Carly Erickson ’20, Hawley, Minn.
Major/Minor: Communication Studies; English Writing

Carly Erickson on laptop

At my high school graduation party, I remember my grandmother asking me what I would be majoring in at Concordia. I knew I liked writing, analyzing media, and socializing with others. I never imagined that there could possibly be a major that encompassed all of that, so I told her that I would figure it out when classes started in the fall.

Soon after, I registered for COM 111 – Introduction to Communication Studies with Dr. Aileen Buslig. I did not know what to expect but, sure enough, that was one of the courses that shaped my path at Concordia.

Not having a clue what communication studies entailed, Dr. Buslig opened my eyes to the excitement, opportunities, and rigor of the program that Concordia offers. Dr. Buslig’s informative and lecture-style teaching ability complemented my learning style and hearing her excitement about communication studies gave me the boost to be excited about it too. COM 111 served as a perfect stepping stone to learning about the study of communication.

My freshman year, I joined KORD Radio, Concordia’s student-run radio station. I always enjoyed music but even more so enjoyed listening to the radio. I did not necessarily have a knack for singing or playing instruments, but I did end up having a flair for sharing my favorite music with others and KORD Radio was the ideal outlet for that.

I started out as a radio DJ, having a weekly radio show that took place in the evening. In the beginning, speaking on-air terrified me. Now, nearly three years later, it is a breeze and something that actually excites me. Participating in KORD Radio gave me the confidence to expand on my public speaking skills, helped grow my love of music, and allowed me to share that love of music with others. This year, I will be the KORD Radio station manager.

But how could communication studies help me turn this passion into a career? I think back to the New Media course I took with Dr. Greg Carlson. We delved into the history of radio, print publications, television, marketing, and media. It was eye-opening, exciting, and included everything I loved to learn about. We talked about careers in radio or writing and how those “dreams” were not far-fetched but were actually attainable. This course gave me peace of mind in my decision to continue studying communication.

Carly Erickson in Concordia On Air studio

My sophomore year, I took a Feature Writing course that opened my eyes to the idea of minoring in English writing. The course’s professor, Scott Olsen, is an accomplished writer who encouraged me to check out some of Concordia’s English programs such as News Writing, Foundations in Creative Writing, and Fiction Writing Seminar. All semester, we analyzed essays, writing styles, and discussed important stories in history. Our final project for the course was to write a long-form story on a topic of our choosing. Unsurprisingly, I chose to write about the history of radio. I left the class happy with the knowledge I gained and felt more connected to writing than ever.

Then, I took a Persuasive Communication course with Dr. Don Rice. We examined the theories and research behind rhetoric, communication theory, interpersonal communication, and group communication. This class helped me recognize the importance of theory in communication studies. The course was writing intensive, which encouraged me to become better at polishing my academic voice. Dr. Rice was always conscious of making his classroom a space in which everyone was able to share their thoughts and opinions, which showed me and my classmates that our opinions were a vital part of the group discussion. Plus, he is pretty comedic and always made us laugh.

When I secured a spot writing for The Concordian, Concordia’s student-run newspaper, I felt excited to begin writing in my own creative voice. I was an opinion writer, with my column focused on music reviews. My column was where my passion for writing music reviews grew. I could research new music and share that information and my love of it with others? It almost sounded too good to be true. This role gave me the drive and confidence to continue writing and even made me wonder if I could have a career in writing. With everything that I learned firsthand about writing for The Concordian, I decided to add an English writing minor to my degree.

Communication studies and English writing were always the right path for me. When I pitched the idea of adding an English writing minor to my advisor, Dr. Kirsten Theye, we both kind of looked at each other and laughed. “Why didn’t you choose that sooner? It makes total sense!” Hearing that someone else believed English writing would be a good fit for me was a relief. Her support and guidance is something that helped me feel optimistic about my decision. Concordia’s programs and faculty are constantly helping set me and other students up for success and for that I am grateful.