The Department of Communication Studies, The College of Social Science and Humanities, and The Foundation had the opportunity to host a welcome back event for Austin Jenckes, The Voice contestant, Alumni of Western Washington University in January, 2014. Dr. Perry coordinated the event with help from student leaders, work study students, event planning students, Dr. Karen Stout, Angela Vandenhaak, and Dean LeaAnn Martin. This event was a success. Many students, staff, faculty, along with Austin’s mom shared reflections about the impact Austin has made on their lives. In this blog, Dr. Perry’s student leaders, Dr. Perry, Austin, and his mom (Joyce Buck) share our overall experience regarding the event. See part II to read more about Austin’s visit to WWU.
Student Leader, Jessica Ramirez reflects on Austin’s visit
I was very excited when I received the news that I would be assisting with the planning of Austin Jenckes visit to the Communication Studies Department at Western Washington University! What an honor to help plan an event for an amazing Alumnus. I knew a little about Austin because I was in Dr. Tara Perry’s interpersonal class. In her class she has a “Celebration of Life” assignment that encourages students to reflect on life and death. When Austin was a student in 2006 he permitted Dr. Perry and her video team to record his story regarding personal grief. In his video he shares about his father’s passing and how he dealt with it. One of the best messages that I took from that video was that I needed to live in the moment. I am the type of person who needs to plan her daily/weekly life especially being in college. Austin mentioned in his video that yes it is important to be organized and to plan but at the top of your to-do list you need to go out and enjoy life. It was something that just hit home for me and that I needed to
enjoy my life more. On the day of the event I was fortunate to meet Austin! He was as kind as everyone had said. At event, the Communication professors, students, and administrators had such kind words to say about Austin. Austin expressed his gratitude to his previous professors and how much they helped him grow as individual. He was able to tell them how much they helped him achieve his goals and how he became an effective communicator. Austin is a genuine guy who is following his dream as an artist and a lover of people. After being featured in one of the world’s popular TV show’s, The Voice, he is still able to stay true to who his values and beliefs.
Written by: Jessica Ramirez, Student Leader. Communication Studies Major.
Student Speaks about Austin’s impact on his life
I took a communication class at Western Washington University (WWU) during fall quarter 2013. It is a class devoted to the importance of interpersonal relationships and building a positive self concept. A part of the class, there is a week long discussion on the Celebration of Life and the topic of grief. The Dark Side of communication is a tough topic to talk about because we avoid taboo topics in our daily conversations. Something I struggle with in my life is sharing my “feelings”, or any trials or difficult times I am going through. During this section of the class, Dr. Perry a professor at WWU brings in guest speakers to share about grief and life. One of those guests was Austin Jenckes, a finalist on the hit NBC show the Voice. What he had to say and what he shared with the class and me changed my life instantly. He made a video when he took the very same class a few years ago, sharing his story of grief and what he did to celebrate life. His story was incredible, the trials and adversity he had to fight through, and where he has ended up today gives hope to many people in the world going through the same thing. What he did
to impact my life was his willingness to share his personal story about the loss of his father with every interpersonal communication student that Dr. Perry teaches. Observing his courage to share and the willingness to be vulnerable opened my eyes to the idea that I could do the same thing in my life. If I shared my story, I could possibly change some one’s life or let others know they are not alone. Due to Austin’s influence, during winter 2014, I decided to return to Dr. Perry’s class as a guest speaker and shared my own personal loss of my grandparents with students. I want to thank Austin for changing my life and so many others. Good luck Austin, and thank you for all that you have done for WWU and the students of this community. Your story continues to impact others even though you are now an alumni of WWU.
Written by: Cody Greene, Student Leader. Political Science and Communication Studies Major.
Check out reception photos here