About Auris Calvino, MA: Auris Calvino is the Communications Coordinator for the Digital Strategy and Marketing Department at the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW). As Coordinator, Ms. Calvino oversees website content for UIW, including SEO, online branding, and online marketing asset management. Prior to her current position, she served as a Graduate Assistant for the Digital Strategy and Marketing Department and as the Digital Marketing Coordinator for the Office of Admissions.
Ms. Calvino earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts with a specialization in Convergent Media from UIW. During her undergraduate enrollment, she worked as Communications Director for UIWtv, a role that allowed her to design visual and written communications to increase viewer engagement, produce and oversee online and social media content, and direct and produce segments for the weekly UIWtv broadcasts. She earned her Master of Arts in Communication Arts from UIW in 2019.
[MastersinCommunications.com] May we please have a brief description of your educational and professional background? What motivated you to earn your Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts (Convergent Media) and Master of Arts in Communication Arts at the University of the Incarnate Word? Could you describe your various positions at the University of the Incarnate Word, including your position as Communications Director for UIWtv, Digital Marketing Coordinator for the Office of Admissions, Graduate Assistant for Digital Strategy and Marketing, and most recently the Communications Coordinator for Digital Strategy & Marketing?
[Ms. Calvino] I was born and raised in Panama City, Panama. In 2009, I landed my first job in Digital Marketing as a social media manager for a Digital Marketing and Advertising agency in Panama. I was studying Marketing and Advertising, and this was a part-time job to help me pay for school. As soon as I began working at the agency, I discovered social media was more than a hobby for me.
In 2011, I had the opportunity to move to San Antonio, and while researching universities that offered communications and digital marketing, I found UIW’s Communication Arts program with a Convergent Media concentration. I needed to enroll in classes that taught me a little bit of everything, and this program had it all. I took classes such as journalism, writing for the media, technical writing, video production, social media, and design & layout for print and digital communications. All those classes gave me a set of skills that prepared me for the workforce.
I was able to first volunteer as a communications assistant for UIWtv, and then got hired as Communications Director, managing social media, the website and graphic design for them. While working at UIWtv, the Dean of Enrollment reached out to me via Twitter back in 2016. She requested a meeting with me to discuss her social media strategy plan, and after our meeting, due to my work as UIWtv Comms Director and what we discussed at the meeting, she offered me a job as a student worker, and I took it. Once I graduated, I was hired full-time as Digital Marketing Coordinator to manage the social media, graphic design and website for the UIW Office of Admissions.
A year later, I decided to pursue my master’s degree at UIW. My experience as an undergraduate student made it a no-brainer to decide to stay at UIW. Once I shared my intention with the Dean of Enrollment, I was offered a Graduate Assistant position under the Digital Strategy & Marketing department at UIW, in which they helped pay for my tuition, while I collaborated not only with the Office of Admissions doing the job I was already doing, but I also got the opportunity to work along with the rest of academic and essential departments at UIW creating content for their pages on the UIW website and other graphic publications.
Once I graduated with my Master’s, I was offered the position of Communications Coordinator at the Digital Strategy & Marketing department at UIW.
[MastersinCommunications.com] Why did you decide to pursue your Master of Arts in Communication Arts at the University of the Incarnate Word? What were your professional goals, and how did you see the Master of Arts program at UIW meeting them optimally?
[Ms. Calvino] Working with the Office of Admissions for two years helped me familiarize with all of the UIW graduate programs, but the Communication Arts program was the one that offered all the classes I consider would give me most of the skills I need for the field I am interested to continue building my career on: Digital Marketing. After graduating with my master’s degree from UIW, I feel extremely prepared to take on any project related to Communications and Digital Marketing. Combining my job experience and all the knowledge and skills I learned at UIW, I feel confident that there’s a bright future in Digital Marketing waiting for me. In addition to that, UIW is a tight-knit community, which allowed me to connect and build strong relationships with my colleagues and faculty.
[MastersinCommunications.com] How is the University of the Incarnate Word’s Master of Arts in Communication Arts program structured, and what concepts did the program emphasize? What skills and strategies did you learn in your classes, and how did you apply them to course assignments?
[Ms. Calvino] The Master of Arts in Communication Arts program at UIW has a very flexible structure that allows us students to choose from a variety of courses, which helps us focus on learning and improving our skills depending on the career we choose. In my case, since I had the intention to continue working in Digital Marketing, I chose to take classes like writing techniques, social media, graphic design, media ethics and research methods, among others. These classes allowed me to learn new techniques and reinforce all the knowledge I obtained during my undergraduate years.
I apply all of those techniques on a daily basis while working as Communications Coordinator for the Digital Strategy and Marketing department at UIW. My skills as content creator have noticeably improved thanks to the training I received as a graduate student at the Communication Arts department.
[MastersinCommunications.com] Could you please describe your experience completing your final capstone project? What communication issue or challenge did you explore, and what was the structure of your capstone project? What advice would you give current and future students of UIW’s Master of Arts in Communication Arts regarding the successful completion of their capstone project (or thesis)?
[Ms. Calvino] For my capstone, I decided to do a research focused on Instagram and the use of hashtags for weight loss purposes. I analyzed the hashtag #weightlossjourney dividing the content into three categories: positive only, realistic/journal and body show-off. I captured public content posted under the hashtag for 10 days and analyzed the results to prove that the number of followers does not fully influence the amount of likes that a post receives. Another fact I was able to prove was that Instagram users prefer realistic content vs. retouched/staged images.
The biggest challenge I found was that at that moment, Instagram was implementing the removal of number of likes for many of their users, and I was one of them. However, I received great support from my Capstone chair and advisor, who guided me and gave me great advice throughout the process. To current and future students of the Master of Arts in Communication Arts at UIW I recommend connecting with their professors and classmates from their first class, as they will be key in their success on every project, and even more on their capstone/thesis.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What key takeaways, experiences, or connections from UIW’s Master of Arts in Communication Arts program have you found to be the most helpful for you in your career path?
[Ms. Calvino] The Communication Arts department director, Dr. Trey Guinn, and my social media/graphic design and capstone chair, Dr. Darlene Carbajal have definitely been the biggest influencers in my career so far. I have learned a great deal from both of them, and they both have gone above and beyond in every aspect to ensure that my classmates and I got the best understanding in every class and project we were assigned to work on. Dr. Guinn has a particular way of making everyone feel included in his classes.
What I remember the most are the endless conversations with him and my classmates, and how by having a fully interactive class, we got to learn from each other’s point of view on every discussion. From Dr. Carbajal, I learned to never give up. I learned that even if something seems complicated or almost impossible, there is always a way to make it happen. They, and the rest of the faculty from the Communication Arts department at UIW, made my experience as a graduate student unforgettable. They all helped shape me into the professional I am today, and for that, I will be forever grateful.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What advice would you give students just starting the Master of Arts in Communication Arts at the University of the Incarnate Word? More broadly, what advice would you give students who are either considering or starting a master’s in communication program, whether it be at UIW or another university?
[Ms. Calvino] For those students considering or starting a master’s in communications program, I recommend they request a tour or a meeting with the program director and faculty before enrolling in the program. I honestly believe that the most important factor is that students feel comfortable and that they make sure they will be enrolled in classes that will meet all their professional needs and will help them improve and gain a great set of skills. Without the help of faculty and classmates, it is very difficult to go through a program, so they should try to build those connections early. Receiving honest feedback and constructive critics are the best way to improve your skills and succeed.
Thank you, Ms. Calvino, for your excellent insight into the University of the Incarnate Word’s Master of Arts in Communication Arts program!