Students from the Communication, Journalism and Media (CJM) Department at Shippensburg University can be found all over: behind cameras at sporting events and graduation, in the press box, as interns for media companies and governmental agencies. Whether reporting on them or working them, CJM is within every part of our community. Through it all, Carrie Sipes is there to support every student in the department and beyond.
Sipes wears many hats throughout her day. She is not only the CJM Department chair, but also the advisor for the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter and a professor of public relations at Shippensburg University.
“I am anticipating the academic year with hopefulness and excitement,” Sipes said as she noted that this is her 17th year at Shippensburg University. This year is particularly important as the CJM department is up for reaccreditation.
SU’s CJM Department is one of three in Pennsylvania to be accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC), first gaining this commendation back in 2011.
This semester, the department will host three ACEJMC representatives from Oct. 22 to 25. For this visit, Sipes has been contributing to a self-study of the department and has had the opportunity to “reflect on all of the amazing accomplishments of students, faculty and staff.”
“There’s so much that makes this program special, but it really comes down to the people in it,” Sipes said as she spoke about the department’s achievements. “We’re joiners, doers.”
The SU CJM department has been awarded grants, including a $200,000 Solutions Journalism Network to educate and empower central Pennsylvanians to find ways to solve issues brought about by climate change.
More than 130 CJM students have completed internships since 2017 at places including WHTM-TV ABC 27, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, WITF and several others.
In addition, CJM students have won several awards. Since 2017, around 30 students have won college production awards from the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences with Shippensburg University Television (SUTV). Over 20 students have won Keystone Media Awards with The Slate. Students in SU’s PRSSA chapter have been recognized nationally on multiple occasions as a star chapter, a selective recognition.
SU’s CJM Department is a professionally focused program that allows students to get hands-on experience from day one. CJM majors work hard for its student media programs through SUTV, The Slate, WSYC 88.7 FM and PRSSA.
To Sipes, these groups “are pathways to professions.” It is where students learn how to write, interview, edit, produce and develop so many other skills that are valuable to their lives after college.
“I am continuously impressed by the commitment students have to their work with student media and their fierce independence,” Sipes said. Students in student media spend many hours, on top of classes, part-time jobs, and other commitments, to ensure weekly upkeep of their respective websites and projects.
When students cover home football and basketball games, they show up for crew call at 9:00 a.m., and the work does not end when the game does. This is what Sipes calls commitment, something she is no stranger to.
Sipes begins her day with her family before coming to campus. Then she prepares for class, sends emails and works with the department graduate assistant to discuss the equipment room.
After this, Sipes prepares department reports and special projects before she attends meetings for the CJM department and advisory council. She coordinates transfer student schedules, works with the social media team for department content, communicates with faculty, solves student problems and answers more emails.
Sipes advises students for internships, jobs and graduate schools. She reviews requests for changes of majors or minors, overrides, independent studies and individualized instructions. She drinks lots of coffee as she tries to make progress on her research agenda.
Then Sipes grades projects and reviews professional project proposals for graduate students before meeting with prospective families. Sipes makes students, faculty and staff feel valued, advocates for student media and the department with the Dean’s and Provost’s offices and works with the amazing PRSSA students.
Sipes is a professor, mentor, researcher, mother and advocate for her students and department.
“I’m looking forward to helping students achieve their goals this year,” Sipes said. “I hope they will see that there is opportunity and demand for their skills, experiences and perspectives.”
Sipes’ commitment to Shippensburg University and its Department of Communication, Journalism and Media runs deep; she graduated with both her Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication and Master of Science in Communication Studies from Shippensburg University.
To students at Shippensburg University, know that you will always have a supporter in Carrie Sipes. As she said, “Let your voice be heard.”