Why I Major in Communication Studies
Mercy Bertero '21 talks about amazing classmates, supportive professors, and why communication matters.
What made you want to become a communication studies major?
As I came into USF, I was really interested in intercultural communication studies in particular, which is why I applied to this major. I’m from Berkeley so I’ve been surrounded by multiculturalism my entire life. Studying how we can communicate with people from other communities, cultures, religious affiliations, etc. has always been something of interest and importance to me. I felt like this major would equip me with tools to go into any field I wanted after graduation, but it quickly became much more than that. I believe that having a better understanding of the world begins with understanding how and why humans interact the way they do. I knew this major would provide that for me and grant me the crucial awareness I need to navigate the world.
What has your experience been like within the department?
I don’t think I could’ve asked for a better college experience being a communication studies (COMS) major at USF. I came to this school as a transfer student in my junior year. It was initially a challenge to settle into my spot here in COMS, especially seeing how practically all of the students in my classes already knew each other. But that wasn’t an issue for long. Not only are COMS students some of the most amazing, kind, supportive, and welcoming people I think I’ve ever met, but the professors here are incredible as well. Because I am in a smaller department, I have been able to cultivate what I know will be lasting relationships with my professors. In student surveys, one of the questions we get quite often is “do you think your professors care about you as a person?”; I can honestly say that I believe they do and that’s made my experience in the department all the more better and more memorable. I’ve been given amazing opportunities because of my place within the department and I am so grateful that my time has been as positive as it’s been here.
What was your favorite class you took and why?
Picking just one class as my favorite is a serious challenge because there’s been so many great classes that I’ve taken. I’ll say that my favorite was Environmental Communication (COMS 344) with Professor DeLaure. In the class, we were asked to choose one particular field of study to “become experts in”. That is, all of our projects, research, books that we read, would be in an environmental topic that interested us. I chose Indigenous movements in the Americas and how environmentalism was interwoven with every facet of Indigenous experiences. Doing research in this topic was very eye-opening and enabled me to see things in a new light and from new perspectives. Having the freedom and ability to study what I wanted to study in this class and share my insights with other students connected me to my own Indigenous identity, something I felt I had been disconnected from for so many years. Because of this class, I am more immersed in cultural studies (and specifically Indigenous cultural studies) and plan to continue these studies post-graduation.
What advice would you give undeclared majors who are thinking about studying COMS?
If you want to learn more about yourself and what makes humans so wonderfully unique and complex, this major is for you. There are so many elements of COMS that you can pursue and find your own niche within. Taking the foundational courses will give you a better idea of how diverse the major is and what it offers its students. Doing your research about the major is always important, but I guarantee if you simply read some of the course descriptions, you’ll be intrigued! You will have an experience like no other in COMS and you’ll meet some awesome people along that way who will make your time here worthwhile.