Outstanding Graduates Communication Studies
Kyle Mayl & Lauren Petersen
Kyle Mayl '21 is a careful listener, deep thinker, and gifted writer. He not only has the academic gravitas to impress professors, but also a heart of gold. As a teaching and research assistant, he has demonstrated PhD-level work, acting truly as a colleague in these positions rather than as a student. Kyle is committed to seeing the image of God in the people around him. He asks good questions and engages others thoughtfully, whether in the classroom with professors and peers, in the community facilitating deliberations and dialogues, or at Immigrant Hope where he interned.
Lauren Petersen '21 is not only a professor’s delight, she is a student’s delight. Professors love her assertive yet receptive mind, and her compassionate, well-reasoned voice, especially for racial justice. She has also developed a talent for seeing systems nested within other systems. She is adaptable in her thinking, creative, and warm, and she is someone we can always count on. Because Lauren has been a tutor and occasional substitute teacher, students love her too. She comes alongside her peers in sensitive and innovative ways, even improving professors’ assignments!
Kaylee Hicks '20, senior of the year in communication studies, is a pursuer of truth, a rigorous discerner in class discussions, and a most dependable student. She does not shy away from raising questions and challenging prevailing flows of thought, yet also challenges and dissents in welcoming ways and with a humble spirit. Her ability to mentor younger students and create hospitable spaces in and beyond the classroom make her a truly ethical communicator and scholar. Kaylee has certainly made her mark on Westmont! She participated in Potter’s Clay all four years, growing in her leadership each year, serving on the core team, leading ministries, and serving as publicity manager. Her love of the Spanish language and Mexican culture led her to study abroad in Querétaro, Mexico, where she found it “a joy and a privilege to become more fluent and able to communicate competently with my host family, professors, and even Uber drivers!” In addition to her ministry and study abroad, Kaylee sang with the college choir and WOW (Women of Westmont, an a cappella vocal group). She’s also worked with the Conversation Café and served as an Orientation team leader and teaching assistant in communication research methods. Professor Lesa Stern says that Kaylee is particularly gifted in helping students clarify and pursue their research ideas while also encouraging them along the way. Kaylee says that her involvement in various ministries and discussion activities were especially valuable, as she cherished helping people feel seen, heard and known. She says that “this is, in large part, what prompted me to pursue a graduate degree in speech language pathology, where I can help to give the gift of communication to others so they are able to express themselves better and find a sense of belonging.”
Through Westmont Downtown, Rebekah Beeghly '19 served as the social media and communications intern at Youth Interactive, an afterschool entrepreneurial arts academy.
“She is curious, energetic, intellectually engaged, a superb question-asker, and flat-out funny,” says professor Deborah Dunn, chair of the communication studies department. “While she can be mischievous and often has a gleam in her eye, she also demonstrates incredible sensitivity toward others and is committed to pursuing mutual understanding, especially those involving high-stakes identity and justice.”
She was a member of Intercultural Programs, lead the Multi-Ethnic Student Association and wrote for the Features section of the Horizon. She studied abroad with Westmont in Jerusalem, served as president of Lambda Pi Eta, the Communication Studies National Honors Society, and directed Spring Sing skits in 2016 and 2018.
“While studying abroad, I found a love for Israel/Palestine and was able to learn a lot about myself, justice and conflict, and created some of my strongest and deepest friendships,” she says.
She hopes to publish a series of children’s books about race in the U.S. called “The United Shapes of America.”
Hannah Belk '18, who hopes to pursue a career in mediation and work with groups in conflict, served as a residence assistant, a member of the National Communication Association’s honor society, and worked with racial reconciliation on campus. She is a meticulous and careful researcher, studying FOX News and their portrayal of black men in police shootings, the relationship between grit and gratitude in college students, and assisted research on dialogue and deliberation. She walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain during an off-campus program and studied with Westmont in Jerusalem.
Rebekah Wong '17 combines an exacting attentiveness to empirical research with a bold imagination and a cosmopolitan sensibility. Because she is at home in both the social sciences and the humanities, she consistently comes to original insights that are rigorously supported by her nuanced and subtle reading of quantitative data. She does this while humbly engaging new or startling ideas, asking what is worthy in a new perspective and what she may learn. Rebekah is also known for her spirit of hospitality – in and out of the classroom, she walks multiple cultures well, creating spaces that are joyously alive with faith, hope, and love.
Matt Pace '16 has consistently distinguished himself with thoughtful and thorough work. In addition to his impressive essays on issues related to authenticity, he demonstrates a talent for conflict analysis and a heart for participating in the work of reconciliation. On a study abroad program, one faculty noted, “...what especially marked Matt’s work was his willingness to confront difficult issues at an existential level and his ability to hold in tension conflicting outlooks.” We have appreciated Matt’s admirable work ethic, his calm and generous presence in the classroom, and his abundant gratitude.
Peter Matthews '15 invites those around him to join him in preparing and celebrating the delights of scholarship as an intellectual feast. Peter’s intellectual palate is as sophisticated as it is cosmopolitan. He combines a tremendous ability to judge the piquancy and richness of the best of rhetorical theory and criticism with an equally extraordinary openness to savoring a remarkable range of ideas across the liberal arts. Peter’s formidable erudition is enough on its own to distinguish his scholarship and accomplishments, but what makes him special is the manner in which his talents are an occasion for a Carnivalesque revelry in rigorous and yet charitable, serious and yet joyful, profound and yet comedic intellectual banquet.