Our Students

Our students share advice and their experiences in the Communication Studies program.

photo of Leah in front of flowersLeah Clatterbuck '21


What made you want to become a Communication Studies major?
I’ve always been interested in the social dynamics between people, how we communicate, and what that says about us as people. I loved the COMS program because of the range of options we had and how versatile our degree is. I always knew I wanted to be a Communication Studies major and I couldn’t have made a better choice!

What has your experience been like within the department?
I would have never met some of my closest and best friends if it wasn’t for the communication and everyday life class! Along with all the incredible people I’ve met through the major, the faculty is also (in my totally unbiased opinion) the best in the university. From the COMS Carnival to COMS Trivia Night, the department hosts such fun events that really involve students and brings us all closer together.

What was your favorite class you took and why?
Tough question, but one of my favorite classes has to be the Dark Side of Interpersonal Family Communication, taught by Professor Thorson. The content of the class was just so interesting and not often talked about. The class was just very insightful and Professor Thorson is such a caring and helpful professor. I feel like I learned a lot from that class and it was overall a great experience.

What advice would you give undeclared majors who are thinking about studying COMS?
Reach out to the professors! The COMS Department is so friendly and helpful. If you have any questions or are struggling with anything, feel free to reach out to any of the professors. They’re all so understanding and eager to help. Also, just do the readings!

photo of Brady in the cityBrady Lauer '21

What made you want to become a Communication Studies major?
I always knew that I wanted to major in Communication Studies because I had dreams of becoming a journalist once I graduated from USF. I spoke with many COMS majors as my freshman year kept on progressing and heard nothing but rave reviews and comments about the department, professors, courses, and other students. Once I officially declared myself as a COMS major, a sense of excitement came over me and I have never regretted that decision.

What has your experience been like within the department?
I have been extremely lucky because my experience within the COMS Department has been the greatest thing that I could have ever asked for and the best decision I think I have made while attending USF. I always say that the COMS Department is the best department at USF, and it really is true. We have the most supportive professors at USF, the students are extremely kind and some of the most intelligent people I have ever met.

What was your favorite class you took and why?
It is extremely challenging picking just one class because I can honestly say that every COMS course I have taken has been so rewarding in many different ways. But, I will say that my favorite course has to be Nonverbal Communication (COMS 350) with Professor Doohan that I took Fall 2020. In this class, we focused on the role that nonverbal communication plays in our daily lives and everyday interactions with people we know or strangers we encounter. Since it was taken via Zoom, Professor Doohan had to update our curriculum significantly to accommodate to the pandemic restrictions that were set by California. It felt like we were in an actual classroom setting rather than on Zoom getting brief glimpses of each other’s surroundings. I am forever grateful to all of those students and Professor Doohan because I have memories that I will never forget.

What advice would you give undeclared majors who are thinking about studying COMS?
If you are still unsure of what path you are wanting to take for your major, do some extensive research on the COMS Department, email one of the professors, and ask them questions about the major itself. Do some research on the courses that are offered before making a final decision, and if you need some extra guidance refer to your CASA advisor. It is important to do some extensive research into a major before making any final decisions, but I and all of the students and professors in the department can promise you that choosing COMS will be one of the best decisions you make at USF.

headshot of Katrina TranKarina Tran '21

What made you want to become a Communication Studies major?
I was actually admitted to USF as a marketing major, and the summer before my first year I was looking into the types of classes I needed to take. I looked into communication studies because I found that similar career paths alongside marketing included communication. When I saw classes like Asian American Culture & Communication, the Dark Side of Communication, the Rhetoric of Sex, Gender, & Sexuality, etc.--I was baffled! I had no idea such topics could be discussed in an entire class, and suddenly I felt that excitement I was looking for, the passion for learning I craved. Moreover, as someone who is constantly changing her mind on what she wants to do, I knew I wanted to study something that is transferable not only to other jobs but also to life--communication does exactly that. Besides, if you know how to effectively communicate with people, you could really do anything.

What has your experience been like within the department?
It is hard for me to imagine a greater department to be a part of. The peers that I've gotten to interact with in my classes are so incredibly kind, thoughtful, and passionate about the relationships we develop--it's a dream come true! Don't even get me started on the professors--they have been so encouraging, considerate, and have really gone above and beyond for me in ways I can never truly articulate my gratitude. The passion that each professor and faculty member displays for the topics they discuss and teach are apparent, and my respect for each and every person in the department (that I have met) run deep.

What was your favorite class you took and why?
I have two that I always bring up: Communication & Everyday Life and Asian American Culture & Communication Everyday Life were my first COMS classes I ever took, and I cannot believe how excited I was to read a textbook. I thought I would hate the reading, but every single time, I learned something that felt like a major breakthrough in my life--every single time! As someone who comes from a family where communication is definitely not a priority, that class really opened up so many doors to exploring who I want to be now that I've moved away from home. Asian American COM was another major turning point in my developing identity; we talked about things that I had never even thought would be important enough to discuss, and it was about the very things that make up my foundation of a person.

What advice would you give undeclared majors who are thinking about studying COMS?
Whatever you end up choosing, you're going to make the best of it, so don't sweat it too much. Communication Studies is a great major to explore simply because of how much it adds value to your knowledge of being a human in this society. Whatever ends up being printed on your degree isn't as important as the endless knowledge you'll acquire by taking a couple classes.