and marketing. But currently, I am the costume UGA. I do a lot of stitching, building, fixing, as well as cleaning, organizing and stocking the shop. My boss really delegates a lot of work to me on a daily basis and I just get after it!

What is your involvement like on campus?

I have a leadership position as the vice president of Alpha Psi Omega, which is the honorary theatre fraternity on campus. We’ve done events like the ‘Nightmare on C Street’, which is a creepy haunted walk.

Another fun thing we do is the ‘Murder Mystery Desert Party’, where we create a script, have different motives for each individual and we give clues to the guests to find out who was the murderer. It’s a lot of fun.

We’ve also put on children’s theatre camps which is a way for us to do musical theatre and create crafts with kids as well as a fundraising and outreach out to the Indianola and Des Moines community.

Why did you choose the Multimedia Communications Department to continue your education at Simpson?

I knew for a fact I was going to minor in theatre when I came to Simpson because it was something I really enjoyed throughout my last few years of high school and when I visited the people were all extremely nice.

However, I came and talked with professor Brian Steffen and I really enjoyed my visit and what the department had to offer – the program really just drew me in.

If you were to have your dream job today, what would it be?

Anything that has to do with reporting whether it is print or broadcast. However, I would love to be a famous celebrity in movies someday.

The Guy Who Will Never Need an Introduction

Everyone at Simpson College knows of Alex Shier, and there’s no doubt he’ll be known by everyone in this future public relations career. 

Most people know Alex Shier as an outgoing, witty, creative thinker who knows just about every lyric Kanye West has ever produced…and I mean every.single.lyric.

Aside from his abilities and tenacious attitude to find and provide good music to play at any time, he can also make everyone laugh until they cry all at the same time.

However, most don’t know about Alex’s professional and academic side. For those who don’t, he is the ‘poster child’ for all things communication and public relations.

From mastering the art of selling himself by creating a clear, concise ‘elevator pitch’ on what he can bring to the table, to his sharp thinking to create ingenious ideas right on the spot – Alex is what every student aspires to become, whether or not they’re studying within the journalism or public relations major.

Working with Alex this year, I know he works tirelessly and doesn’t stop until everything’s perfect. And as all of us communicators and public relations professionals know, this is what the field is all about – perfecting your work and putting in a lot of late nights.

He is already on the track for immense success.

Read more about junior public relations major, Alex Shier, on his professional and personal aspirations and profound love for Kanye West on this weeks, “Student Feature Friday” post.

Tell me a bit about yourself. What are your interests, hobbies and passions?

I love music – hip-hop and R&B, specifically. I have an unusual obsession with Kanye West. He is the GOAT (Greatest of All Time) and I will take that to my grave. Almost always, you can catch me singing, rapping and dancing. I also love creating videos and doing improvisational comedy because I love making people laugh at my ‘stupidity’.

What are your leadership roles on campus?

I am currently the social media coordinator for PRSSA and I also oversee the PR/Marketing committee within our organization on different content strategies and implementations we’ve developed this year.

Ultimately, I handle all social platforms for our organization and run our organizations website with help from the different committee members.

What internship experience have you had and where? What did you do?

This summer I worked as the marketing intern for Miller Products Company doing a variety of different tasks from writing blogs, developing marketing campaigns, designing a brand new website, managing social media and designed print and online ads. I have worn many hats throughout this internship experience.

The website has been my biggest project. I’ve had no web development or coding experience going into this project. Essentially, this summer consisted of several YouTube tutorials on coding in order for me to become competent in building this website.

From this internship experience, did it solidify your career path or make you think of other potential options?

Miller Products Co. is a B2B (business-to-business) company and I’m not sure if it’s the path I want to take. It has been a great experience to see how B2B’s operate in terms of communication, however, it’s not for me.

I know you’re really into music – could you explain more about your passion for it and where you might want to go with it?

I would love to collaborate with artists within the music industry and work in different areas of promotion and management.

The promotion side of music such as the tours and being part of establishing and managing artists ‘personal brand’ became very appealing to me after I read, All You Need to Know About the Music Business: Ninth Edition by Don Passman.

It’s the best of both worlds bringing music and communication into one career path.

What made you choose Simpson College and the Multimedia Communications department to further your education?

 I chose Simpson because it stuck out to me from the other college visits I had. Everyone was so welcoming and encouraging. I felt comfortable speaking with staff members about the college and the different programs they offered.

I sat in on a management class and it was really interactive and discussion oriented which was a big influence in my decision to come here.

Initially, I wanted to go into marketing, however, my SC class was about propaganda, art of ‘spin’ and all the major influencers to walk through the profession throughout the years. I have become the number one fan of Edward Bernays. I knew from then on, I wanted to switch my major from marketing to public relations.

What does your dream job look like?

Simple. I want to be Kanye West’s publicist and be the one to save his reputation. LET ME HELP YOU, KANYE.

 

Another Day, Another Successful Showing from Speech & Debate.

On December 2nd–3rd, Simpson College Speech and Debate team competed in the Valley Forensic League’s first tournament hosted by Southwest Minnesota State University located in Marshall, Minn.

Both teams produced impressive results throughout the two-day tournament.

Speech results:

  • Riley Brennan: 2nd place in Poetry Interpretation and 6th place in Dramatic Interpretation
  • Abby Schulte: 6th place in ‘After Dinner Speaking’ as well as the Top Novice Award
  • Lydia Magalhaes: 7th place in Program Oral Interpretation

Debate results:

  • Lydia Magalhaes and Kelsey Schott: remained undefeated in the preliminary rounds, advancing to the semi-finals. They defeated the University of North Dakota on a 3-0 decision to advance to the finals
  • Bobbi Fogle and Sarah Baker: remained undefeated in preliminaries and advanced to the semi-finals. They defeated Saint Cloud State on 2-1 decision

These four debate team members finished the tournament with an impressive 11-1 record and closed out the finals bracket. Bobbi Fogle was named the tournament’s ‘Top Speaker’ from the debate team.

It was a solid weekend filled with great strides and victories. Congratulate these members on their outstanding efforts and dedication to performing at their best level.

Michael Reuter: Principal Financial Group

Written by Cassie Nemmers, Career Coach

 

What was he up to?

Michael Reuter ’17 spent the summers of 2015 and 2016 interning for the Principal Financial Group in Des Moines, Iowa. The Principal Financial Group is a global financial investment management leader offering businesses, individuals, and institutional clients a wide range of financial products. Here, Michael worked in the Information Services department, which “manages infrastructure and systems like email that are used by all of the company’s business units.”

 

Michael commented, “During my first summer I worked on the Workspace Development team as an application developer, mainly improving a .NET MVC application used by another team to keep inventory of networking equipment. This past summer I worked for a different team that managed the company’s storage infrastructure. As a member of this team I learned a lot about storage technologies and helped with tasks such as allocating storage to a new server. I also had the opportunity to work on an all-intern project this past summer. For this project I was on a team of ten people who were tasked with creating a database and reporting system to collect and view data about automation tests. This project took about a quarter of my time and involved many meetings with “clients” who in this case were fellow employees who would be using the system. My team also met daily for stand-up meetings.”

 

Michael also had the opportunity to participate in the Intern Code Jam both summers, as seen in the picture above, with fellow Simpson Student, Ellie Luebbe. Michael commented, “This is a week-long programming event where teams of interns compete to create the best application. All ideas are submitted by employees and have a business need for the company. My teams created great projects both years and we won in 2015. Last year they didn’t select winners but I think we still did well.”

 

How did he find out about the internship?

Michael found out about his internships through his classes here at Simpson College. Michael says, “Simpson College has a good relationship with Principal as many of our graduates work there.” One of his professors even invited recent Simpson graduates to speak to his class.

 

What strengths did Michael show in his internship?

Michael says that he was able to demonstrate his technical knowledge as well as many interpersonal communication skills. “I had to schedule [a lot] of meetings and meet with quite a few people each summer which [was] good experience. I learned how to plan my questions and keep things moving.”

 

Why does Michael feel it is important for students to intern?

Michael commented, “I think these internships were very important because they helped me develop technical skills, develop as an individual, and because they gave me a good idea of what a full-time position at the company would look like.

 

What is on the horizon for him?

Unfortunately at the end of his internship this summer (2016) there were not any vacant positions in Information Services, but he hopes there will be positions to apply for in the spring. He is also currently looking at IT positions with different companies.

Enjoy your senior year, Michael; a bright future awaits you!

Simpson Student Spends Thanksgiving at Standing Rock Reservation

Thanksgiving break is traditionally spent with family and friends bonding over endless mountains of mashed potatoes and piles of turkey along with enduring the Black Friday shopping chaos.

How lucky are we to experience family, friends, food and the warmth and comfort of our own homes completely uninterrupted? This Thanksgiving, the individuals of Standing Rock Sioux Reservation didn’t have the comfort of friends, family, unity and safety.

For months they’ve been experiencing the endless amounts of violent protesting, threats from police and government officials with anything from teared gas, water bombs, pepper spray and invasion of their sacred reservation land.

While we were all comfortably enjoying our Thanksgiving feasts, Olivia Anderson, made the trip to Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota to help protest the pipeline taking over their sacred reservation lands.

“The pipeline originally was going to go through Bismarck, North Dakota ­– a predominately white town,” Anderson said in a presentation of her trip on Thursday, Dec. 1. “The individuals of that community protested and were able to overturn the decision for the pipeline to run through Bismarck, hence why it is now being implemented through the Standing Rock reservation.”

A local newspaper Olivia Anderson brought back to display the coverage of the protests within the town.

A local newspaper Olivia Anderson brought back to display the coverage of the protests within the town.

On Nov. 24, 2016, Olivia woke up at 5 a.m. to hit the road with two friends from the University of Mississippi. They ended up reaching the reservation around 6 p.m.

Sure enough, they mistakenly put the wrong address in their Google Maps and were directed to the donation center. However, they ended up meeting individuals from Nebraska who were also planning to protest at the reservation site – they helped direct them to the reservation site and made it there safely.

The first night there they set up camp and did everything they could to remain warm throughout the cold North Dakota night. They spent time talking with the individuals from Nebraska. “Everyone was so kind and welcoming,” Anderson said.

The next day Anderson and her friends got a feel for the reservation site. Anderson noticed that individuals who were ‘brown’ were being specifically targeted by the police. The police strategically did this so they could get individuals to deport since most haven’t obtained their American citizenship yet.

“Individuals who were getting arrested that were white, were being taken in, then released without any charges,” Anderson said. “However, those who were brown, were being arrested left and right and they were being held on outrageous bail charges.”

There is a lot people don’t realize going into this protest. There are a lot of complexities and day-to-day operations which take several weeks of planning.

For example, anyone who wants to be in the front-lines of the protest, have to take a three-hour training course on what to expect and how to handle emergency or crisis situations. This training session is held daily at 3 p.m. where 200-300 people show up.

Anderson took this training and was in shock of everything they trained you on. The training consisted of what to do if someone is pepper sprayed, tear gassed, arrested or even experiences someone get violent with them.

The people holding the training session suggested that individuals wear bandanas over their mouth and wear the goggles you wore back in 8th grade chemistry class due to the number of things thrown or sprayed.

“It was a very eye opening experience and incredibly heart breaking to see the disrespect from the police towards these individuals who are protesting their water and the burial and sacred land they’ve known all their life,” Anderson said.

This doesn’t even make a dent into the experience and information Olivia learned from this eye-opening experience.

If you are looking for ways you can get involved with helping this cause, Olivia Anderson is the perfect person to reach out to provide information as well as someone to discuss the issue with. Olivia can be reached at Olivia.Anderson@my.simpson.edu.

Future world-traveler, PR pro and organizational guru, Mallory Dirks.

If you were to look up Mallory Dirks name in the dictionary you would find the following description:

A radiantly positive person who continually brightens the lives of others without even trying. Even if you’re experiencing a bad day, you can always count on Mallory to bring a positive, fun and upbeat energy to the table.

Aside from her contagious personality, Mallory does have a serious side. She is constantly engaged. Whether it be in class, social media, politics or social issues – she is continually finding ways to engage herself and remain informed.

Not only a hard-worker but this girl takes ‘organizational freak’ to new heights. She color-coats everything, maps out every single detail within her planner and takes some ridiculously detailed notes. It’s seriously awesome.

She’s always on top of it and it shows.

As a public relations major with women’s and gender studies and sociology minors, Mallory is a top student in the eyes of her peers and professors. As someone who has worked with Mallory on a daily basis, I know she brings something to the table every day and always delivers her best.

Read the Q&A on Mallory on this week’s “Student Feature Friday.”

 

Tell me a bit more about yourself. What are your interests, passions, hobbies?

I have always had a love for sports – basketball being my favorite. Travel has become a huge part of my life which I hope to continue throughout my life. I love reading, writing, spending time with my friends and of course, Netflix documentaries and TV Shows.

 

What internship experience(s) have you had, and where? Could you briefly talk about them and what you do/did?

I was the media intern briefly at Central Iowa Sports in Des Moines last spring. I would mainly take photos and videos of the little league tournaments they hosted, along with some administrative work.

I also interned in the Office of Marketing and Public Relations at Simpson over the summer where I wrote articles for the website and magazine. I loved that experience and it really helped improve my writing.

 

From that internship experience, did it solidify your career path or did it make you think of other options?

 GOOD QUESTION. Both experiences were more journalism-focused, but it reaffirmed my love for writing. I have been looking at any possible path at this point.

 

I know you are the UGA for the athletics department – could you expand more on your responsibilities?

There are two aspects of my job really – organizing and staffing the athletic events at home and coverage of the events. I’m also the main contact for swimming, so for the entirety of the season, I will write the recaps for the results of each meet.

I am in charge of staffing most home events. It can get kind of stressful in the fall season with soccer, volleyball and football, but I really enjoy organizing and I’m always up for a good challenge.

The athletic department challenged me this year by making sure there was at least one home event each during fall break, Thanksgiving break and Christmas break.

 

What made you choose Simpson College and the Multimedia Communications department?

My parents, both Central graduates (LOL, Mal says), encouraged that I look at Simpson because they knew it was a great college – and they were right.

It immediately felt like home and I knew it was the place for me. The morning after my overnight stay, I put down my deposit.

The multimedia communications department seemed perfect for my college goals. After meeting with the honorable Professor Steffen, I was convinced this was the right fit for me.


What are you involved with here on campus?

I am the secretary and treasurer of our PRSSA chapter here on campus and have been involved with the organization for most of my college career.

I am a new member of the Simpson Feminists organization on campus and I’m really excited about it.

I have also been a member of Campus Activities Board, Best Buddies, Latinos Unidos and PRIDE.

I have also been lucky to have two chances to study abroad through Simpson. I went on a May Term to Thailand and spent a semester abroad in London. I think those two experiences have really help shape my Simpson career outside of my major.

 

What is your dream job/career? What do you see yourself doing for the rest of your professional career?

I wish I knew. My dream job changes every week. Right now, my biggest goal is to live in a new place or have the opportunity to travel.

Exploring Agencies: A Glimpse into the World of Professional PR

Contribution by Sydney Vrban

As members of PRSSA, students are offered multiple opportunities to develop themselves as young professionals. One opportunity as PRSSA members arose in the form of a tour: an inside look at three different Des Moines companies in the span of one evening.

After typical business hours came to a close, students were led through the halls of Principle Financial Group, Iowa Workforce Development and Two Rivers Marketing. They gained valuable insight on each company’s goals in relation to their image, their philosophy and personal opinions regarding careers in the communications field.

 

Principal Financial Group

The tour began by introducing students to the inner workings of the Principal building in downtown Des Moines. Employees allowed students to explore their updated facilities, focusing on the modern new advancements including an open floor plan and elimination of cubicles.

A goal of the public relations team was to revamp the image of Principal while working together with financial professionals in the company. Ultimately, students responded very positively to the atmosphere of the company, and they learned a valuable lesson in communicating successfully within a business to advance potentially risky projects.

 

Iowa Workforce Development

This non-profit organization focused more on the journey of a public relations professional. The guide described the benefits in having a major in journalism and public relations from a career standpoint. The focus of this company was to do good work for the community. The tour guide allowed students to ask questions regarding their areas of interest and to gain valuable knowledge on the journey of a communications professional.

 

Two Rivers Marketing

Students were awed by Two Rivers Marketing’s innovative ideas and the modern atmosphere of their office. The company employs the idea that quality work will be done in a place which supports creative collaboration between individuals.

One of their main points was having a relaxed atmosphere is the best way to support creative minds. While being led through the building, students were invited to ask questions about anything regarding the business or the people who work there. Employers explained their most sought after qualities in potential employees, and the importance of strong writing skills in the PR world.

Events like these are simply one part of what makes PRSSA so valuable to students. If you are interested in joining or learning more about PRSSA, please contact Ashley Dalsing at ashley.dalsing@my.simpson.edu, or Jane Murphy at jane.murphy@simpson.edu.

Willadsen Stands by “If it’s Easy, it’s Not Worth It.”

From grueling six a.m. workouts, using travel time to cross country meets as study time while also being heavily involved in extracurricular activities, Blake Willadsen has found success through the Multimedia Communications department and at Simpson College.

Willadsen has made several sacrifices by joining the Simpson men’s cross country team to train each and every year to be in prime shape for the season. These sacrifices have paid off because the work ethic Blake puts into his studies, cross country and outside activities each and every day show tremendously.

Aside from his dedication to cross country, Blake has found ample success within his marketing major and public relations and art minors.

Blake is the true definition of a go-getter and we can’t wait to see where he heads once his academic career at Simpson ends and he transitions into his professional career. He has big things awaiting him in the future and any professor or student within our Multimedia Communications department at Simpson College knows this to be true.

Read this weeks “Student Feature Friday” Q&A on Blake and how he has found a home and success through Simpson’s Multimedia Communications Department.

Tell me a bit about yourself. What are your hobbies, passions and volunteer efforts?

I am an avid runner with a passion for athletics in general. I love watching the Hawks, the Storm and all kinds of professional sports; especially soccer and track and field. I travel as often as I can and enjoy listening to a good album or watching YouTube documentaries and quirky 80s movies. I also try and dedicate myself to service through volunteer with groups I am involved with on campus.

What made you choose Simpson College and the Multimedia Communications department?

I felt like I was at home when I visited Simpson my senior year of high school. It was a great fit academically and gave me an opportunity to keep being involved with athletics and some of the other activities I was involved with in high school.

I didn’t originally plan to study public relations when I came to Simpson, but after taking the intro classes with Professor Brian Steffen and Professor Mark Siebert, my interest piqued.

The involvement of the staff in our department is second to none and I don’t think any student can be involved with communication studies and feel bored with their studies.

What’s your involvement like on campus?

I have been a member of Simpson Student Media since the end of my sophomore year and this has helped me dive into our local campus community. Through my experience as layout editor on The Simpsonian, I have learned to love the fast pace and engaging world of journalism.

This semester, I took over as editor-in-chief of ID Magazine and have learned a lot about organizing a publication with a lot of moving pieces and I can’t wait to see the reaction of the campus when it is released.

I also am involved on the men’s cross country team serving as the captain for the past two years. Through cross country, I have watched our program grow and along the way I have made lifelong friends. Being at a small school like Simpson, we are very involved every step of the way. From recruiting, organizing volunteer opportunities and helping create a positive and close team atmosphere, I have learned to bring people together under a shared goal.

Could you talk about the cross country team and how being a student-athlete has shaped your college experience?

 Joining the cross country team was probably the smartest decision I’ve made at Simpson. I have had to make a few sacrifices along the way in my personal life to train year-round for running, but the comradery of my teammates in cross and track and field makes it well worth it.

At Simpson, we talk a lot about trying to fulfill a liberal arts education; gaining the skills making you not just a well-rounded student, but a well-rounded human being.

From the 6 a.m. workouts, to the long bus rides doubling as study time, I feel I’ve gained those intangibles which will help me be patient and relentless in working towards what I want in life moving forward.

It hasn’t been easy, but nothing that’s worth it in life is.

Lastly, what do you see yourself doing for your dream job?

 I would love to get into the creative process at an advertising agency. Whether it is on the writing or design side of things, I am excited by the work coming out of some our Des Moines agencies and would love to dive right in to that kind of atmosphere.

In the last year I have also been really inspired to want to pur­sue a career with a social justice or community focus. Whether it’d be working for an organization like the ACLU, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants or the Greater Des Moines Partnership — I feel like there is an urgency for us to focus on helping our communities and fighting for the rights we all deserve as Americans.

This kind of work seems more important now more than ever and I don’t want to look back on my career and feel like a sat back on the sidelines when people needed help.