As Missouri’s official Applied Learning University, Missouri Western ensures that students graduate with hands-on experience that will benefit them within their career field. Students majoring in Strategic Communication gain this hands-on experience in a course divided into two semesters: COM 415 Public Relations Campaigns and COM 444 Public Relations Practices.


When Dr. Jennifer Jackson, assistant professor of communication and instructor of these courses, began working at Missouri Western during the 2017-18 school year, the class worked for the Department of Communication and Journalism. The students were able to make recommendations to the department’s curriculum, create a logo and establish a departmental Facebook page. They were also able to make recommendations on how to recruit more students to the department.


During the 2019-20 school year, the class branched out beyond campus and worked with the St. Joseph Human Rights Commission. They helped create a logo, design postcards and stickers, and develop a Facebook page. The project led to the Commission ordering name tags, a tent, and a tablecloth for events among other items. (See “Class works with human rights commission” – Spring 2020) 


This year, the class is divided into two groups, one working with The Freudenthal Center for Parkinson’s Disease and the other working with Saint Joseph’s Sustainable Environment Advisory Committee.


In order to best serve their real-world clients, students complete research, interview clients and conduct primary data collection during the fall component of the course. At the conclusion of the fall semester, they present their campaign proposal to the client, after which the client will decide what they would like students to implement during the spring semester.


“This senior capstone course is the total implementation of what they have learned in their major,” Dr. Jackson said. “Students learn how rapidly things can change (learning flexibility), how to take feedback/criticisms and grow their skills, and how to interact with clients.”


Dr. Jackson makes sure she is available to meet the needs of the students throughout the whole process, but by the time the students reach the spring semester, or implementation phase, she plays the role of the CEO of their class agency. “They come to class to present what they are working on, get approvals or feedback and send things on to their clients,” she said. “Every day in this class is different and fluid, depending on the students, clients and the campaign, but that makes it much more refreshing because it is an opportunity to watch the students achieve so much in a small amount of time.”


Senior Allison Hildbrand believes that Dr. Jackson’s course is the most useful course she has taken in college. “It’s almost like test-driving my career. I used to worry that I wasn’t going to be ready for a career when I graduated, but this class is going above and beyond to make sure I am more than ready.”


Pictured, from left to right, are Myleigh Lanham ’18, Alicen Fowler ’18 and Bethany Vonseggern ’18, students in Dr. Jackson’s 2018 campaign class, at that year’s Foundation Appreciation Reception.