Casey DiBari & Taylor Viles – Opinion Editor & 1851 Staff
Photos Courtesy of Michael Maruk
On March 10, the School of Communication and the Arts held their annual networking day, which this year was rebranded as SoCA Day. As a custom, the event took place in DeWitt Hall and was attended by a slew of communication students filing in for different panels throughout the day.
The day was restructured this year in hopes to attract more students and create a better overall event both for the Lasell community and for the honored guests. “We found that attendance has not been fabulous from students which has been very frustrating for us,” said Associate Dean of Communications Meryl Perlson. “We thought if we concentrated it more, it would potentially bring more students out.”
Instead of starting bright and early at 9 a.m., Lasell didn’t schedule the first event, the keynote speaker, until 1 p.m. “It’s certainly cost-saving to be able to have it for half a day… We’re all trying to button our budgets,” said Perlson. “We’re…trying to hit on virtually every area in the school.”
Much to the chagrin of the SoCA Day planners, an unforeseen obstacle came into the equation late: COVID-19 (the Coronavirus). Many chairs were left empty during each talk and they are unsure if that was what prompted students to stay in their dorms. “It could just be the time right now with the Coronavirus and people just staying away from large crowds,” said senior Volunteer Coordinator Rosa Del Carmen Gomez. “I don’t know why some com[munication] majors didn’t attend.”
Another change from last year is the name, as students around campus struggled to remember the acronym “SoCA” and instead referred to the half-day event as “COM Day.” Perlson says the change was made to reflect the whole department and to ensure all communication students felt represented. “SoCA is the acronym that’s been used internally. We didn’t come up with anything else really quickly,” she said. “But the bigger issue is that one of the advantages of our school is that we do combine the strategy, the writing, the theory, all those strong aspects of communication along with design in one place. It’s a synergy that you see all the time in the industry…It was really important for us to showcase that this year.”
As for the day itself, the theme this year was Communication by Design, with a heavy emphasis on digital content and graphic design.
The keynote speaker was Managing Editor for Digital at The Boston Globe Jason Tuohey and the distinguished speaker was Vanessa Wojtusiak, a Lasell ‘07 graduate who is now vice president for iHeartRadio Connecticut.
Other panelists included Christian Merfeld, director of communications for Boston Harbor Now, and Aaron Pickering, director of the brand strategy for FIRST. The two ran a panel on mission-driven branding as well as public relations.
Creative Directors Roland Atema and Yvette Perulo for Merryfield PBC and Bartlett Interactive, respectively, and Michelle Sellinger, a senior UX designer for VitalSource also had their own panel focused on their work with creativity.
Along with the professionals brought in this year, SoCA Day found a strong panel of alumni to finish the day off with. The panel included 2019 graduates Megan Plumbo and Tom Baker, 2018 graduate Tyler Hetu and many others. They spoke about their time at Lasell and offered bits of advice to the students in attendance.
“It’s hard to explain in words, but it’s always been a dream to get an opportunity like this,” said Baker about coming back. He mentioned he always wanted to be on the alumni panel for this day and added he was glad Associate Professor of Journalism Marie Franklin helped make it happen.
Senior Skylar Diamond praised the alumni panel, saying she appreciates that their average age is only a couple years older than current students which makes them and their experiences more relatable. “Having them just reconfirm the fact of ‘you’ll make it, you will succeed and you [can] come out of college alive’ is definitely helpful.”