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Communication Department Expansion Focuses on Digital Careers

Three students with notebook and laptop sitting at a table

Additions in Emporia State’s Communication program expand on the department’s communication, emerging technology and society concentration that was introduced in fall 2020.

“The emerging technology and society concentration prepares students for careers that are rapidly increasing both in number and demand, such as digital content manager and social media analyst,” said Dr. Heidi Hamilton, professor of communication and chair of the Department of Communication and Theatre.

Two specific additions come as Emporia State University continues to elevate and reimagine its future. The department will:

  • Add a full-time instructor (non-tenure track)
  • Create a social media influencing certificate

The new instructor will be hired on a three-year contract and will have the expertise to allow the department to offer classes in content creation, digital video, virtual reality and gaming/interactive media.

The new social media influencing certificate recognizes that influencer marketing is a growing industry, expected to be worth more than $16 billion in 2022, according to the “Influencer Marketing Benchmark Report.”

The certificate program would be open to any students on campus who want to create or grow a productive online presence in their chosen field. Members of the Emporia community who want to expand the online presence of their small businesses or organizations could also benefit from the program.

Payton Lapinski, who graduated in fall 2021 with a communication degree and the emerging technology and society concentration, recognized the importance of studying new technology.

“The Emerging Technology and Society concentration prepared me to successfully enter the rapidly growing field of social media management and digital communication, and I am so grateful for what I learned in my classes,” Lapinski said. “When I graduated, I was well equipped to handle the demands of my job field, and I was more than prepared for ever-changing landscape of the digital world.”

Lapinski serves as social media specialist for The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, the largest Methodist church in the United States. She manages their social media and assists with other digital communication, including e-newsletters, website pages and blogs.

The expanded emerging technology and society concentration joins three other concentrations in the communication department:

  • Leadership Communication
  • Organizational Communication
  • Public Relations

The department also offers a bachelor of science in education degree in secondary speech/theatre communication for those who want to teach at the middle and high school level.

“The ESU communication faculty,” Hamilton said, “is dedicated to not only preparing students for today’s careers but providing them the skills and knowledge to succeed in tomorrow’s careers.”

For more information about Emporia State’s investments in education programs, see, which includes a video from Dr. Heidi Hamilton, professor of communication and chair of the Department of Communication and Theatre.