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Applied Communication Studies

Featured Alumni

michelle blackwood

Michelle Blackwood

B.S. in Speech Communication, 2008
(Track: Corporate & Organizational Communication)
M.A. in Speech Communication, 2010
(Areas of Emphasis: Health & Interpersonal Communication)

I am currently working as the Director of Communication and Education at Challenge Unlimited, Inc. As a non-for-profit organization, Challenge Unlimited, Inc. was established in 1959 to provide work related opportunities to individuals with disabilities.

The knowledge and skills I acquired during my program of studies for both degrees had prepared me well. While my undergraduate training formed the groundwork necessary for success in a business environment, my graduate training drew me to the health/nonprofit industry. During my time in the graduate program, I also held a graduate assistantship position as the Director of the Speech Center. The assistantship I had enhanced my teaching and public speaking skills, which I utilize on a daily basis in my capacity as the Director of Communication and Education. My other job responsibilities include: designing and facilitating training and development programs, employee engagement initiatives, community outreach, and internal employee communication plans. In short, the training I received through the Department of Applied Communication Studies has certainly molded me into a well-rounded professional.

Additionally, I serve as a part-time lecturer for the department, and the courses I teach include basic public speaking and interpersonal communication skills. I feel fortunate for being able to stay connected and contribute to a department, which has made such a positive impact in my personal and professional life.

Frieda Smith

Frieda E. Smith

M.A. in Speech Communication, 1994
(Area of Emphasis: Organizational Communication)

For over 15 years, Frieda Smith has worked in education related positions at the Saint Louis Science Center. She is currently Senior Director of Education Programs and Galleries. Since June 2014, when a new Chief of Education joined the team, her work life has brought new and exciting opportunities, from realigning staff and work centers, to sharing the organizational culture and corporate memory as part of the Chief’s onboarding process, to differentiating between when to get out of the way and when to step in. Frieda’s job has begun transitioning to include special projects identified by the Chief as important overarching goals that affect the working of the division or the organization.

Additionally, Frieda was recognized in November 2014 when Diversity Awareness Partnership (DAP) named their highest giving level for her, based on her ongoing work with that group. She was one of DAPs founding members, served 10 years on their board of directors – the last three as board chair, and has consistently given of her time, talents and finances.

Frieda believes in helping others grow as leaders – her favorite young leaders to mentor are her daughter, Veronica, and son, Randy, but she is always willing to share and exchange with anyone.

Frieda’s philosophy: there is NO job that does not need someone who understands Organizational Communication, so her Master’s degree from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville is useful and will always serve her well.

Ken Steward

Ken Steward

B.S. in Speech Communication, 2006
(Track: Public Relations)

Ken Steward graduated from SIUE in 2006 with a degree in Speech Communication, specializing in public relations. While working on his degree, he completed an internship with the National Children's Cancer Society in St. Louis. After graduation, he was hired as an intern in the research department of Fleishman Hillard, an international public relations agency with headquarters in St. Louis.

In 2009, Ken accepted a position as the Central Illinois Development Officer for Baptist Children's Home and Family Services (BCHFS), a nonprofit agency with the mission of providing Christ-centered services that protect, heal and restore hurting children and families. Since 2011, Ken has served as the Director of Development and Communications for BCHFS and is in charge of overseeing the agency's fundraising, public relations and marketing efforts.

Ken resides in his hometown of Bethalto, Illinois with his wife, Annette and son, Jacob.


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