Emeritus Status Conferred for Dr. Marcella LaFever at 2024 Recognition Dinner

The UFV School of Communication was proud to put forward the name of retired member Dr. Marcella LaFever for being awarded Emeritus Status in recognition of her dedicated service to the department. She was in the company of some amazing people at the Recognition Dinner on May 14th.

Marcella remains, as always, dedicated to intellectual engagement with the communications discipline, and supportive to the progress of the School. She expressed recently, her gratitude for continued work on research within the discipline. She laughs and says ” three people asked me if I was going to write an autobiography, so I thought I had better at least think about it.”

In addition to being able to offer her expertise in the areas of intercultural communication, small group process, and public dialogue, Dr. LaFever also works to support the active realization of the concepts of “belonging, inclusion, diversity and equity” such as in projects related to Indigenization and reconciliation.

During the last year and a half, since retirement as full-time faculty at UFV, and as an Adjunct Professor for the School, Marcella led several research projects, and consulted with organizations, that are examples of the work mentioned above. These included:

  • Halq’eméylem Language Teaching in Stó:lō Téméxw (Jan. 2024); Completed to support the work of Teacher Education, UFV;
  • Building Relationships with First Nations (Oct. 2023): Panel presentation for Woodlots BC AGM
  • Engaging with First Nations to Develop Meaningful Relationships workshop (Feb. 2023); for Golden Community Forest Initiative
  • Backgrounder on BC K-12 School Districts’ Indigenous Language Teaching (Dec. 2022): Completed for the Office of Indigenous Affairs; UFV

Our hearty congratulations and best wishes – but don’t work your retirement away!!!

photos courtesy of UFV Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ufv/albums/72177720317028750/

Beyond Boundaries: The Inspiring Journey of a Student Athlete at UFV

Lucy Park and Cody Stewart

By Matthew Michaud

From Gyeongju, South Korea, to the University of the Fraser Valley, a young woman’s journey exemplifies the essence of determination and adaptability. As a Communications major and a standout on the UFV women’s golf team, her story is a compelling narrative of balancing academic rigor with athletic excellence. Leading the UFV Hub Club, she has significantly contributed to enriching campus life, showcasing her leadership skills and community spirit. This piece delves into her journey, highlighting the challenges, achievements, and invaluable lessons learned along the way.

Tell us a little about yourself

I am a fourth-year student at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) currently pursuing a major in Communications with a minor in Visual Arts. Throughout my time here, I’ve been actively involved in various programs and activities that have enriched my university experience.

I was born in South Korea, in a small city called Gyeongju. At the age of 11, I moved to Canada with my older sister to pursue educational opportunities abroad. Initially, we stayed with different host families in Abbotsford until my sister graduated and moved to Vancouver to pursue her academics at the University of British Columbia. Through middle school and high school, my sister and I moved around a lot, transitioning from one host family to another until I began university. During my first year of UFV, I moved into dormitories, and currently, I rent a small place for myself. Living away from my parents at a young age was a challenge, yet it also taught me invaluable lessons. I learned to take on responsibilities earlier than many of my peers and to seek help when necessary. Throughout the transition to a new life in Canada, my sister served as both my biggest support and my best friend.

How did you get involved with the UFV Golf Team?

My passion for golf began during grade 10 of high school, and from that moment onward, it became a huge part of my life. I started as a hobby to enjoy with my sister since our dad plays golf. As I picked up this sport, I saw myself enjoying it more than just a hobby. Despite being relatively new to the game, my coach recognized my enthusiasm and encouraged me to enter tournaments after just three months of playing. This was not because I am super talented but because he saw my genuine enjoyment of the sport. From there, my golf career has begun. I came to the point of being recruited to play for the UFV golf team, where I now proudly represent as a varsity athlete.

One of the most significant experiences during my time at UFV has been my involvement with the UFV women’s golf team. I was recruited during my high school years, and now, in my fourth year with the team, I cherish numerous great memories. Not only have I improved my golf skills by working with exceptional professionals and coaches, but I have also created lasting friendships with my teammates. We have competed in various leagues, including the Canada West league, NCAA tournaments, junior college leagues, and numerous invitationals, as well as the Golf Canada Nationals.

I had great success in my first year, receiving nominations for both athlete of the year and rookie of the year at UFV. Additionally, our team secured a silver medal finish at Nationals, with me achieving a 9th place individual finish and leading the team to 2nd place overall. I’ll always remember the moment when I completed my round with a strong finish, securing our team’s second-place position, three strokes ahead of the third-place team. It stands out as the highlight of my golf career thus far, being part of the team that won the silver medal in the Golf Canada National Championship.

Furthermore, I celebrated my first college win last season at Indian Summers in Olympia, Washington, alongside a team victory. These achievements hold a special place in my heart and represent significant milestones in my journey as a golfer. I can’t wait for the rest of the season and am especially looking forward to competing in the upcoming Golf Canada National Championship in June 2024.

Looking ahead, I aspire to continue my golf journey beyond my education, pursuing dreams of becoming a golf professional. Golf isn’t just a game to me. It ignites my true self and fuels my passion like nothing else.

You are also very active with the social scene at UFV. Can you tell us some more?

In addition to my life as a student athlete, I have dedicated my time to enhancing student engagement on campus as the president of the UFV Hub Club for the past two years. The UFV Hub Club is an official social club focused on fostering student engagement and facilitating connections among students. Through this role, I have organized a diverse array of events such as skating, bowling, movie nights, game nights, lake days and more. These events have provided students with invaluable opportunities to socialize, relax, and connect with their peers beyond the academic sphere. In my capacity as president, I have not only found friends and mentors but also developed my communication and leadership skills.

Overall, my time at UFV has been marked by valuable opportunities for personal growth, as well as lasting friendships. Through my involvement with the women’s golf team and the UFV Hub Club, I have not only developed as an individual but also played a role in enriching the dynamic student experience at UFV.

How the life of a student athlete?

While I’m deeply committed to pursuing my athletic goals, I equally prioritize my academic journey as a full-time student athlete. Balancing these two facets of my life has proven to be a significant challenge. I found time management to be very crucial, especially considering the extensive travel involved in competing in golf tournaments as a team.

Each tournament trip is a 4–5-day travel commitment, leading to the unfortunate necessity of missing lectures. Many of us in the team often work on assignments during our travels or in spare moments during trips. Our tournament destinations have spanned across various locations, including Washington, Las Vegas, California, Quebec, and more.

The peak golf season, spanning from March through May for the spring season and September through November for the fall season, sees us participating in approximately 8-10 events annually. Despite the academic demands, every tournament experience has been incredible. We get to play different golf courses around North America, engage in team activities and compete against great players from various schools. I think that missing lectures and having to work on schoolwork in planes, ferries, cars, and hotels is worth the experience. Additionally, professors at UFV are very understanding for student athletes which helped me navigate this challenge.

What were the biggest challenges of undertaking CMNS 235 – Public Speaking class?

I had been hoping to enroll in CMNS 235 since my second year, but finding a class schedule that didn’t conflict with my golf commitments was a minor challenge. The course required regular attendance for in-person lectures and active participation, and I didn’t want to miss out on valuable class interactions and opportunities to engage in coursework.

Last semester, I was fortunate to finally find a class that aligned with my golf team schedule, and it turned out to be one of the most beneficial courses I’ve taken at UFV. CMNS 235 pushed me out of my comfort zone, particularly with presentations. For me, one of the toughest aspects of the coursework was improvisation, a skill that didn’t come naturally to me. While I typically felt well-prepared for presentations that allowed preparing time for planning and practice, improvisation posed a unique challenge. Without the safety net of prior preparation, I grappled with the pressure to think on my feet and deliver rushed speeches.

Additionally, unlike previous presentations where I relied heavily on written content in PowerPoint slides or notes, CMNS 235 required me to invest significantly more time in speech preparation. Rather than reading from a script, I had to craft and memorize my speeches thoroughly. This meant dedicating extra time to ensure I was ready to speak confidently in every class session, where participation was expected regularly.

What did you get out of CMNS 235?

Participating in CMNS 235, a public speaking class, has been instrumental in improving my communication abilities and overcoming my fear of public speaking. Through this experience, I’ve not only developed a greater sense of confidence in communicating in front of audiences but also developed invaluable skills in speech preparation and presentation. One of the most significant benefits I learnt from this class was overcoming the anxiety of speaking in front of many people. By consistently engaging in speech delivery and getting immediate feedback, I gradually learned to manage my nerves and communicate with greater ease.

Moreover, the course taught me practical strategies for speech preparation, allowing me to approach presentations with clarity and organization. From structuring speeches to creating effective PowerPoint slides, I gained insights into effective communication techniques that I was able to use outside of this class. I learnt how to confidently prepare and deliver speeches. As my goal is to become a golf professional, I will be in a lot of situations where I have to speak in public such as in interviews, teaching, giving lessons and more.

I am continuing to develop my public speaking abilities. I am grateful for the personal and professional growth I was able to have through taking CMNS 235. I can proudly say that I have enhanced my confidence and proficiency in communication.

What are your general opinions from being a CMNS Major at UFV?

Firstly, my enjoyment of every Communication class I’ve taken at UFV played a big role in making my decision to pursue this major. Beyond the enjoyment of these classes, I’ve come to recognize the relevance of communication to both my personal life and future career aspirations. Among the courses offered within the Communication program, standouts for me include CMNS 235 (Public Speaking), CMNS 316 (Communicating for Social Media), and CMNS 375 (Print and Digital Design).

The Communication major surprised me with its variety of course offerings. Initially, I expected a focus on reading and writing, but I discovered a diverse array of courses spanning various aspects of communication. Currently enrolled in CMNS 316, I’m learning about how to communicate effectively for social media platforms but also took CMNS 375 where I learnt about print and digital design.

Overall, my experience as a Communication major has been overwhelmingly positive, reaffirming my belief in the transformative power of effective communication. The wealth of knowledge and skills gained from these classes has been exceptional, emphasizing the importance of communication in various contexts.

For anyone deciding on switching to Communication major at UFV, I would encourage them not to hesitate. Not only are the classes enjoyable and engaging, but they also impart invaluable insights and practical skills. Moreover, the broad opportunities of job within the field of communication offers a various exciting career paths to explore.

Thank you and all the best with your studies and future!

Culture, memes and intercultural competency

It is likely that if you are reading this blog post, you already know what a “meme” is; but do you know about “culture-jamming?”; and what does that have to do with memes? Long before memes became a staple of internet browsing, anything that disrupted the mundane nature of everyday life and the status quo with surprising, often comical or satirical acts or artworks fit the description in the 1980s.  Scholar Henry Jenkins notes, “culture jamming has now broadened its scope beyond parody ads and altered billboards. Culture jamming tactics are being used not only to contest consumer culture, but also to intervene in politics and social movements.”

Fast forward a decade or two and culture jamming is thought of almost exclusively as political statements about consumerism being portrayed through memes. According to  Kalle Lasn, one of the founders of Adbusters, the best culture jam is one that introduces a meta-meme, a two-level message that punctures a specific commercial image, but does so in a way that challenges some larger aspect of the political culture of corporate domination. There are however some like some researchers like Fink and DeLaure who harken back to the basic meaning of “meme” as” an image, word, or idea that is easily altered and repurposed and spread. They note that, yes, memes can achieve high levels of visibility and rapid, widespread reach … but as for their potential to disrupt or subvert, that depends on the specific content and context.

One aspect of context that needs further exploration is the ability (or not) of memes to reach outside of narrow cultural contexts. Perhaps we do not live in a completely globalized world.  This summer, student in my Introduction to Intercultural Communication (CMNS 180) course took on this question.

A submission by student Emili Kaplin takes on the topic living in the Fraser Valley, its agricultural focus and localized climates. She says of the “local june produce season” meme, the “People that live in climates that are always hot or always cold can not relate to local June produce season. Certain areas of the world can also not relate to the winter depression that one feels in a very rainy climate, when you don’t get much sun and therefore vitamin D. Also, it’s originally derived from the ‘are ya winning, son‘ meme, which adds a funny layer to it” and that’s a whole other story that you might have to look up 🙂 Maybe that one is more global – what do you think?


On the other hand, Tom Wilson says of the cooking “starter pack” meme, that people of cultures around the world can totally get it. He states “I’ve often walked into kitchens and said this exact thing, dreaming of some elaborate, potential meal, only to realize that the cook is simply browning onions and garlic. It has also become something of an inside joke between my friends and I. So I hope you all enjoy! This meme might be hard to interpret for people unfamiliar with the “starter pack” meme format, which attempts to boil down the essence of a particular subculture, celebrity, or individual into a series of related images. It would also be difficult to parse for anyone who isn’t familiar with garlic or onions or has never had this experience. (An aside: is there any cusine that doesn’t use onions or garlic?). Of course, the fact that it’s in English might also be a barrier to understanding the meaning of the meme.”

“I have used this meme because I feel like this meme applies everywhere around the world”, submits student Sandy Sidhu. He goes on to explain, “This meme represents how even though everyone tells you to love your skin tone. But still there are some ads that tell us white skin is superior; that every country has been under the influence” and goes on to explain that even his home country India give more importance to white skin superiority and there are so many companies which give promises to get a fair white skin in a short time period. “This is a issue which could hurt someone mentally and make them uncomfortable with their own skin.”

The Covid pandemic is certainly of global concern and Jimmy Brar says this meme that plays on the toilet paper hoarding phenomenon expresses more about our attitude towards life than about the actual pandemic. He says “you can have all the money in the world but you won’t be as happy as those who make just enough to enjoy life. Having too much money just messes with your mind and makes you think you are happy but in reality, you’re the sad one because if you get cocky all your relatives start to avoid you and leave you out of the group.” This is probably something that people globally can identify with even if toilet paper hoarding might not have been.

It is no surprise that one of these hard working students took on the topic of education with a meme about the struggle of studying vs. thinking about your future. [Sarah] notes that she chose the meme for this very reason – “because it relates to most if not all students around the world including myself. I feel like I am spending most of my time thinking about both short and long term future instead of focusing on the moment 🙂 especially at this time of the semester when it is about to end. It relates to how we overthink rather than work hard to earn good marks which might lead to bad consequences. Don’t do it :)” While the image may not represent everyone’s reality of studying, she feels the inner feelings are global and crosses over lines of culture.

Our final example for this blog was submitted by Jenna Duffin on the topic of “glamorizing” and is a good companion to the one above about studying. Her submission features an illustration of characters just hanging out and enjoying life with the full caption being: “Stop glamorizing the grind and start glamorizing whatever this is.” She says the meme is ultimately about “rejecting the hard work associated with “the grind” and taking pleasure in the simple things, like relaxation.”

She does think that, “The meme uses messaging that could confuse individuals who are not in-tune with North American online culture. The meme refers to “the grind”, a phrase that has become synonymous with working hard to get something that you want, particularly at your job or place of work. Someone who does not know what “the grind” is will probably not understand the meme without an explanation.” She goes on to explain that, “My friends and I are all in university or have recently joined the workforce. We all find ourselves pretty burnt out and overworked at times and this meme really resonates with us. It relates to how we would like to be living our lives (relaxing & being together in nature) but cannot, due to the expectations of society.

We don’t have any hard and fast answers on the question of whether memes can generally be interpreted across cultures but I think they certainly give us great insight into what is on the minds of our UFV students.

Further reading:

Fink, M. and DeLaure, M. (2017). Culture Jamming: Activism and the Art of Cultural Resistance (Eds.). NYU Press.

Microlecture time: CMNS represented by two faculty researchers

Microlecture promotional poster 2022

A big Thank You to Dr. Sumin Fang and Dr, Marcella LaFever for their recent participation in the annual two-minute microlecture challenge organized by the UFV Office of Research, Engagement and Graduate Studies.

Are you a user of fitness apps? Have you finally found one that meets your needs? Check out this two-minute video to learn about your “relationship” with your app 🙂

Thank you to Dr. Sumin Fang for telling us about her recently published research on User Experience (UX) of mobile fitness technology. Her article applies a public relations theory to examining humanlike relationships between users and their fitness apps. She argues that scholarship on how to establish and maintain good quality relationships with publics applys equally to users relationships with technology. Sumin’s work provides empirical evidence that human-like relationships exist along with what the relationship outcomes are. There is also a predictability element as to which users are likely to become long-term adopters of particular fitness apps. Finally, this project explores what particular technology features facilitate the sense of companionship for users.

On  a slightly different note, Dr. LaFever told us about her ongoing project related to diversity and inclusion in public dialogue and decision-making. With the help of her student Research Assistant Caitlin Garfias-Chan they collected data from municipality websites throughout British Columbia looking at the existence, the visual promonance, and the methods of engagement used in public engagement portals. You can read more about the project in a previous blog post but now, you have here a short audio explanation that highlights where the project needs to go next.

To check out more of the 2022 microlecture series you can find all the participant videos here.

Where there’s a WIL there’s a way

New graduates from university are often frustrated when they start looking for a job in their field because employers prefer applicants with relevant work experience.

cycle of experience and job needs
Source: LinkedIn

“How can I get relevant work experience in my field when every job posting wants me to already have work experience?”

One way to solve this common problem is through WIL – or Work-Integrated Learning. WIL takes a variety of forms. At the simplest level it can be a class assignment or project aimed at solving a real-world problem, sometimes with direct input and participation from the affected business or organization.

For example, this semester in CMNS 312: Public Relations Campaigns, Dr. Mai Anh Doan’s students are creating a public relations (PR) plan for an overseas client – the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam – to help increase awareness about business opportunities in Vietnam among Canadian business owners in the Lower Mainland. Some students will have the opportunity to implement this plan as a practicum project next year, part of the ongoing collaboration between the Communications Department and UFV’s Center for Experiential and Career Education.

At UFV students can apply for internships and co-op positions that place them within businesses, non-profits or government agencies where they can gain direct and relevant work experience while advancing their academic goals. The Center for Experiential and Career Education at UFV matches students with potential employers for co-op terms.

Work-study opportunities can be integrated with full-time studies at UFV. You’re committing to 120 hours of paid work in a professional environment over a single academic term. It’s a great way to make connections in your chosen field, gain experience to enhance a resume, and make some money at the same time.

Finally, many degree programs at UFV include a significant capstone course that involves community partners. Students apply what they’ve learned in their academic studies to solve problems or propose solutions to real-world situations.

Getting a degree is a huge step towards obtaining a career you’ll love. But earning some work experience along the way can make the process of finding a job after graduation much, much easier. WIL supplies you with tangible experience that employers can easily understand.

Interested? Talk to your program advisors at UFV to find out the specific WIL options in your area of study.

Public deliberation in B.C.: An audit of municipal website gateways

Guest blog and research by Caitlin Garfias-Chan 

Supervised by Marcella LaFever, Associate Professor CMNS 

Ever wish you could change something where you live but feel like nobody would listen anyway? Deliberative democratic theory has caught the attention of many public officials interested in improving their communities and the last 15 years in British Columbia has seen growth in municipalities creating processes for public participation and deliberation for community planning. Often, the entry point for participation in such initiatives is through municipal online portals. The two questions for this current research project were to investigate: 1) extent; and 2) ease of access for participation processes throughout British Columbia. 

Research by Knobloch, Gastil, Reedy, and Walsh (2013) define success in participatory processes as including analytic rigor (ensuring that decisions are based in facts and weighing all options; democratic discussion (ensuring that participants and process are relevant for the full diversity of the population); and well-reasoned decision (processing information from the, often conflicting, values and viewpoints of all affected parties). They also created a framework that defined and operationalizing six components: the context of the event, project design and setup, structural design, the discussion itself, experiences of the participants, and the output or product created.  

Online participatory processes being used as a part of the effort to increase the ways that residents can be part of democratic decision-making impacts especially on two of the measurable components of the framework outlines above, the context of the participatory event and in project design related to diversity of participants and the inclusion pf processes for intercultural communication (LaFever, 2009). We decided to start by quantifying the number of municipalities across British Columbia, whether they used online portals to invite public participation and how easy those links were to find. 


The first step in determining our sample was to define how many municipalities would be included in our analysis. After finding a list of B.C. municipalities we decided to include cities, towns, districts and district municipalities with a population of 10,000 or more (as per the 2016 census). The list included 91 entities for analysis. We note here also that the list did not include First Nation communities. 

Next was finding the data necessary and creating the criteria based on analysis. Using a spreadsheet, links to websites were used; both home pages and any engagement sites had dedicated spaces. At the same time, screenshots were used to emphasize further and provide proof of any possible engagement. The criteria are based on the opportunities given and how easy it is to find those same opportunities. It was noted that while some have an abundance of engagement projects, it was sometimes difficult to find them due to the website layout.  


Data shows that out of 91 municipalities, 35 have ongoing/active public engagement opportunities noted in their online presence (surveys, meeting the mayor events, engagement websites). These included municipality sizes from as large as Vancouver at a population of 631,486; to medium sized such as both Abbotsford and Chilliwack; to the smaller sized Mission at 38, 833 and places like Fernie and Creston with just over 5,000 population. Out of the 35 municipalities, 21 had their engagement tabs accessible in obvious ways at the top of the page and with wording that was directed at residents. And with very few clicks to get to a link that noted online public engagement opportunities. 14 had engagement sites that required a search through several “community” tabs or at the bottom of their homepage in small print. 

On the other hand, the majority, 50 municipalities, have no public engagement opportunities listed or only in ways not related to this research (i.e. speaking at council meeting). The additional six municipalities had some engagement in the past but had been inactive for several years, and of these only three have an easy-to-find archive page of those initiatives.   

Of 91 BC municipalities, only 38% are actively promoting projects and thus promoting public engagement within their communities. And only 60% of those municipalities are easily accessible through their website. 


As a first step this analysis was essential to a larger project to look at whether online portals are effective in increasing overall public participation in deliberation related to community planning. However, there are many gaps that can only be answered through a more in-depth look at specific projects across a spectrum of these communities. There are both smaller and larger communities that have online portals which will be an aspect to investigate in the next stage of the research, asking if there are significant differences in the various measurable components. The biggest issue may be determining whether the resultant deliberation events ensure that both participants and process are relevant for the full diversity of the population.  

References and additional resources 

Knobloch,K. R., Gastil, J., Reedy, J. and Walsh, K. C. (2013) Did they deliberate: Applying an evaluative model of democratic deliberation to the Oregon Citizens’Initiative Review. In Journal of Applied Communication Research 41(2).105-125 

LaFever, M. (2009).  9P Planning. Overcoming Roadblocks to Collaboration in Intercultural Community Contexts. Proceedings: International Workshop on Intercultural Collaboration (IWIC). International Conference; Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/247927917_9P_planning_Overcoming_roadblocks_to_collaboration_in_intercultural_community_contexts 

Please join us for the upcoming Scholarly Sharing Initiative events!

So proud to see Communications scholars as presenters in the coming months. Also as collaborators and organizers on this event and with scholars from from across the College of Arts.

FYI: For those interested in attending, see registration details at the bottom of this announcement.

The goals of SSI are to facilitate interdisciplinary sharing, discussion and support for the great research and scholarly work going on at UFV. For more information or to offer to share your work at future sessions, please contact any of the organizers.

Each event features presentations from two speakers on their current scholarly work, followed by an opportunity for questions from attendees.
Thursday, January 27th at 1:00pm

Dr. Robert Harding (School of Social Work): “Canadian News Discourse about the Petroleum Industry: Corporate Media Framing compared with Indigenous Media Framing”

Dr. Amy Tang (English): “Interwar British Fiction and the Aesthetics of Energy Infrastructure”

Wednesday, February 16th at 1pm

Dr. Ghizlane Laghzaoui (Modern Languages): “Students’ evaluation of teaching”

Heather McAlpine (English), Ron Sweeney (English), and Jessica Wind (Communications): “Riverdale: A Forthcoming Book with Pep!”

Wednesday, March 30th at 1pm

Kim Norman (Communications): “Sights on Sites: The Risks Associated with Mis/Disinformation Online and an Exploration of Pedagogical Strategies for Mitigating Them”

Dr. Dana Landry (Communications): “Colouring with Pencil: How I learned to write and teach”

Scholarly Sharing Initiative organizers (2022):
Rita Atake, Hannah Celinski, Melissa Walter, Alex Wetmore

Registration Link:

Email: alex.wetmore@ufv.ca for more information

Professor Emeritus Madeleine Hardin Reflects on the Evolution of the Communications Department at UFV

Guest Blog by Alison Evans

Madeleine Hardin has been an associate professor with UFV Communications since 1989. During her time at UFV she has seen the school evolve from a college, to a university college, to a full university, from two small buildings in Abbotsford and Chilliwack to the expanded campuses that exist today. Madeleine’s work in media and advocacy helped shape the growth of the UFV Communications Department from a supplemental department assisting other disciplines with their curriculum, into a department on the edge of providing a four-year degree program.

As part of developing the oral history of the Communications Department, Madeleine spoke about her experiences over 30 years with UFV Communications.

Thirty Years at UFV

Prior to working at UFV Madeleine completed her Master of Arts in Communication at SFU. She then worked in television broadcasting for ten years as a researcher/writer with CBC TV News. While an exciting and fun career, she started to look for other careers that would allow her to spend more time with her young family. She was offered a job at Kwantlen College and UFV at the same time. She chose UFV because she “liked the people better. It’s really that simple,” she says. At the time the Communications Department was a small group of committed people working to establish the department, who Madeleine says are still some of her closest friends. Some of the earliest department members included Ken Fernstrom, Cheryl Dahl, and Wendy Burton.

Once at UFV, Madeleine used her experience from the newsroom and advocacy work to help the Communications Department evolve from being focussed solely on first year writing classes to include classes about media and journalism. Her experience in using her writing skills in a variety of mediums in television and media provided UFV Communications with a valuable resource for helping to expand their course programming from technical writing skills to include classes about advocacy writing, fundraising, public relations, and crises communication. Her department head at the time, Cheryl Dahl, established the Media and Communications (MACS) courses and department. Madeleine taught in both departments as a cross appointment for many years.  Her experience in using her writing skills in a variety of mediums in television and media provided UFV Communications and MACS with a valuable resource.

Beyond the physical changes of an expanding campus as the school grew, she tells us the student population has changed as well. During Madeleine’s time with UFV, she has seen the school change from a “small friendly college”, with students mostly local to the Lower Mainland, to a bustling student population of over 15,000, including international students from all over the world. With all of these changes, the Communications Department has stayed current by constantly adapting to provide the students with relevant skills, something Madeleine promoted in the Communications Department during her time as Department Head.

Communications Department Development

Just as the physical campus and the student body experienced growth and change, so has the Communications Department. Madeleine tells us that her work overseas, especially in China and India, helped advance her knowledge about what other countries were doing with communications, and she brought that knowledge home to UFV. This acquired knowledge transferred directly into the development of courses focussed on Intercultural Communications, Public Speaking and Writing for Business classes being provided by the Communications Department.

Madeleine was also instrumental in the development of two courses focused on Public Relations, Comms 212 and 312. These innovative courses were then adopted at SFU through Madeleine’s connections to her alma mater, and eventually they formed the foundation of the Public Relations Certificate Program here at UFV.

While the Communications Department Head, Madeleine was instrumental in getting the department a minor and certificate programs. Previously, the department was fulfilling a service to other departments by providing courses the students would use to advance their work in other studies. Madeleine and her colleagues pushed for a minor program at a time when the school was transitioning from a college to a full university, which helped to advance the program even further. The department had to “start taking themselves more seriously” she says, as the department followed the trend of hiring instructors with doctorates as well as master’s degrees.

The Future of Communications at UFV

To Madeleine, communications is so much more than technical writing and public speaking. She believes that communication “touches everything.” She says, “There are no jobs without a communications component.” She explained that communication jobs that did not even exist in the past are now required and abundant in all types of workplaces. She noted that especially during and post-Covid, digital communication and Digital Communication Strategists are needed in every branch of government and business in order to communicate with people when they could not be face-to-face and when they need to reach a broad spectrum of stakeholders and the public.

Communicating digitally is both “dangerous and useful,” says Madeleine. She says more regulation for preventing the spread of false and misinformation is needed, but also there needs to be emphasis on teaching students ethical communication practices. While unethical communication is hard to prevent, Madeleine says, “You can train people to recognize misinformation,” and teach them critical thinking about the information being communicated over all media channels. As digital communication moves forward, she feels this is something the Communications Department will need to examine.

She believes the UFV Communications Department is in great hands to face these challenges, and to keep moving forwards as communication continues to develop. “The department has always been full of good people. People who really believed in what they were doing and why they were doing it; all were good writers, good communicators,” she says. “The department is in incredibly good hands, and I have been very proud watching them grow and change.

Madeleine continues to be involved with UFV Communications Department, and will be teaching CMNS 125: Professional Communications, this fall at UFV.

What’s all the buzz about? Lana Harach Wins Award for Research on B.C.’s Asian Giant Hornets

Lana Harach, an Agricultural Science student at UFV, is the Undergraduate Research Excellence (URE) Award winner for a journal article she wrote in CMNS 325: Writing for the Sciences and Technologies. Lana’s work explores the emergence of the invasive Vespa mandarinia species (Asian giant hornets) on the West Coast of British Columbia.

“I took CMNS 325 as I wanted to become more skilled at sharing the information I have learned,” says Lana. “My favourite part of the course was learning how to build scientific articles based on how people read and make connections between sentences within a paragraph.”

Below, Lana discusses her research article, “Mitigating Dangers of Vespa mandarinia (Asian Giant Hornet),” where she used secondary literature to underscore the threat this invasive species poses to the agricultural economy of the Fraser Valley.

Why did you choose to study Asian giant hornets? What did you learn in the process?

LH: My interest in Asian giant hornets started the year before I took CMNS 325 because one of the hornet nests found was close to my hometown. When brainstorming ideas for my focus in CMNS 325 I realized that the topic of Asian giant hornets overlaps with another one of my passions: ‘integrated pest management’. As pest management is a field that I am interested in pursuing as a career it seemed like a fun topic that I not only had an emotional connection to but one that could help me in a future career! Throughout the process of writing this paper I learned how important making short-term and long-term deadlines are, and how these can help me avoid procrastination. It also helped me see the value in coming back to a writing project with fresh eyes days later – teaching me that while having someone else read over your paper is valuable, there is a lot I can accomplish before that if I give myself the time to do so.

The topic of Asian giant hornets is a very popular one, with many articles published about it. It was interesting to wade through these and I feel gave me a better understanding of the whole picture. It taught me that it’s important to remain connected to the readers, to understand where their fears or misunderstandings are coming from so that I can better explain the science behind it.

Why should people in B.C. to be aware of the V. mandarinia? What steps can people take to protect themselves?

LH: It is critical for people in B.C. to be aware of Asian giant hornets because they would pose a high threat to our ecological systems if they became an established invasive pest. Asian giant hornets are ferocious predators in the insect world and their main target is bee populations. Our North American bee populations have not evolved defence mechanisms against Asian giant hornets, and because of this would be greatly impacted (and killed).

Another reason for people in B.C. to be aware of Asian giant hornets is to protect themselves. Protecting oneself starts as simply as observing your surroundings, especially when you are walking in forests (their preferred habitat). These hornets don’t tend to sting humans unless provoked so give them plenty of space and room. Asian giant hornets also get excited by bright colours like yellow and orange (the colour of their main prey), so wearing duller, more earthy colours would reduce the chance of catching their attention. If you do see an Asian giant hornet report it to the Invasive Species Council of BC (by phone, app or website).

Thanks for sharing your insights on the Asian giant hornets. Congratulations on winning the URE Award! What did you think about being nominated, and then winning the award?

LH: I was surprised and excited to be nominated. I tend to rely more on my speaking communication skills, so having my written communication skills acknowledged has opened some career doors for me in my mind. When I received the email telling me I had won the award I was so honoured! I think the most overwhelming moment for me was thinking about the number of individuals who decided that this paper not only worth their time to read through but to recognize officially as well is very humbling. 

Speaking of Success: Balneet Toor wins the Toastmasters’ Award

Let’s toast Balneet Toor, the recipient of the Rise and Shine Toastmasters’ Annual Achievement Award, for her outstanding work in CMNS 235: Public Speaking. Balneet recently graduated from UFV with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, as well as the Professional Communication Essentials certificate.

“I was very surprised and thankful when I found out about the nomination,” says Balneet. “It felt nice to know that my peers and professor enjoyed listening to my speeches and they have faith in my skills. Winning the award was the best feeling ever. I felt very proud of myself, and this was a fantastic way to end my last semester at UFV.”

Why did you take the class and what was your experience like?

BT: I took this class to challenge myself and to improve my public speaking skills. Another motivating factor was that I would qualify for a communications certificate since I had already completed the other two communications courses. It was a hard decision for me because I get very nervous while speaking in front of a large group. However, I am so glad that I pushed myself to take the course because it was a life changing experience for me. I was able to overcome my fear of public speaking and regain lost confidence. Samantha made this course enjoyable and valuable. It was a great decision to take this class.

What was your favourite part of the class? 

BT: My favorite part of the class was the impromptu speaking and having a theme for each class. This is something I looked forward to each week as the themes were very interesting and our class discussions were also very effective and valuable. I loved listening to my peers, hearing about their experiences and relating them to my life and also learning new things from them. This was a great way to get to know one another. It helped the class understand each other better and increase our comfort level.

What was it like taking a public speaking class on Zoom? 

BT: It was a very unique experience taking a public speaking class on Zoom. Honestly it went so much better than I had expected. Samantha made the course very easy to follow along and she encouraged us to use this opportunity to learn different techniques on how to present online. Since I am a business student, I feel this was a very valuable experience because I will be presenting online at some point in my career. Especially with the world changing due to the pandemic and most people working from home. I’m glad I was able to make progress with each speech and change the technique that I was using to present. For example, in my first speech I was sitting down and presenting. By the end of the course, I presented while standing in front of the camera.

Do you have any tips for future public speaking students? 

BT: Some tips that I have for future public speaking students is to take risks, chances and have faith in yourself. You are your biggest motivator. It’s important to brainstorm and practice your speech beforehand to ensure that your speech will be effective. Lastly, don’t forget to have fun! This course is full of enjoyable activities and amazing opportunities.­­

Balneet’s award-winning acceptance speech is below. “I prepared for my final speech by creating a speech plan and noting down everything that I would like to include,” said Balneet. “From there onwards I just spoke from the heart. I was so thankful and happy that I was given this opportunity.”