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Department of Communication

Alumni Updates

To: Speech, Communication Studies, and Mass Communication alumni. We want to hear about your adventures here when you were a student! Send your stories, recollections, and pictures (jpeg) to Darlene Littleton dlittle3@montevallo.edu (205) 665-6625. We’ll post as many as we can as we receive them. Be sure to include the year you graduated and your major. If you send a group shot, please identify everyone…if you remember!

2010s

CLASS OF 2013

Neal Embry (BA, MC, Print Journalism) I worked for The Jonesboro Sun, a daily newspaper in Northeast Arkansas, from July 2016 to June 2018, covering multiple counties and writing a variety of stories. I won a second-place award from the Arkansas Press Association for healthcare reporting, and covered several stories that were picked up by statewide and national outlets. I recently moved back to my hometown of Vestavia Hills, where I’m working for Starnes Publishing, based out of Homewood. I primarily cover Vestavia for the Vestavia Voice, but also contribute content for our other six publications, which covers a large portion of the Birmingham-metro area. I’m also engaged to Destiny Brown, with a wedding date set for January 12, 2019.

2000s

CLASS OF 2008

Morgan Bell (BA, MC, Broadcast Journalism) PR Advisor for WestJet Airlines (WJA) in Calgary. Loved working and getting to know fellow students along with my professors in small class settings – we had a lot of laughs in the broadcast room and in front of the green screen. Fondly remember making my senior project in design class – I did a media guide for the golf team (which I was part of) I actually still have it printed out it’s quite a masterpiece (in my opinion). I also remember getting halfway through it (days of work) when all the computers in the lab went black and I lost the entire project and had to start over. It’s crazy that I graduated 10 years ago!! After graduating I played professional golf for a few years before getting a communications job with Golf Canada. I then moved to Hockey Canada where I was the Manager of Media & Public Relations and worked at the 2018 Olympic Games in South Korea with Canada’s Women’s Olympic Hockey Team as their media representative.

CLASS OF 2007

Portia Ann Mason(BS, MC) My time at Montevallo was the best time of my life. I loved all my classes. My favorite was my commercial writing class. I enjoyed our news broadcast class. Great times and wonderful memories. After leaving the University of Montevallo I was employed at Montevallo Elementary School as an Instructional and Special Education Aide. I was there for 10 years and left in November of 2017. I also work at the Alabaster YMCA as a front desk staff, summer camp counselor, and learn and play attendant. I only work there part time now because I currently work as an Imaging Assistant at Children’s of Alabama south campus. I enjoy working with children, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

CLASS OF 2006

Greg Funderburg (BA, MC, Broadcast Journalism) Weekday Morning/Noon Anchor at the ABC affiliate in Chattanooga, TN. I really enjoyed my time at Montevallo because it was a small environment. The smaller classes allowed me to have one on one interaction with my professors and develop good relationships with my peers. It was the best experience and I would do it over again.

CLASS OF 2003       

Eric SanInocencio (BA, MCSenior Director of Digital Media, Houston Texans.

Gene Twilley (BA, COMS, minor in Phil & Rel) I remember that Dr. Sam Simone would start every semester with the “name game,” where everyone would introduce themselves alliteratively. He would always start with, “I am the delightful Dr. Simone.” I’ve actually used “the name game” to remember people’s names in my own head, but I usually use something outrageous so that a name sticks in my mind (Hairy Harry, Bulbous Brian, etc.). I am now working for the Coalition for Christian Outreach (ccojubilee.org) as the Staff Director for the Philadelphia Metro and East Area. Married to Laura Beth Harris Twilley (BFA, ’04), with three kids, living in Media, PA.

CLASS OF 2000

Kristin Thompson Scroggin (BA, COMS) I got my Master’s Degree in Communication Studies from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. I was a Communication Arts Full Time Lecturer at the University of Alabama in Huntsville from 2006 until May of 2018. I officially launched my business, genWHYCommunication Strategies, this year. We study, train, and present on generational diversity in the American Workplace and have worked with many big companies. My business partner is actually Heather Curl Lebishack who was my roommate at Montevallo. You can learn more about what we do at www.genwhycommunications.com  I would say one big memory of the Montevallo Communication Department comes from my time spent in Dr. Sam Simone’s courses. I hadn’t done very well during my Sophomore year and was struggling as a Music Education Major. The first compliment I had received in over two years came from Dr. Simone after I gave a speech. He said, “You speak just like one of the Kennedy’s.” I was SOLD after that and changed my major shortly thereafter. Today I speak for a living across the country, and so much of my current life stems from one nice thing + the additional educators I had as a student at Montevallo. I also remember vividly when Dr. Jon Radwan came to our Department and how cool it was to have a brilliant Rhetoric and Argumentation teacher who I could also catch playing with his band at the Underground on 50-cent wing night. He introduced me to the field of Training & Development which is my bread and butter today. I was blessed to have had an amazing internship in PR with one of THE best possible mentors, the late Cynthia Shackleford and her amazing assistant, Marsha Littleton. So much of my success as an Instructor at UAH, I attribute to the fantastic examples I had and that one Spring day when I received that compliment from Dr. Simone. He set a standard for me as a teacher to actively find where students were successful and FREELY offering praise to those students. I feel like I was taught by the BEST in all areas of my Communication degree and do not regret one minute, or one dime, that was spent on my education at Montevallo!

1990s

1980s

CLASS OF 1988

Bob Boyer (BS, MC) News Production Manager, WZDX-TV, Huntsville. I was the first student to receive a Mass Comm Student of the year award. I worked on the local newscast as well as the sports broadcasts including basketball and volleyball.  We worked out of the barn and spent one year running cables from the old gym to the barn so that the shows could be directed and switched from there as opposed to the electric bread truck that was being used when I started.  I learned editing, shooting, graphic design, directing and producing in my time in the dept. I have been married for 30 years to my wife Ramona who I met while at Montevallo. We have two daughters who are both in college currently.

Tim Lupinacci (BA, MC) Tim graduated from the Vanderbilt University School of Law in 1991. He is a shareholder at the law firm of Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz, the 57th largest law firm in the U.S., with more than 750 attorneys and public policy advisors across 22 offices.  Tim is currently chair of Baker Donelson’s Financial Services Department, a member of the Firm’s Board of Directors and former office managing shareholder for the Birmingham office. He serves on the Firm’s Diversity Committee and previously served as co-chair of Baker Donelson’s Women’s Initiative Pathways to Leadership Committee.  His practice primarily involves representation of lenders in workout and bankruptcy of defaulted healthcare loans.  He is currently a member of the University of Montevallo’s Board of Trustees.  He and his wife Ellen (UM undergraduate degree in 1988; UM Master’s degree in 1989) live in Vestavia, Alabama and have a 19-year old daughter studying Special Education at Samford. 

CLASS OF 1985

Joey Bunch (BA, CA) Deputy Managing Editor, Senior Writer and Columnist for Colorado Politics, a website and statewide weekly magazine. Martha Crocker, George Codone, John Johnson, and Joe Naish — that was my team. We spent hours and hours and hours putting the paper out and counting on one another to get the copy from the typesetter, the pages to the printer and the papers to the racks around campus. We each pulled our weight, because, unspoken, we knew we owed that to one another. Everyone worked so hard to make it the best it could be. And we stuck together, though I was the one who usually did the dumb thing that had to be defended. Every accomplishment I have is theirs. It has to be. Martha taught me to have compassion, my greatest asset as a journalist and as a person. George is my example of how to be thorough and focused, which I wasn’t good at it. Moreover, you don’t get anywhere without devotion, commitment and hard work. I learned that late at night in The Alabamian office inside The Tower — fitting, because it’s towered over my life and my career. I’ve had a 32-year career in journalism, including newspapers in Alabama, Florida and Mississippi, as well as a stint at CNN and 14 years at the Denver Post. I’ve been lucky enough to be a five-time Pulitzer nominee, two-time finalist and shared the Pulitzer in 2013 with a team that covered the Aurora theater shooting in 2012. I also was recognized for coverage of Sandy Hook shooting that year.

Julie A. Mezzell (BS, Speech) I am a Team Member and Life Insurance Specialist for a State Farm Agent in Pelham, AL. I remember the Mass Comm department being in the house in the middle of campus. The old building had lots of character! Great Days!

CLASS OF 1983

David Reed (BA, MC) I am in my 17th year in Law Enforcement, serving as a Juvenile Detention Officer with Shelby County, AL. I enjoy playing Bluegrass Mandolin in my spare time, and I’m also an Amateur Radio Operator.

CLASS OF 1982

Patricia Carr Connell (BS, MC) When I was a student in Mass Comm, I remember we had classes in the old dairy barn. We had TK 42 cameras in the studio. I also remember when Dr. Scott was a graduate student working on his master’s degree at UM. I had a radio production class with Dr. Scott.  Faculty at the time I was a student were: Karl Perkins, Ray Sosa, Larry Smith and George Inzer. I also have an M.A. in Communication (Speech and Theatre) which I completed in 1987. I have been a Speech Comm. instructor at Gadsden State Community College in Gadsden, AL since September 1993. Before coming to GSCC, I worked in both radio broadcasting and journalism.  I also worked for the Alabama Forestry Commission as an Information and Education Specialist in Huntsville.

CLASS OF 1980

Bett Rutledge (BS, MC) I am currently a US Administrative Law Judge in Philadelphia, PA, with the Office of Hearings Operations for the Social Security Administration.

1970s

CLASS OF 1977

Pam Moore (BA, MCI think 1977 was the first Mass Comm graduation class. I have remained in communications my entire career and have a business that markets safety communications programs to utilities, so my degree led me up my career path.

CLASS OF 1976

Diane Rathbun (BS, Speech/Theatre) Visiting Lecturer in COMS/Public Speaking, McNeese State University. Mass Comm was in a building “down the hill” while Communication had classes in Reynolds, I seem to recall. It was considered one department while Mass Comm continued their quest to break away. They were right, of course. MCOM is different from Communication. It took a few years but we finally got the separation and each grew stronger in their respective fields. I wish I had pictures!! For some reason, it didn’t occur to us to document our journeys and experiences. No one took selfies or video. It was the era without YouTube and Facebook. How I would love to see those faces again. Tell the students to document!! Keep those photos with your memories because you will look back one day and cherish those moments.

1960s

CLASS OF 1967

Richard Bryan (A.B. Speech with extensive theatre training) I am in retirement and volunteering in community efforts.  I am currently recovering from pacer/defibulator surgery and doing well.

1950s

CLASS OF 1952

Dorothy “Dot” Jean Davis Moore(Speech/Dramatics, minor in history) Both have enriched my life as I was once a high school teacher of voice and diction and directed the high school plays. I also worked with the Montgomery, Alabama Little Theatre. My years at Montevallo were important in training me to write and do research. It is, and was, a great four-year college. Now that I am older, I have found HISTORY to be my major interest. I write and research subjects of interest.  I have two books of popularity. My book, Oracle of the Ages, is a biography of a Georgia hill-country fortune teller, Mayhayley Lancaster. It is now in paperback, after the three printings of hardback books were sold out!  I am now working on Alabama native, World Championship Boxer, Joe Louis.

1940s

CLASS OF 1949

Joyce Levi (BA, Speech) I graduated from high school in 1945 at the age of 16. My drama teacher urged me to enter the speech and dramatics program at Alabama College, which was a state college for women at that time.  I did just that, and began to blossom. I was very shy, but I was cast in a number of plays, including some male roles since this was an all-girls school. After graduation in 1949, I  was in several repertory companies and eventually returned to Birmingham where I worked for many years in radio as sales executive, program manager, copy writer, disk jockey (Sunday afternoons, plus a stint from midnight to 6 a.m.) and talk show hostess, moving from WBRC to WCRT to WJLD to WSGN.