What I learned in College: Communication and Self Transcendence

My name is Sol Morales

After graduating from high school in my natal Lima, Peru, I knew I wanted to get a higher education in something that truly interested me. Advertising commercials had always caught my attention. More than the product itself, I had a fascination with the storytelling, the emotions I felt as I experienced the product from a TV screen. I learned there was someone behind imagining and directing those scenes. That day I decided I wanted to have that job.

Advertising seemed to me like the best way to be creative while studying and eventually finding a job I would love. The University of Tampa attracted me because of the different concentrations in Advertising and for being a small school where connections with student and professors would be better.

Four years later, I am graduating with a Communication major which I decided to pursue after realizing I am interested in much more than just advertising. I learned that communication is a powerful tool that can be used in a variety of ways for innovation and social change. My classes at the University of Tampa ranged from graphic design to art therapy, teaching me the importance of expressing my individual creativity and also using it for making an actual change.

My college experience has been the base of this personal understanding of Communication as a bridge that connects people from all walks in life. My studies in Communication found a meaningful source of inspiration in meditation and aesthetic principles. For this portfolio I have selected two bodies of work that changed my college experience and gave me a better understanding of what type of work I wish to be part of after graduation.

Communication and Meditation

The selected projects I have chosen for this final presentation, compile the most important insights I have gained from studying Communication. Language and culture are big parts of individual self-expression and communication. However, communication happens before debating about different languages and cultures.

For the purpose of my professional goals, I want to concentrate on what goes before any of that. Before any expressed word, image, or thought there is our mind making sense of the messages received on their own. Communication arises from personal insights, from our capacity of making sense of the outside world and being able to share our knowledge with others – our personal voice.

Art and meditation are ancient forms of human communication that aid in the development of our personal voice. Most communication studies emphasize on communicating to the masses with advertising or public relations, however, communication also happens within the self. Understanding the way we process communication is a good start to express ourselves as we truly are and feel.

In Fall semester 2017, I took COM 470 Communication Research Methods with Dr. Christopher Boulton. The class introduces students to communication research with the common practices of both quantitative and qualitative research. The major class project was to write a research proposal for an original study that included an abstract, an hypothesis, an introduction defining the problem and importance of the study, a literature review, an engagement with theory, and a thorough discussion of my intended methodologies for the data collection and analysis. Since we were to work with Dr. Boulton throughout the entire semester building this research proposal, I wanted to make it about something that was meaningful to me.

Meditation practice is not familiar to everybody, especially college students, yet it is proven to have some great mental and physical benefits. This was a great opportunity to learn about different meditation practice benefits and relate it to an environment I belonged to as a sophomore. It is expected from college students to have good grades and come to every class ready to debate. Ideally every semester for every student would go impecable, nonetheless, there are personal factors that influence performance and willingness to learn. If meditation is known to improve cognitive abilities and introducing this practice to students could affect positively their academic and emotional development, why not make it part of the college curriculum?

There is not enough scholarly research to support this specific action, therefore this research proposal stands for a real change in students mental health and performance. 

The scholarly articles cited in the research proposal, support the positive correlation between meditation and greater test scores. This study predicts than an specific Focused Attention (FA) meditation practice, would have greater benefit in students than having no meditation at all. I learned from this project that communciation research is a very thorough process in which every part is pivotal for the overall credibility and successful repetition. I believe that my research proposal is not only doable but also realistic. On the other hand, I could have gotten more information from actual (FA) meditation practitioners, this could have given me a more in-depth insight of the benefits and more precise direction of how to arrange the practice for the study.

This paper exhibits my ability to pursue alternative and innovative solutions for local issues.

Meaningless Letter, Meaningful Shapes 

The second piece of my portfolio, is a project I designed for ART 305: Graphic Design, with Professor Melissa Gridley. 

The assignment was called “Typographic Deconstruction”, it consisted of deconstructing letters and utilizing just their shape for design purposes. The first step was to select three letters of our choice that would be different in shape and font. The second step consisted of image research. Looking for inspiration everywhere, from the streets to magazines. Image research in graphic design is very important since it provides endless possibilities that your design could follow. After that, I had to compile the letter fonts into creative and random shapes. This part was very challenging since I had to detach sounds from each letter and just see them for what they truly are – shapes.

My letter fonts selection allowed me to have more flexibility in the compiled shapes. I chose the letters J,H, O, because of their different shapes provide and instinctual sense of transition and  structure. Once the compiled shapes passed revision and were summed up to 12 pieces, the final part of the project was to use these pieces to create radial patterns.

Designing radial patterns out of the 12 pieces was not as complicated as it may seem. By that time, I was so comfortable with the shapes design that it was very natural for me to get them to work together to form radial patterns. The most challenging work throughout all the design process is to make sure that everything is aligned. With this project not only I was able to find inspiration everywhere, but also improve my design ability to look at things from afar and recognize when there is a small piece that could be refined.

The warm colors selection is intended to maximize the experience of the shapes, inviting the viewer to engage with the flow of the design while also giving it an oriental look. 

The challenges I experienced with these two projects were strong enough to change my perspective and focus on my studies.

Every complex task requires a mindful construction that should be steady from the start until the end. The research proposal on meditation practices states the importance in slowing down in order to make better decisions. While the graphic design project taught me the importance of detaching myself from old structures, in order to create more creative and successful ones.

Good communication gets the message across but meaningful communication will get the message to stay. As a Communication graduate, I am very hopeful for the positive changes that can made with this science for the personal and collective development. There will always be room for improvement, yet I am grateful for these experiences that allowed me to understand the moving world around me and the impact that I can make today with thoughtful communication. 



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