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Panel To Bring Together Professionals For 'Soft Skill' Discussion

Oct. 2, 2012
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

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An emerging issue voiced as a concern among employers today is the lack of interpersonal and soft communication skills of young adults trying to enter the job market, according to Terri Jaggers, an adjunct professor in Sam Houston State University’s communication studies department.

“Employers have identified the ‘i-Y Generation,’ with their social command center at their fingertips, as dependent on their iPhone, iPads, iPods, texting/tweeting, and Facebook to the extent that they have not matured in emotional intelligence levels of previous generations,” Jaggers said.

“Studies indicate the new 18 is now 26 years of age. This generation has diminished abilities in interpersonal skills including negotiation, compromise, and respectful face-to-face debate,” she continued. “It is believed that technology has stunted our youth’s emotional intelligence by providing ‘ignore,’ ‘block,’ and ‘defriend’ options where face-to-face interpersonal communications would otherwise result in stronger communication skills.”

To address this issue, Jaggers created a communications study course, “Community Applied Communication,” which is piloting this fall.

In addition to standard lectures, however, Jaggers has created a series of panel discussions that will incorporate 27 high-level professionals from various backgrounds, who will speak not only to her class but to the public as well.

The series of three discussions will kick off on Oct. 18, from 12:30-2 p.m. in the Lowman Student Center Theater.

Addressing topics such as career trends and barriers, as well as the preparation needed to pursue a career in their field, the first “Playing Hardball in a Soft Skill Game” discussion will include panelists ranging from a former FBI undercover agent, to business, political, military, and non-profit organization executives.

These panelists include Leonard Carroll, U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Corps investigator; Irene Clements, child advocate and president of the National Foster Parent Association; Curtis Dumesnil, chief executive officer of The Anthony Search Group, a global talent-acquisition firm; Texas Rep. Rob Eissler; Adam Jaggers, entrepreneur and former national tumbling champion; Col. Howard L. Kravetz, retired U.S. Air Force officer and Panorama Village mayor; Al LaRose, owner of Special Logistics, LLC, delivery company; Britt Mayo, retired chief information officer for the Pennzoil Company; and Kathy Schenck, owner of the Warwick Search Group.

“More and more corporations around the world recognize that, in order to gain a competitive advantage, they need to make sure their people know how to handle themselves at work and how to relate with their customers and peers,” Jaggers said.

“The successful individuals that will be available in this series will provide firsthand knowledge and information that will allow our SHSU i-Y generation, as well as anyone currently seeking employment or advancement in their current employment, an up-close look at what it takes to stand out and increase your value in today’s highly competitive economic climate,” she said.

The second panel, on Oct. 25, will include experts in the areas of business, politics, education, criminal justice and the media.

They are Nelda Luce Blair, chair of The Woodlands Township; U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady; Texas Rep. Brandon Creighton; Mark Garay, owner of CodeMark Productions, a company that specializes in “documarketing;” Rick Jaramillo, senior vice president, region executive for global corporate social responsibility, and market president network with Bank of America; Guy Martin, Conroe mayor pro tem; Tommy Metcalf, former Conroe mayor; James Noack, Montgomery County commissioner; and Crystyl Mary Swanson, sales/marketing executive for the Mars Coporation’s drinks division.

The final panel will be on Nov. 1 and will include panelists from the healthcare, criminal justice, government, non-profit, and political science fields.

They include Judge Eric Andell, former deputy under secretary with the U.S. Secretary of Education; Laura Buntin Livingston, assistant director of the Clinical Learning Resource Center at Texas A&M Health Science Center; Philip Dupuis, chief of police for the Conroe Police Department; Judge Robert Eckels, attorney and former Harris County judge; Leshia Fisher, program director for Child Protective Services for Walker, Waller, Liberty, Chambers, Galveston, and Montgomery counties; Andy Kahan, victims’ rights advocate; Ann McAlpin, executive director of CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County; William “Bill” McGraph, with Memorial Herman health communications; and Judge Alan B. Sadler, Montgomery County judge.

Also as part of the communication studies course, these professionals will work with a student in Jaggers’s class on their “first impression,” assess their interviewing and soft communication skills, and provide future networking guidance.

“I am very excited about this course, the opportunities it has already provided to my students, as well as the extended benefits provided to SHSU and the future success of SHSU students,” Jaggers said.

For more information on the “Playing Hardball in a Soft Skill Game” series, contact Jaggers at tej003@shsu.edu or 936.294.4318.



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