Hilltop on the Hill, 2013 Inauguration

Twenty-one communication studies and journalism students are in Washington, D.C., in January 2013 as part of the Meadows School of the Arts’ Hilltop on the Hill program. In addition to reporting on Inaugural events, the students will visit media and government sites, and meet with political communicators, journalists and SMU alumni. The trip is led by Rita Kirk, professor of communication studies; Daniel Schill, assistant professor of communication studies, and Carolyn Barta, journalism professor. Endowed by the Bauer Foundation, the Hilltop on the Hill program also takes students studying political communication to political party conventions and the G8 Economic Summit.

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The power of communication

An update from Andrew, a communication studies major:

WOW! What a trip.

We have been busy busy busy since we landed at Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C. We have spoken to congressmen, lobbyists, staffers, and many SMU alums.

As a communications major I was blown away by how talented the people we talked to were at communicating their message. George Rogers, Pete Sessions, and Jack Fields were great speakers who kept our attention throughout our time with them. Above all the one thing I noticed most about these talented communicators was their eye contact.

George Rogers is the former chief of staff for Congressman John Boehner, the House speaker, and now is a lobbyist as of a month ago. Jack Fields is a former congressman from Texas who now is an influential consultant. Pete Sessions is the current congressman for the Dallas-area 32nd District. All of these men had extremely interesting things to say, but what impressed me the most was the way they said it. Eye contact.

In today’s world face-to-face communication is becoming less common. People spend all of their time on social media and on their phones, and rarely take the opportunity to look at and speak to the people around them. Rogers, Fields, and Sessions clearly have not hopped on that train.

I kid you not when I say that when Pete Sessions was speaking to us, he made eye contact with me several times and it felt like he was staring into my soul. His eyes were piercing but also engaging. When any of these men were speaking and made eye contact with me, I felt like I was the only person in the room. I hope one day I can be as talented of a communicator as any of these men.

SMU in D.C. Excellent trip. I’ll remember it forever.

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