Skip to main content

Communications Graduate Abbie Speed Reflects on Lessons Learned at BYU

Speed — a native of Denver, Colorado — will graduate with a BA in communications with an emphasis in communications studies on April 24, 2020

Abbie Speed’s road to graduation wasn’t a smooth one. After switching majors many times, transferring schools and maneuvering her way through health struggles, she finally found her place in communications studies. “I had intended to minor in communications since my experience in the introduction classes gave me a passion for the field, but none of the disciplines within the department spoke to me,” Speed said. “Then — thanks to divine intervention, no doubt — the communications studies major opened up just as I was about to declare the minor.” Speed moved to Utah as a transfer student and battled health challenges during her first year at BYU, often missing classes while taking her GE courses. “I felt lost and I jumped between majors like I was playing a game of Frogger,” said Speed. “It was chaotic.” After taking Mass Communication and Society (COMMS 101) from Jessica Zurcher, Speed discovered her place at BYU and things finally began to make sense. “It was like my life just settled into place,” Speed said. “I got medical care and worked with the accessibility office to make changes in my schedule, and my health drastically improved.”

As Speed progressed through her major, doors opened for experiential learning opportunities, such as a study abroad in New Zealand where she was able to build her portfolio and experience the country’s beauty. “It was a thrilling experience to explore that gorgeous place and envelop myself in the rich culture, art and history there,” Speed said. “I was also able to piece together videos, blog posts and digital artwork from my work there to add to my portfolio. It was the highlight of my life.” The communications studies major also helped Speed strengthen her weaknesses and build compassion and understanding for her peers. “In the communications major, I have come across many situations to practice listening and engaging in an open — but respectful — dialogue with people who disagree with me,” said Speed. “If everyone in the world would take the time to respectfully listen, perhaps we could eliminate unnecessary hate.” During her time in the major, Speed has relied on her strengths in writing and public speaking and has fine-tuned her research skills while working on a variety of projects.

“Communications is such a relevant field in the media-driven world we live in,” Speed said. “It's very exciting to be on the ground floor diving behind-the-scenes of that world.“ Although she plans to begin BYU’s graduate program in mass communications in the fall — and perhaps work towards becoming a professor one day — Speed does not want to plan out her life with too much certainty. “If there's anything I've learned in college, it's that my plans only tide me over until the Lord puts His own into play,” Speed said. When asked if she had any advice for new communications majors, Speed encouraged them to take advantage of all their resources. “College is a hard and turbulent time; there is a lot of pressure and uncertainty,” Speed said. “But you aren’t alone. There are so many resources available through TAs, professors, advisors and fellow students. Don't be afraid to reach out to those around you, because they might need your support just as much as you need theirs.” Q&A WITH ABBIE SPEED, BA ‘20 COMMUNICATIONS | COMMUNICATIONS STUDIES What did you want to be when you grew up?

“I thought I would be a famous author someday. I suppose that's still an option, though I doubt I'll ever be the next J.K. Rowling.” What was your favorite class that you took at BYU? “Water Aerobics. For those of us with joint issues — or for those who just hate getting overheated while working out — water aerobics is a fantastic form of exercise, and the music and instructors are just so fun. I would recommend it to anyone!” Is there a specific work or practitioner in your field that has had a particularly strong influence on you? “I have worked very closely with the communications studies faculty, and all of them have influenced and inspired me in their own way. I want to be Kevin John someday, with his confidence and his ability to connect with his students and make them feel comfortable. I want to be as kind and put-together as Jessica Zurcher. I hear her voice in my head guiding me and encouraging me in what to say when I am trying to comfort or calm someone. I want to be as knowledgeable as Clark Callahan, who just seems to have an endless fountain of knowledge — and a fantastic sense of humor to make that knowledge applicable. I want to be as balanced as Scott Church, who mixes humor and pop culture into his lectures, making for a perfectly professional, but engaging approach to teaching. All of these professors have inspired me to become a better student, leader and person.” Do you have a hobby outside of what you do for your major? “Communications studies is a great major for me because it allows a decent amount of creative freedom for me to apply those hobbies. I love to write short stories. I am an artist and musician and I adore taking things apart and putting them back together. I'm a bit obsessed with puzzles and creating murder mystery games. I am a video game enthusiast, and I read way too many novels.” What is your favorite snack for between classes? “I don't usually eat between classes, but when I do remember to grab a snack, I like to munch on pecans before my exercise classes.”