Skip to the page content Skip to primary navigation Skip to the search form Skip to the audience-based navigation Skip to the site tools and log-in Information about website accessibility

Speech Communication

Alumni Updates

Janine Armstrong (MA-2012) had a cultural analysis paper accepted to present at the Applied Division of the Southern State Communication Association in 84th Annual Convention in April at New Orleans,. Her paper is titled: “A Cultural Analysis of College Department X.”

Ashley (Boccarossa) McNatt (MA-2007) is the EOC Operations Manager & Staff Duty Officer Coordinator for the Arkansas Department of Health Preparedness & Emergency Response Branch.

Heide Harrell (M.A-2006) is Senior Public Relations Account Manager for Stone Ward in Little Rock.

Natalie Holley (MA-2003) accepted a full-time, one year instructor position at Southeast Missouri State University at the Cape Girardeau campus. She taught the basic course online this past spring semester and had an awesome experience! She is also becoming a Quality Matters online course peer reviewer at the university level. Natalie adds: “I hope that you know how much of a positive impact you all have made on my professional life.”

Dr. Scott J. Robson (MA-1999) is Chair/Assistant Professor for the Department of Communication Studies at Fort Hays State University.

Tonya Oaks Smith (MA-2008) accepted a position as “Executive Director of Marketing and Communications at Henderson State University.”

Elizabeth Stephens (MA –2000) is an Assistant Professor at Middle Tennessee State University where she teaches online and develops online courses for the department.

Adena J. White(MA-2009) successfully completed the Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations, entitling her to use the APR professional designation. The designation is granted by the Universal Accreditation Board, a consortium of nine professional communication organizations that directs this competency certification program. The Accreditation program aims to improve the practice of public relations by assessing competence in 60 areas of knowledge, skills and abilities associated with the profession. Adena is director of communications for the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce and is a member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). She is serving a three-year term on the board of directors for the Arkansas Chapter of PRSA.

Updated 2.5.2014

Alumni Updates and more

Dear Speech Communication Alumni, Students, & Faculty, , Here are a few updates and as always, let us know if you have news you want to share!

Kevin Gao (MA class of 1990) is Managing Director and Associate General Counsel at New York Life Investments. He and his wife and two daughters (ages 14 and 12) live in Ridgewood, NJ. Thank you for sharing this update and glad to hear of your continued service!

Dr. J. Jacob Jenkins(MA class of 2006), completed his Ph.D. at University of South Florida (in record time!), and received an appointment as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at California State University at Channel Islands. Work from his dissertation, “The Diversity Paradox: Dialectical Tensions of an Intercultural Organization,” has been accepted for publication in book form. He has also successfully published several journal articles. We are proud of your work!

Dr. Alyssa Grace Millner (MA class of 2006) works as Program Director and Assistant Professor of Communication at King University. Knoxville, TN. She was also promoted to serve as the Associate Dean of Humanities for the College of Arts & Sciences. She conducts an array of research in Crisis Communication, Communication Ethics, and Health Communication. She is engaged to be married this September. We are proud of your accomplishments and great to learn of exciting news!

This past year, four MA students (Class of 2011), Kelley Cooper, Erin Pavioni, Elvon Reed, and Janine Armstrong, were admitted to Alpha Lambda Epsilon, the “Academic Excellence and Leadership Honor Society of Graduate and Professional School Students.” Way to go!

GRAD Students AEL.jpg

Updated 8.7.2013

Katie Halford Joins Faculty

Katie.jpegPlease join us in welcoming Katie Halford (MA Class 2010) as a new faculty member in the Speech Communication Department. We are excited to have Katie join our faculty to serve our basic course students. Katie served as a GA for two years where she played a central role in providing communication training on and off campus. Prior to her GA role, she worked at Acxiom as a Communications Manager (Intern) in Global Client Solutions.

Updated 8.31.2012

MA Alumni to Lead Mount St. Mary

K FlakeKaren Goodhart Flake, a 1987 graduate of our master’s program has been appointed as president and chief executive officer for Mount St. Mary Academy for girls.

A former teacher, business operator, and civic leader, Flake was a managing partner at an entrepreneurial firm, Flake-Wilkerson Market Insights, for 11 years before it was sold in 2007.

In 2009, she established Karen Flake & Associates, a research and consulting firm that collects primary data and analyzes information to solve strategic problems for clients.

Congratulations Karen! We are proud of your long track record of using your gifts to serve the community.

Updated 8.31.2012

Speech Communication Students Study Abroad in Paris, France

Experiencing new cultures is vital to a person’s growth. This is why the Department of Speech Communication creates peak learning experiences for undergraduate and graduate students with faculty-led study abroad programs. Since 2010, students have traveled across the globe to France, India, and Costa Rica. In May 2012, 10 speech communication students studied abroad in Paris, France for one week to research lived experience and fundamentally understand the nature of being human.


Led by Dr. Mirivel, the course first took place on campus during five 2-hour sessions to introduce core theoretical and philosophical principles and prepare students for the experience. Then, the group traveled together, held class every morning at the local cafés to discuss content and reflect on what they saw, and visited key sites such as the Eiffel tower, Le Louvre, and Notre Dame. This year, the students attended Roland Garros, an international tennis tournament that brings the city of Paris to life every May. Upon return, the students delivered public presentations that fused their experiences abroad with course material. Studying abroad in a faculty-led program is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that enables students to learn and grow. These programs reflect the department’s commitment to foster lifelong learning, the ability to communicate well, and global citizenship.

Updated 8.31.2012

Alumni at Work-Updates Fall 2012

Elizabeth Philpott (MA Class 2009) was recently hired as “Volunteer Services Coordinator” for the for “Keep Arkansas Beautiful.” In this role she will use her interpersonal and presentational skills to engage volunteers from all sectors of the community in state wide environmental initiatives.

Alex Long (BA 2011) is now with Jason International as “District Sales Manager” for Arkansas and Louisana. He writes that “If it wasn’t for the Department of Speech Communication, I would never be in this position.” We are proud of the use you are making of your degree!

Sandie Lubin, (MA Class 1994) is the “Project Administrator” for the Hartford Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence at the UAMS College of Nursing. We are proud of her years of service in the community.

Updated 8.31.2012

Alumni Updates

Ashley Boccaarossa(MA-Class of 2007) is the EOC Operations Manager & Staff Duty Officer Coordinator
for the Arkansas Department of Health “Preparedness & Emergency Response Branch.”

Melissa Crawford (MA Class 1990) is now the Director of Learning Communities and the Associate Director of the Center for Learning and Student Success at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida.

Alex Long(BA- 2011)works as a Regional Sales Manager for Jason International in North Little Rock. He was promoted earlier this year and now works across an 8 state area. Alex states that “if it wasn’t for the Department of Speech Communication, I would never be in this position.”

Dr. Yolanda Mitchell ( MA Class 2001) completed her Ed.D. in Higher Education Administration at U.A.L.R. Her dissertation title: “Factors Associated with Instructor-Student Interaction and Community College Students’ Intent to Persist.”

J.J. Pitman( MA Class 2000) , UA 4-H Center director, presented a program this May on “Engaged Learners” for the Arkansas Chapter of the American Society of Training and Development.

Tonya Oaks Smith’s (MA Class 2008) project, “A Little Birdie Told Me: H1N1 Information and Misinformation Exchange on Twitter”, was recently listed on SSRN’s Top Ten download list for CSN: Communication, CSN: Rhetoric & Semiotics and CSN: Rhetoric. She also presented at three conferences in 2011 and two addidtional ones in 2012. Tonya received recognition at Spring Celebration for her efforts to export her work beyond the department.

Dr. Elizabeth Stephens (MA Class 2000), Ph.D. Communication from the University of Memphis, is now an Assistant Professor at Middle Tennessee State University where she develops and teaches on line courses.

Updated 5.31.2012

Capstone 2012

Capstone 2012

This year we had a total of 12 undergraduate students successfully present their capstone papers. Dr. Thombre’s Capstone class took the students through the process of writing a case analysis paper in the Fall. Students then worked with a faculty mentor in the Spring before presenting their papers to other students, alumni, faculty, and community members.

Please join us in congratulating and celebrating the work of these students. Their topics reveal the breadth of applications these students are making to their lives.

Allen Brim - In your face: A Case study Guided by Face Negotiation Theory
Jo Carson- Tip toeing towards Friendship
DeAnn Gable - Perspective in the Parade of Life
Nicholas Hau-Rehearsal Reversal: A Study of Perceptions on Meanings
Mark Hulsey - Defeating myself
Ashley Kimbrough - It is always sunny in Sherwood: An analysis of a Friendship
Derrick Koon - Room 1004: Analysis of a Shared Transformation in the Context of a Cancer Diagnosis
Marlon Louzeiro - The Amazon River meets the Arkansas River: Analysis of our Friendship
Esma Stewart - Take the Highway or Do it My Way
David Yanke - You Were 21 Eleven Years Ago

Updated 5.22.2012

Department Fosters Students’ Intercultural Growth


In December 2011, Dr. Julien C. Mirivel and Mrs. Karen Frost led a group of 15 FYE students to experience Costa Rica and its culture. The grant, offered in collaboration with the Office of International Services and the Office of Academic Advising, funded 15 freshmen to travel abroad and encourage long-term academic success. The students visited several areas of Costa Rica, including San Jose, Tortuguero National Park, La Fortuna, and the beaches of the Pacific Ocean. During 9 days, students and faculty experienced the depth of the rain forest, visited a local school, kayaked on the edge of an active volcano, and zip-lined amidst monkeys and across rivers. At night, Dr. Mirivel held class to focus students on how to be successful in college, communicate well, and lead a meaningful life. This project is thus the Department’s latest contribution in helping UALR students become intercultural citizens. Since 2010, the Department has helped 36 students travel abroad. In the next program, students will visit Paris, France in May 2012.


Updated 1.27.2012

Dr. Mirivel Receives Teaching Award


Dr. Julien Mirivel was recently recognized for receiving the College of Professional Studies Teaching Excellence Award.

At the college wide brunch, Dr. Tim Edwards, a Professor in the Department of Mass Communication and last years recipient, captured some of the reasons for Dr. Mirivel’s recognition.

When reviewing the nomination packet of Dr. Julien Mirivel, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Speech Communication, several expressions or characteristics were used that summarize who he is as a teacher and why he was nominated for and received the Faculty Excellence Award for the College of Professional Studies.

Whether it was a student or colleague, words such as inspiring or inspirational, encouraging, open, relaxed and easy going would be used to describe his classroom atmosphere and personal demeanor.

Comments from his letters of support included:

• He gave us some information that will enhance our lives on this educational journey and for the rest of our lives.
• He taught concepts that I can apply and utilize within my personal and professional life….
• Students were encouraged to speak freely on a broad range of topics. It was a safe environment to express thoughts and opinions without judgment.
• I have never been in a class that allowed me to grow so much personally. I will take away lifelong lessons.
• Dr. Mirivel provided an educational experience that was unique, enriching, and inspiring.

A 6-year member of the UALR faculty, Dr.Mirivel has been described as an outstanding teacher and his teaching evaluations reflect that. His evaluations average 1.4 or better across questions, sections, graduate, and undergraduate courses.

He shares a piece of himself with every class as he provides perspectives from his own life to help students better understand the learning approaches, norms and benchmarks.

As a teacher-scholar, seven of his research studies have been published in peer-reviewed journals such as Communication Monographs and Health Communication. In addition, he has published 2 book chapters. For this work, he has been recognized with awards from the National Communication Association and received high praise from leading scholars in the field. One scholar characterizes Dr. Mirivel as a solid communication researcher whose publications and papers have contributed successfully and significantly to the communication research literatures. Another suggests Dr. Mirivel has the record of someone with a bright future as a leader in the communication discipline.

We are proud of Dr. Mirivel and this well deserved recognition!

Updated 5.24.2012
Next Page »