I attended both the Religious Communication Association’s (RCA) national convention and the National Communication Association’s (NCA) national convention in Salt Lake City, UT from November 7-11, 2018. The 2018 theme was Communication at Play.
I have been a member of both organizations since 1984 and have enjoyed presenting papers, chairing and responding to panels, as I did this year, together with learning from fellow scholars about the latest advancements in the discipline.
However, the things that have moved me the most in the last ten years or so has been the opportunity to meet with former Communication students and continue some of the same discussions that we had when they were undergraduate students.
One former student that I had an opportunity to meet with completed her MA and PhD after graduating from VU and is currently an elected officer in one the organizations sponsoring the conventions. She also serves as chair of her university’s Communication Studies Department. I was so glad that we had an opportunity to reconnect and carry on our professional relationship—not as a professor and undergraduate student but now as two professional colleagues and friends.
I also was able to sit in on two panels: one that she chaired, and one in which she was a presenter. The second panel was entitled “Reaping and Sowing: Confession, Direction and Response to #MeToo and #Silenceisnotspiritual.”
This panel was one of the most powerful presentations I have ever attended at a convention. I wish more members of the Church could have heard it.
I also had an opportunity to listen to another Department alumnus present a paper for a panel sponsored by the Critical and Cultural Studies Division of the National Communication Association. In 2015 this alumnus was awarded the Outstanding Dissertation Award from the same Division and currently is an assistant professor at a university in Virginia.
After her presentation, we had a wonderful time reconnecting and discussing the ups and downs of academia. She even reminded me about the times when she was a Vanguard student that we would meet in my campus office for academic advising. She told me that now she is advising her own students and listening to their concerns.
We laughed about God having a sense of humor.
Although I thoroughly enjoy the academic engagement that conventions provide, I believe that it is the interpersonal dimensions—the ability to reconnect with colleagues—that is the most lasting benefit of attending.