Department of Communication

Alumni Spotlights

Andy Billman

ABAndy has been working at ESPN for the past 18 years. Currently he produces documentaries for the sports network. His recent documentary, Believeland chronicles the relationship between the city of Cleveland and its sports teams. Billman, a lifelong diehard Cleveland sports fan himself, was interested in untangling how Clevelanders’ relationship with their sports teams has evolved over the years. He also hosts the podcast, Cleveland and Beyond, which focuses on all things related to Cleveland sports.

Andy’s time in the UToledo Communication department helped prepare him for his career with ESPN. As a student he was able to do local play-by-play, which helped him get his first job at ESPN. He also admits that he struggled with writing, but his time at UToledo instilled in him the importance of writing well. “Criticism made me better,” he says, “I really learned how to take something and pair it down to its best. A lot of time you’re relying on yourself to make your product the best.”

When asked what he would tell new students coming into the program, he offers “You got to be willing into learn. You don’t always know what you need to learn. You have to realize you don’t know everything.” He also believes that the department’s focus on teaching students how to learn is valuable. He cites Media History as one of the most important classes he took in his time at UToledo because it helped him put the media landscape in perspective. He explains that “Everyone loves pizza. It’s popular now and always will be. But media won’t be. Cable is not now what it was 20 years ago. And Instagram won’t be the same in 20 years as it is now. I learned that you have to be observant and learn to change. You have to embrace change, not fight it. And the communication department at UToledo helps you learn how to adapt.”

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Branden Cobb

Branden Cobb Branden is using his communication degree to elevate companies' branding, marketing, and communication. His position as the Senior Vice President of Global Business Development for Ellora Infotech has him expanding the marketing and IT agency's brand awareness and clientele across the globe. Additionally, Branden consults with a variety of companies on their marketing and teaches marketing MBA courses at several universities worldwide.

He credits studying communication to better being able to understand differences in cultural communications and being able to connect with a wide range of people. Branden believes that “we are living in a world where you need to know at least a little bit about media and press.” His time at the UToledo Communication Department was helpful in preparing him. He especially relies on the skills he learned related to nonverbal communication, group communication, organization, and media history. Faculty involvement was key to his learning experience.

“Communication is a versatile degree that can be used in nearly any industry. Pair it with whatever interests you have. You will be better at it because you studied communication.”

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Benjamin Fletcher

Benjamin FletcherBenjamin has used what he learned in his communication major in a variety of ways. After graduating in 2010, he began working at the Toledo Zoo in their membership and development department. A few years later, he attended graduate school where his communication training was vital to his success. After he completed his master’s degree, he went on to work at both the National Museum of the Great Lakes and the Lucas County Land Bank in various capacities.

 Benjamin currently works as the Finance and Operations Manager for the Tempe Convention and Visitors Bureau. His position offers him lots of ways in which he uses his communication degree. The day-to-day management of both the operations and finances of the Bureau involves making financial presentations and communicating Human Resource compliance measures to various audiences. “There are so many things I do every day, and I’m always utilizing those skills.”

 He has seen firsthand how vital communication skills are in today’s marketplace. “You can’t be successful without building relationships, and that is based on the ability to communicate effectively.” He is thankful that his degree helped him think through how to make communication more intentional, which is often lacking in many areas of society. He admits that he did not always realize how much he would use his communication skills post-graduation. “All the things you learned in college that you said, ‘when am I going to use this,’ actually come in handy when you least expect it.” 

He says he is forever grateful for his experiences at the University of Toledo and to the staff in the Department of Communication.

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Caleb Gill

Caleb GillCaleb was able to use his communication degree to immediately land a job as the Sports Director at KJAM Radio in Madison, South Dakota, right after graduation. He does on-air shifts in the morning, along with writing all sports related content for both air and online. Additionally, he also calls play-by-play for NAIA school, Dakota State University, and serves as the "Voice of the Trojans", calling both football and basketball games. He will also call games for local Madison High School.

Without the experiences Caleb was able to gain at the University of Toledo he says, "I would not be where I am right now. I tried to take advantage of every opportunity that I could, and because of that I was able to land a job immediately after college." At UT, Caleb was able to do live sports production, radio, and television helping to give him a diverse skill set. "I am constantly using the skills I gained from my time at Toledo, and not even just the skills I took away from radio. But I also use many of the skills I gained from both UT:10 and Live Sports Production."
He urges students in this major to explore their interests and opportunities available to them in the program.  "Once you find your passion, use every avenue and opportunity you can, to help you get to where you want to go."

Natalie Gray

Natalie GrayNatalie currently serves as the Youth Services Manager for the Toledo Arts Commission. She loves that her job allows her to be connected to the Toledo Art Scene. She is responsible for promoting, hiring seasonal staff, scheduling, grant reporting and social media. She also oversees the Young Artists at Work Program and the Marcy Kaptur's Ninth Congressional District Invitational High School Art Exhibition.

She started working with the Toledo Arts Commission as a volunteer, moved into an internship. When she graduated she moved into a full-time position in Creative Placemaking.

She relies on communication skills constantly in her role. She believes that the ability to communicate with all different kinds of people is vital to success. Flexibility is key since innovation, creativity and collaboration are what drive the art scene. She often works to connect people to projects which involves getting support from various stake-holders. This also requires her to have a sense of cultural competence since so many different kinds of people orbit the Toledo Arts Commission.

Her experience in the UToledo Communication program played a major role in her success. She explains that “the faculty were great. They helped me learn how to advocate for myself. I learned my DIY attitude. You have to advocate for yourself because no one else is going to advocate for you.” She appreciates that her communication degree taught her a variety of skills. “I like that the Communication degree helped me become adaptable and diverse. It didn’t pigeon-hole me too much.” The most important skills were networking, public presentations and interpersonal communication. If she had one piece of advice to give to incoming students, it would be “It’s more important to be curious than right. Don’t let your dream muscle become atrophied.”

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Candice Harrison

CHCandice’s Communication degree has opened doors for her to work at some really exciting places. She is currently the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at SSOE, where she is responsible for developing programs and solutions that further foster an inclusive work environment. She leads the implementation of the firm’s DEI vision, develop compelling and inclusive messaging, create aspirational goals and plans for change, and an in-depth assessment of SSOE’s DEI initiatives.

Candice was previously employed with Toledo Public Schools as the External Communications Manager, responsible for media relations, social media, community engagement initiatives, coordinating digital media and acting as spokesperson for the district. She has also served as the Director of Communication for the Toledo Museum of Art and as Senior Communications Manager for the Toledo Zoo. 

Her Communication degree from UToledo helped prepare her. “I learned about the power of relationships and how to appropriately work with others. It helped me do well in my career.” She likes working for organizations that align with her values and with her “authentic self.” She believes that writing and public speaking skills are vital to career success.

There are a few ways that she believes a student can tell if a Communication degree is right for them. “If you enjoy working with others, helping to elevate brands, helping to lift others up, you may be interested in the field of communication. There are so many paths outside of broadcasting. There is a whole industry that people don’t know about because it’s behind the scenes. But strong brands and companies are driven by the most dynamic communicators.”

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Isaac Petkac

IPIsaac Petkac put his UToledo Communication Degree to work quickly as he graduated from UToledo and went directly to work for Erie News Now, where he is currently a sports anchor and reporter. He enjoys his job because “there is so much to look forward to. I like that you walk in and you don’t know what your day is going to be. It’s a fun business to be in when you don’t know what comes next.”

Isaac’s position has its origins in an internship he completed at UToledo. One of the anchors at Erie News Now reached out to him after his internship. So he emailed the news director and he was hired in no small part due to the contacts he made during his internship.

Isaac believes that the UToledo Communication program prepared him by teaching him how to be flexible, how to tell stories, and how to communicate (not just on air, but behind the scenes as well). He recognizes that the opportunities he had at UToledo helped him learn how to adapt and handle multiple things at once. He notes that “all of the things I was afforded to do helped me to learn how to handle stress. Rather than feel overwhelmed, I feel confident in my ability to handle things.”

When asked what the UToledo Communication program offers that you might not get at other places, he offered “if you choose UToledo, you’re going to get the ability to get your hands-on experience immediately. The other thing UToledo allows is that you get to control your own growth. It’s not a place where they put students on an assembly line. If you really care, and if you believe you can be successful, you will be successful, because there are plenty of opportunities” 

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Areeba Shah

ASAreeba is using her Communication Degree to make the world a better place. She is currently a staff writer at Salon covering news and politics. As a reporter committed to examining issues through an equity lens, her work often highlights issues impacting historically marginalized communities. Previously, she was a researcher at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, where she worked on projects exposing government corruption and dark money spending in politics.

Areeba has also reported on how COVID-19 has impacted migrant farmworkers in the Midwest as a reporting fellow for the Pulitzer Center. Her work has included covering the coronavirus outbreak in nursing homes, working on a long-term project about immigration court in Chicago and reporting on the Democratic primaries in South Carolina. Areeba is also a graduate of Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism where she pursued a MSJ with a focus in Social Justice and Investigative Reporting. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, Chicago Reader, The Blade and Pakistan’s Friday Times.

Areeba believes her communication degree played an important part in her success. “The communication degree exposes you to a lot of different things. I took classes in video editing, TV production, investigative journalism and audio editing, and public speaking. These classes prepared me to think on my feet. I was pushed out of my comfort zone. When I graduated college I was ready to take on anything.”

She is especially confident that a communication degree is essential to today’s marketplace because you never know what is going to be the next skill set you rely on. It is great to be a well-rounded individual because you never know what your next gig is going to be.

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Reginald Temple

RTReggie has been in banking for over 25 years. He started as a teller while he was still a UToledo student and he now serves as Vice President of Premier Bank. He also acts as the Director of Community Development. His role in this capacity is a community ambassador for the Bank. He coordinates activities in the area and works to ensure Premier Bank is meeting its corporate responsibility by reinvesting back in the Community. He is thrilled that his career allows him to make a difference in the community that he was born and raised in.

Reggie relies on communication skills constantly in his job. He currently manages a team of 6 six people, gives media interviews, works on product creation, teaches financial literacy classes and leads staff meetings. His time in the Communication Department at UToledo helped prepare him with the skills necessary to succeed in banking. “I took classes that drilled home the importance of public speaking. I learned to talk confidently. How to project. How to keep listeners engaged. My professors were maniacal about my writing style, and I use that stuff every single day. Every time I send an email to all our 400 employees, that email represents me.”

Reggie believes that the flexibility of a communication degree was instrumental in helping him prepare for today’s marketplace. “A communication degree is a Swiss army knife. It can do lots of things. You just have to choose how you want to use it.”

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Rosalyn Whickum

Rosalyn Whickum

Rosalyn implements her communication degree daily, as the Digital Media Specialist at the YMCA of Greater Toledo. Her current role primarily focuses on the strategy for building and maintaining the YMCA's online presence. In addition to the YMCA, Rosalyn works with the aMAYSing Kids Broadcast Camp alongside Tisha Mays, teaching elementary students various multimedia skills. She also makes time for contracted freelance projects such as social media planning, and brand conceptualization. 

Her UToledo communication degree undoubtedly prepared her for managing her multiple roles. “I never felt pressured to find my lane. The professors I worked closest with, always encouraged me that if I employed my skills, the options were limitless. I carry that confidence with me every day.” 

What Rosalyn loves most about her role with the YMCA is that she has the opportunity to innovatively research, create and communicate the impact that her organization makes. She recently redesigned the YMCA website, making it her goal to illustrate the Y’s mission through improved web content. 

Rosalyn encourages students to explore a variety of courses within the department because she believes it offers insight into the processes which take place in the work environment.  “Communication professionals are storytellers, researchers, artists, and more. 

A communication degree from the University of Toledo isn’t just flexible, it is dynamic!”

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Last Updated: 4/7/23