By Ellen Blaize, May 29, 2020
In a time where universities are closed, classes are online and study trips are canceled, Tricia Hansen-Horn, UCM professor and program coordinator of public relations, has found a way to help her students travel – virtually.
Through PR classes such as Global Auto Biz and Western European Media, Travel and Culture, students have utilized Zoom and GoToMeeting to connect with and “travel” through the eyes of professionals across the globe who share their expertise and experiences. The classes have traveled to states including Washington, Florida, Colorado, Michigan and California, as well as Germany and the Czech Republic. The UCM chapter of the National Millennial Community/GenZ Council, made up of PR majors, has also traveled and met virtually for the past few months.
“Due to COVID-19 we were not able to go to Germany,” said DaVontae Hair, senior PR
major. “However, Dr. Trica Hansen-Horn and Dr. Adam Horn have done a very remarkable
job with enabling us to still experience those perspectives and cultures through their
combined network of contacts in the industry.” Some of the professionals that have
collaborated with UCM are from companies such as Audi, WeatherTech, Aircraft Electronics
Association and General Motors.
Hansen-Horn said these virtual meetings have provided students with skills such as
project management, listening in remote meetings, research, interaction with top professionals,
and an understanding of virtual communities and time zone differences, preparing them
for life after graduation. “These virtual travels/meetings have let students make
progress as needed toward degrees, given them a unique sense of community, helped
them connect virtually and via face recognition, let them have a sense of normalcy,
and put UCM and its students "on the map" with professionals who otherwise would not
know about us,” she explained.
Maxlyn Wilbanks, a junior PR major, was able to travel virtually through one of Hansen-Horn’s
courses after a study abroad trip to Germany and the Czech Republic was canceled.
“Although I was not able to travel myself, learning from these professionals who have
traveled all over the world has provided me with a lot of information,” Wilbanks said.
“They have provided links to websites to sign up for global internships, provided
the title of a book that explains different traditions in different countries and
what you should know, and also the best places to travel. These tips and stories have
provided me a chance to travel without leaving my home during this virus.”
Junior PR major Emily Schaper has also used Zoom to explore Germany after a canceled
trip. “The ability to virtually travel has given me insight about world cultures and
the norms within the workplace,” she said. “It is interesting to learn about how the
workplace changes between each country.”
The virtual option has helped with the disappointment of not being able to travel
in person and provided students with a unique learning opportunity. “Communication
is one of the most important things to have as you enter a career, and now more than
ever being able to handle yourself when you are in a different setting is a vital
skill, especially since there is so much uncertainty regarding work environments right
now,” said Faith Ford, junior PR major. “For instance, I have an internship this summer
that I am working remotely for. Now, I have the experience of etiquette and being
in these professional settings without actually being there. I think that our conversations
are also helpful because they offer a worldly perspective without having to leave.
It has made me understand the situation and the impact that COVID-19 has had on everyone.”
Sophomore PR major Ashleigh Horn said traveling virtually has made her hopeful that
once things return to "normal," she will have the opportunity to physically travel
and apply the insights and knowledge she has gained. “When traveling virtually, I
forget that the world is at a standstill,” she explained. “When you hear individuals
share stories of their travels, you often feel like you're sharing in their memories
and almost like you've traveled there yourself. I've learned that everyone has their
own unique story and that we can learn from absolutely anyone and everyone. I hope
that, as I approach graduation and pursue a career beyond graduating, that I will
continue to stay curious.”
Thanks to the work of dedicated UCM professors, students are able to continue learning and growing despite the changes we’re facing as a society. For more information on UCM’s PR program, visit ucmo.edu/pr.