Finding COMM-unity

By: Hope Lehnick

In 2016, I had no idea what majoring in communications meant.


I came into Simmons College as a political science major. A major that everyone can define because that was easy to digest for those helping me afford my education. It felt reliable. A major that could pair with anything and could carry on to graduate school if I choose that path.


In my first semester, I felt disconnected. I could not find myself within academics or residence life. I turned to student organizations to supplement the community I was lacking. I joined Class Council, the Campus Activities Board, and Simmons Radio: The Shark. 


I remember walking up to the radio table at the Connections Carnival and talking to the members of the station for at least 20 minutes. I thought these could be my people. An escape from my trajectory of perpetual academia. My first training introduced me to the Communications Department. Settled on the third floor of Lefavour, every office door inviting and centered around the lab, where most comm students spent their time outside of class. It felt like a community.


I decided to take my first Public Relations class in the spring semester and declared my major in public relations and marketing communications by May. I felt like I found a major that would teach me versatile career skills I could take anywhere, but the icing on the cake was the community I found in Lefavour. I always knew where to go to find friends new and old. 


The idea of becoming a university started popping up in my sophomore year. Gossip spread that the Communications Department would be moving and before my eyes, my safe space at Simmons was crumbling. The community I built wouldn’t be the same. The worst part? I wouldn’t be there for the change.


At the end of sophomore year, when plans were finished for the Communications Department’s transition, mine were too. I was accepted into the Disney College Program– a six-month program at the Walt Disney World Resort where students can live, learn and work within the parks. I had dreamt of this opportunity since I was 11 years old. I left Simmons behind for a semester to embark on my dream.


When I came back to Simmons, it was a completely different place. We moved from college to university status.  The office I once worked in became the new Communications Department and my office lives across from my former hangout.


I could not bring myself to enter the new department once I returned to Simmons. I did not understand how I could be so lost in a place that was built for me. I felt disassociated from the community I found myself in and missed the learning curve everyone went through the semester before. I was on the outside again.


Gradually, my classes started forcing me into the new space. I began to hang out in the lounge, but it felt like I was missing the nostalgia I had created for the third floor of Lefavour. 


I procrastinated on completing the graphic design requirement for public relations majors. As a student currently taking the class, I realized the nostalgia I was missing lived in the new CommLab. I had no reason to visit the lab upon my return; I never knew that’s where the feeling of the old department lived. 


Despite moving from familiarity to a space designed for us, the spirit of the Communications Department remains the same. I owe the department the connections I made with the alumnae network, the support I have found in my professors, and the security I feel graduating from this program. 


In 2020, I know majoring communications means I always have a home at Simmons University. 

Made by the 2020 senior communication students at Simmons University