Leave a comment

Homelessness Outreach Directory

The #EndHomelessnessWWU campaign works closely with local organizations that are also helping those within out community that are experiencing homelessness. This is a comprehensive directory of those Whatcom County organizations: Homelessness Outreach Directory. 



Leave a comment

Back to the Future: Scholars Week WWU 2014

Scholar’s week continues to be a success at Western Washington University. A number of students within our Department of Communication Studies have been nominated for this prestigious week. In the spring of 2014 WWU honored students in Scholars’ Week 2014. Scholars’ Week is an event that provides an opportunity for students to present their research developed in class. Students are encouraged to apply class theories, develop critical thinking skills, and focus on relevant topics. Through a selection process, the Communication Studies Department faculty honored a number of outstanding students from various classes. Scholar’s Week represented students from different majors and provided a platform for students to present their accomplishments.

Scholars’ Week is a time for students to honor their own research on a variety of in-depth and engaging topics. It provides them with the opportunity to network with students and faculty as well as strengthen their public speaking skills and scholarly involvement. In 2014,  Dr. Tara Perry nominated two groups of students who presented research in her Organizational Communication 428 course. In this course, students get an insider’s view of the different communication processes used by employers and employees within organizations. The student paper  titles: Social Networking Sites and the Professional Self and Boss vs Bossy represented diverse and current topics in today’s society.


Photo Credit: Jackie Heller Left: Stephen Harvey, Scholar, Right: Diane Blietz-Hertberg, Professor


Photo Credit: Jackie Heller Left: Dr. Tara Perry, Professor, Center: Chris Gill, Scholar



Photo Credit: Jackie Heller, Left: Sharona Ott, Scholar, Right: James Fortney, Professor

 Student Reflect on their Scholar’s Week Involvement:

 ​”Scholar’s Week is a reminder that well-written research papers should not be archived after they have been evaluated. So many students spend hours constructing amazing research and then forget about it immediately after it is graded. Scholar’s Week is a time when these papers can be both resurrected and recognized by faculty and staff in one of the friendliest environments I’ve ever experienced. This week has sparked some amazing discussions with both my peers and professors and I am so thankful to be part of such an intelligent group of people!” -Courtney Hook

“I think Scholar’s Week really shows the diversity in our department and how unique our field is. I really enjoyed getting to see what other students had put together and how each of us came up with something that we were passionate about, but was completely different than any other person’s presentation. During the school wide poster competition I was able to explain why I love the Communication Department, the field, and inform people about what we really do (and no, it isn’t just public speaking.” –Gabrielle Barnes

“Scholar’s Week really allowed me to be a part of my department in a way that I had not before. I worked with some wonderful students and felt proud to discuss my research with faculty and students. I am honored to be a part of something where students have the opportunity to present their work and not keep it hidden.” -Jackie Heller



Photo Credit: Jackie Heller Left: Mariah___, Scholar, Center: Bailey Gordon, Scholar, Right: Braelynne Dacus, Scholar



Photo Credit: Dr. Tara Perry Left: Jackie Heller, Scholar, Center: Stephen Harvey, Scholar, Right: Henry Thomas, Scholar


Photo Credit: Jackie Heller, Right: Gabrielle Barnes, Scholar, Front Right: Guest Speaker___


Written By: Tara B. Perry & Jackie Heller







Leave a comment

Western Preview


What is Western Preview? It is an opportunity for incoming students and families to go and listen to department presentations. This gives the students a better understanding for the specific degrees they can pursue at Western Washington University. On April 2nd, 2016 Western Preview20160402_131917 was held around campus. Jordan Black, Dr.Tara Perry, Professor Jennifer Hays, and Spencer Carlson lead the presentation for the Communication Department(shown here, listed left to right). They had three separate 30 minute presentations, speaking to over 150 students and their families. Spencer Carlson was quoted in saying, “The Western Preview is extremely important because it showcases the many aspects of the Communication Studies Major”. Most students and parents coming into our presentation were not aware of just how important receiving a degree in Communication can be. Being able to share the communication degree rise to relevance, as proposed by Jason Schmitt of the Huffington Post, can be really eye opening and persuasive for incoming freshmen. Professor Hays found that, “The follow up was important as it allowed students to ask what they were not comfortable asking and the parents connected to those with whom their son or daughter will be working”. This connection with the students after the presentation is a great portrayal of what can be expected if you join the Communication Department; supportive, personable and positive. Overall the Western Preview was a success. For the limited time everyone was given to present, these four represented not only Western Washington University very well, but the entire Communication Department.


Leave a comment

Happiness Develops a Healthy Self-Concept

Happiness is one of the most wonderful feelings in our daily lives. We experience it all around us through friends, family and even strangers we meet. It is important to share your happiness and promote other’s feelings of joy. When you do this, there will be less stress, worry, anger, and disappointment in your life. Continuing to express happiness will improve your state of mind. As you look through these photos below, think about one way that you can share happiness to another person today. Also, think about a person in your life that makes you happy, try to contact them and tell them how much you truly appreciate them.

quotation about happiness

Quotes about Happiness-Be happy quotes Tumblr

Quotes about happiness Tumblr pictures

happy quotes

Quotes about Happiness-Be happy quotes Tumblr

Leave a comment

Let’s Be Thankful: A Few Tips on How to Show your Gratitude


Photo Credit: elephantjournal.com

Do you feel happier when someone tells you thank you and how much they appreciate you? Tammy T. StonResearch explains that our relationships with others is what enriches our lives. It is important to take the time and thank people who make our lives better (Kruger, 2014). For me, showing my appreciation for others is a part of my daily routine. I never go a day without letting at least one person know how thankful I am for them. Gratitude is such a powerful tool of happiness in my life and I want to empower others to embrace this wonderful tool as well. Showing my gratitude is a powerful tool because it brings me true happiness and strengthens my connection with others.

So, what is the problem? Why do some people struggle in showing their gratefulness? My answer to this question is: because they do not know how. Research also shows that it is possible to cultivate an attitude of gratefulness and fully integrate into our lives (Wynne, 2013). There are many ways to cultivate your attitude of gratefulness, and I am here to help.

4 Tips on how to Express Gratitude: 

1. First and foremost, say “thank you!” Whether this be face to face or through text or online, everyone loves to hear someone appreciate them, and it makes you feel good too!

2. Start a gratitude journal. Important: Showing your gratitude does not always mean saying thank you to a human being. Being grateful for something as simple as: “I am grateful for the sunshine today” or “I am happy I am healthy today” are signs of gratefulness. Write this in a gratitude journal every day. It helps to remember what you are thankful for and start and end your day a positive one.

3. Be spontaneous and buy your friend, family or significant other a coffee or a gift! Science shows those people who buy gifts for friends or donate to charities spontaneously have an instant happiness boost (Journal of Science, 2008)

gratitude blog

Photo Credit: Aleesha, Retrieved from her “Ready, Set, Create” Blog

4. Create a joy/gratitude jar. It’s easy. To learn more about how to create a joy jar, click here.

The list goes on and on about how we can show our gratefulness. The real trick is finding what is right for your. You control your happiness. The next time you say “thank you” feel in your heart how good it makes you feel. As David Steindl-Rast states: “The root of joy is gratefulness.”

Here is a story from someone who finds gratitude to be very important in her life:

“To express my gratitude for someone I appreciate brings me joy. Last week I had the opportunity to write a letter of appreciation for a professor that made a difference in my life. I met her when I was 19 years old studying Journalism, Communication, and French. She was not only my professor but soon became my mentor, colleague, and friend. I thanked her for believing in my abilities when other professors discouraged me based on my ethnic background and their perceptions. She taught me how to write creatively and share my personal experiences as a journalist. This professor played a major role in me becoming a professor and returning to teach at WWU. I selected WWU based on the close interpersonal relationship that I developed with this special professor and others. Today she is now my colleague and friend. We go to dinner, share personal stories, and do what friends do. I am very grateful to have met a professor like Carolyn Dale. I use many of the tools and knowledge learned from her.” Written By: Tara B. Perry


Center: Jackie Heller Photo Credit: Katie Pease

“I was lucky enough to appreciated and thanked for my work as a Dr. Tara Perry’s Student Leader through a very unique and fun activity. Dr. Perry found a gratitude activity on Pinterest. The activity involved me sitting on a chair in front of the whiteboard while students crowded around me writing words of appreciation. As they crowded around me giggling and smiling I couldn’t help but turn red. After the chaos was done I turned around to see all the kind words written on the board. I couldn’t help but turn red as a small crept onto my face. For the rest of the day I felt really appreciated and happy. I want to thank Dr. Perry and the students for the wonderful words they wrote about me. Dr. Perry wanted to show her gratitude towards me and this activity was perfect.” Written By: Jackie Heller

Click on the link to learn more about the Gratitude Activity found on Pinterest: http://in-the-corner.com/2013/01/16/have-a-student-sit-on-chair-in-front-of-white-board-and-have-others-write-a-positive-phrase-about-them-then-take-a-picture-dont-let-them-see-it-till-they-get-the-photo-such-a-great-end-of-the-y/

Another student who was really influenced by gratitude and decided to implement the tip of creating a joy jar wants to tell her story. To read more, click HERE.

Note: You can even use your phone to express your gratitude! Check out the video below.

Other Resources: How to create a gratitude jar:


Oprah’s Guide to Gratitude:



Kruger, S. (2014). 20 simple ways to show appreciation. Zen family habits: simple happiness. http://www.zenfamilyhabits.net/2009/12/20-simple-ways-to-show-appreciation

Wynne, P. (2013). 7 tips to cultivate gratitude. Live Science. http://www.livescience.com/25900-7-tips-gratitude-happiness.html

Journal of Science (2008).

Blog written by: Jackie Heller and Dr. Tara Perry

Leave a comment

Joy Jar: Small paper slips of joy make a big difference



Photo credit: Dian Jaquay

What are you thankful for? About three years ago I began a practice called the Joy Jar. It came from a photo that some friends of mine had shared on Facebook. Now, sitting on my bedroom windowsill is an old glass milk jug. This is my Joy Jar. Instead of holding milk, this jug holds little scraps of paper upon which I have written happy thoughts, good memories, and anything I am grateful for. When something good happens in my life, I write it down, and add it to my little collection. These thoughts range from running into friends at dinner, to simply seeing the moon or stars at night. When I am upset I retreat to my room and shake a few slips out of my jug, and remind myself of the beauty of my life. Doing so helps me find things to be grateful for when I am unhappy. Since starting my Joy Jar, I have found that I appreciate things that I once took for granted-things like the smell of the forest after a rainstorm, or having a roommate who introduces me to new television programs. I also find myself saying “thank you” to people for things that I used to hardly notice, like picking up litter on the sidewalk. Practicing the Joy Jar helps me appreciate the life I live, and it causes me to look forward to New Years, when I shake out all of the paper scraps, and relish in a year well lived. Neil Ingerman


A student was affected by the idea of a joy jar. Read what she decided to do:

“According to Echart Tolle, “Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance (Tolle, 2005).” Numerous studies have shown that gratitude can have copious amounts of positive effects on our mental, emotional, and even physical health. The appreciation, or acknowledgment, of the positive things in our life, in turn makes us feel more optimistic about every aspect of our lives. Mothers day recently passed, and I was blessed enough to be able to express my gratitude for all that my mom has been and done for me. For my Interpersonal Communication class with Dr. Perry at Western Washington University we created “Joy Jars” in which we place positive notes for our less than joyful days. For mothers day I opted for my own rendition of the “Joy Jar”. In foam stickers I wrote, “joy” “love you”, and “2014”. Inside on bright slips of paper, I wrote reasons I am thankful for my mom, happy memories we have shared, and some of my favorite parts of my mom. Upon receiving it she called me full of joy and appreciation for all of the little “thank you” notes that filled her jar. That jar now sits on her nightstand filling her dark days with little rays of sunshine. Nothing could make me happier than knowing that her days are even slightly brighter because of that jar.”-Samantha Stahle

Check out what Kid President has to say about his experience with joy jars:

Helpful Resource:

How do you actually create a joy Jar?: http://www.mykidsadventures.com/jar-of-joy


Tolle, E. (2005). A new earth: Awakening to your life’s purpose. Penguin.

Written By: Neil Ingerman, Samantha Stahle

Edited By: Jackie Heller and Tara B. Perry

Leave a comment

Austin Jenckes Visit to WWU! Part I

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

jessica & austin

Photo Credit: Cody Greene

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

Photo Credit: Jessica Ramirez

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

Photo Credit: Jessica Ramirez

Photo Credit: Jessica Ramirez

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

%d bloggers like this: