SUU Blog | T-Bird Nation

Intercultural Communications Service Learning Project

SierraBonner.jpegSierra Bonner is continuing her communication studies at Southern Utah University as a graduate student in the Master of Arts in Professional Communication.

Originally from Heber City, UT, Sierra has had many opportunities during her time at SUU including being an intern at the Speech and Presentation Center, an online marketing intern for State Bank of Southern Utah, and a branding intern for the National Park Service.  

With all of Sierra’s internships, one of her most notable experiences at SUU, was her participation with the summer 2016 Tonga study abroad trip. During the trip, her group was able to learn about service learning, nonverbal communication and intercultural communication.

“Studying abroad was one of the best experiences of my life,” said Sierra. “While I was in Tonga, I really learned the importance of helping others.”

Sierra’s study abroad program had her and other students visit and teach bible class at a local elementary school. During that time they stayed at Sia’atoutai Theological College and attended their lessons, while teaching their own classes on topics of communication and how to give presentations.

“We worked hands on with students by coming up with speech topics and working on outlines,” said Sierra. “We also learned a traditional tongan dance and performed it at our last dinner celebration as a way to say thank you and to show our appreciation for their generosity.”

Sierra notes that pursuing her communication degree wouldn’t have happened without Communication Professor Ellen Treanor. During her time in Professor Treanor’s Communication 1010 class, she felt motivated that communication was the field for her, and toward the end of that semester Ellen gave Sierra a note that said:  "You have a nice casual presentation style. communication is an excellent choice for you." The note gave Sierra the confidence to push forward in her undergraduate and graduate degree.

Sierra was able to go on her study abroad trip to Tonga with Communication Professors Jonathan Holiman and Kevin Stein. Sierra said the time with her professors was an incredible experience that really helped make the trip even more memorable. 

SierraBonnerwithchildreninTonga.jpg“When you study abroad you learn things that you could never learn from a text book, a class or from the professor,” said Sierra. “You get a hands on experience and I think that’s the best way to learn. Having the opportunity to immerse myself into this culture and meet people on the island was something I’ll always cherish and never forget.” 

Sierra’s study abroad opportunity has shown her that there is more to college than just being in the classroom. This experience gave her a chance to be fully independent and helped her step out of her comfort zone.  

“I couldn't imagine a better place for me to go to school,” said Sierra. “My experiences here have shaped me into the person I am today. The people, the conversations, the classes, the experience... It's hard to put into words what this school means to me.”

Sierra hopes to someday work in the fields of public relations, advertising and event planning, with her ultimate goal to work for Buzzfeed.

“Writing and producing content about current events, puppies, makeup, food, trending styles, celebrities, traveling and creating quizzes is right up my alley,” said Sierra. “Really any career that allows me to show off my creative side and do something that I'm truly passionate about.”

Learn more about SUU's department of communication.