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Alumni Spotlights

Ali Hardy

Ali Hardy

Graduating from the Department of Communication in 2012 with a BA in Communication and a Public Relations certificate, Ali used her degree to accomplish professional goals in public relations.

While enrolled at Boise State, Ali remained active in BSU’s chapter of PRSSA, a professional student organization for aspiring PR pros. She held several positions on the executive board, including president from 2011-2012.

“This experience was especially valuable, as it gave me real, practical PR experience. I talked to media, organized events, and even partnered with Cotton for their From Blue to Green campaign on campus. My on-campus involvement led to friendships, professional connections, experience, skills, and internships. I can’t say enough stellar things about my student org experience.”

Ali put her PR certificate and internship experience to work and defined a career path to be a successful PR professional. Both the degree and certificate enhanced her resume and helped set her apart during interview processes.

“Overall, the most significant and useful thing that my degree gave me was a strong set of writing skills. As part of my job I write every day, and my course work truly challenged me to become a better writer. There are probably some papers I turned in to my professors at BSU that I hope never see the light of day again, but I truly grew as a writer at Boise State. I owe that to instructors who deliberately challenged me (tears were shed) and I’m better for those assignments and opportunities.”

Currently, Ali works for Zions Bank in downtown Boise as Public Relations Officer. Her role takes her to all corners of the Gem State, from Lewiston to Rexburg. She executes strategic communication activities, which includes media relations, managing major PR events, supporting marketing and internal communication efforts and leading community outreach.

“Needless to say, no two days are the same. I recognize now that my education and experience was a daily reminder to accomplish my goals and enhance the community around me.”

Since graduating from Boise State in 2012, Ali held positions with a few different organizations in the treasure valley, from nonprofit to public to corporate, each of which gave her valuable experience in PR. Her career highlights range from organizing a large PR event at the State Capitol, doing PR for the Sun Valley Film Festival, and writing for a Golden Spike Award-winning lifestyle magazine, to arranging a press conference on the steps of the Seattle City Hall.

“At times, I’ve found myself at an event surrounded by community leaders, celebrities, aspiring entrepreneurs or singing children and I’m reminded that this is my day job. It’s not always art shows, films and ribbon cuttings, but it is always rewarding. On the elevator up to my office the other day a coworker said to me, ‘Your job seems like a lot of fun,’ and I didn’t disagree with her.”

Leigh Ann Dufurrena

LeighAnn Dufurrena

LeighAnn Dufurrena

As a communication (with PR emphasis) alumnus of Boise State, Leigh Ann is very excited to be the person behind Boise State’s social media voice, and to offer her expertise in the field. Although online media is a new field, she sees many traditional communication and media roles transitioning to fill jobs in this industry, and she is proud to be at the forefront.

After working several years at creative agencies and as a freelance entity in Boise, ultimately she became part of Boise State’s professional staff as Digital Communications Specialist in the Office of Communications and Marketing.

“My position is new, and my overall job responsibilities include strategic and tactical social media management, digital content creation and management and online journalism.”

Kayla Griffin

Meet Communication Graduate Student, Kayla Griffin who explains why her Comm degree helped to bridge the gap between an education and her dreams.

Kayla Griffin

“All I have ever wanted to do with my life is rescue animals and paint. I chose a degree in Communication because it was the only department that allowed me to pursue any dream. I learned applicable skills such as: public speaking, presenting, debate and logic, contemporary issues, and rhetoric.”

At first she worried about limitations, that she wouldn’t be able to do the things she truly loved. However, as an undergraduate Kayla was hired by Zoo Boise to work with endangered species and in conservation just because she was able to communicate with visitors in a way that biologist couldn’t. She translated jargon into common language, leaving visitors more empowered to protect endangered species. She enjoyed ding fun things with Zoo Boise, such as feeding new born coatis, cleaning the penguin pool, and even running the butterfly exhibit.

“Art is communication, so it makes sense to have an educated background in communication. How people construct shared meaning is a valuable thing to understand. That alone can take you anywhere! I love communication scholarship so much I’ve begun to pursue my Graduate Degree.”

Brittany Lock

Brittany Lock

Lock utilizes her degree to create a television show that airs on BTV Cable One channel 60, University Television Productions, YouTube and Facebook. Lock is a Communication junior who works with other Comm students to bring the episodes to life; although she produces and hosts the show herself.

When asked how she would respond to someone inquiring , “What can you do with a Comm degree?” her response is candid and sincere.

“What can’t you do with one?” is an excellent answer. For me personally, I intend on putting my communication degree to use by pursuing a career in broadcast journalism. I have chosen this major and career because I believe that knowledge is power. It doesn’t matter if you are a homeless person in the laundry mat or the president of the United States sitting in the Oval Office, you deserve to have a stream of unbiased information delivered to you so that you can make your own informed decisions about how you will live your life- or better yet, act upon the information to change your community, and ultimately the world, for the better.”

In her communication classes, Brittany learned how to present herself and information in a way that will influence the most people.

“You know what they say, ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’ My classes have given me the skill set to influence the lives around me, but also have taught me about morality and my responsibility to the community I live in. I am going to do everything I can with my degree to use my influence for the better.”

Gabriel Kristal

Gabriel Kristal

Meet Gabriel Kristal, a 2004 Communication Alumni who attended BSU from 1996-2000.  It was during Kristal’s senior year when he qualified for an internship position with the AFL-CIO’s Organizing Institute, that ultimately led to a position with a labor union. He loved representing workers so much that he didn’t return for his final semester until 2004.

Kristal started at BSU as a non-traditional student, selecting the communication major because of an interested in radio. As a kid he grew up loving one program in particular on BSU radio (Mutant Pop), and decided he really wanted to be involved in public radio. However, by the time he enrolled, there was no longer student programming on KBSU. Thus began one of the key lessons he learned while attending classes in the Communication Department:

“…if people want to change things, they have to organize. Through the messaging and rhetorical skills we were learning, we were able to negotiate student-broadcasting hours, and I was able to host two different programs on KBSU.”

The experiences with KBSU helped him realize that a life of broadcasting wasn’t what he wanted after all. Recognizing the extreme demands that require an attention to detail, this was not an innate quality for him.

“Fortunately, I learned that I really love organizing people to fight for change and that I have a real gift for that work.”

Kristal discovered his true passion. After a rewarding career in the labor movement, he was afforded opportunities to organize healthcare workers, which in turn led to assisting thousands of workers form their own unions, negotiate contracts, and occasionally he helped them to lead strikes. Currently, he is the upstate director for the New York State Nurses Association; a position he is thrilled to have.

“I attribute much of my success to the tremendous education that I received in communication at BSU. The department’s emphasis on both theory and praxis enabled me to understand the mechanics of messaging as well as the philosophy behind it. On the practical side, Professors Lutze and Rudd were incredibly exacting in making sure that we took pride in our work.; on the theoretical side, Professors Rohlfing and McLuskie cared enough about BSU students to ensure that we had a basic grasp of the history of ideas.”

Brittney Johnson

Brittney Johnson

Meet 2014 Communication Alumni, Brittney Johnson, who is currently the Director of Football Operations at Montana State University. Johnson is 1 of 4 women in the nation with this title in all levels of football (professional and college). Before that, she was the Fan Engagement and Innovative Demographic Identity Consultant for the Minnesota Vikings; a fancy title for ‘marketing to their female fan base’.

“All of these accomplishments wouldn’t have been possible without Boise State and my education as a Comm Major.”

Johnson started her career in the NFL as the Marketing and Promotions Manger for the Denver Broncos. She attributes her successes to both her Communication degree, and a continued relationship with Dr. Laurel Traynowicz.

“Laurel really made my career move fast in positive ways. She also taught me so many skills that I still use on a day to day basis. She brought in a guest speaker my senior year to talk to our class about researching cultures of fans in professional sports. His name is Dr. Harrison. It was through her connection that Dr. Harrison reached out to me and got me connected with the Minnesota Vikings!”

She emphasizes how not only communication skills, but relationships with professors go such a long way in the community.

“A Comm degree can lead to amazing opportunities – like the NFL!”

Deanah Messenger

Deana Messenger

Deanah Messenger attended BSU’s Communication department in the 1980’s, and graduated in 1989 with degrees in Communication and History.

“This was such a great time to be a college student. There was so much happening at that time. There was the Anti-Apartheid movement, the Women’s movement, the Gay rights movement, Central American Solidarity work, and Desert Storm (the first Iraq war) to be protested. Howard Zinn came to school, as did Abbie Hoffman, Rosa Parks and Cesar Chavez.”

Messenger marched for women’s right to choose, for gay rights, for peace,  and to demand a state recognized Martin Luther King holiday. The Boise State campus was buzzing with social change activity during the 80’s and she loved being involved. Furthermore, she appreciated the experiences that developed from her education in the Department of Communication.

Over the years, Messenger noticed the value of a Communication degree falling under scrutiny from individuals, or the community.

“Sometimes people make derisive comments about the level of education Boise State offers. On the contrary, I believe I earned a top notch education.”