Communication Researcher Graduates Summa Cum Laude

Ever since transferring into the School of Communication her sophomore year, Celeste Balboni knew she had found her place. She decided to declare a major within the SoC when she began taking courses at the school and became involved with the Public Relations Experience Program (PREP). The following semester, she began to take more general courses, like Freedom of Expression and Communication Ethics and ultimately declared Communication Studies as her major.

“It was one of the first classes that I took in the School of Communication and that’s what made me realize that this is where I wanted to be,” Balboni said.

Of the four tracks within the Communication Studies major, Balboni enrolled in the intercultural track. For the capstone, she is doing a research project on female student athletes and how coach communication affects body image. The capstone combines research methods learned in various courses throughout the major, like conducting focus groups and interviews, constructing surveys, and gathering and analyzing data.

“It’s really exciting because … I honestly didn’t realize this was a part of the major,” Balboni said. “I kind of just went into it thinking … I’ll learn some great new skills, but I didn’t really think it’d be this immersive.”

On top of PREP, Balboni is on student government, a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority, and the president of Miami Motion Dance Team.

Balboni mentioned Shara Pavlow, lecturer in the Department of Communication Studies, as one of the professors who helped her throughout the major.

“[Balboni] is this amazing balance of a really conscientious, thoughtful, bright student with … warmth and sweetness,” Pavlow said.

Pavlow remarked that Balboni came to the major with a “curious mind and a set of work ethics that are just amazing.”

“She’s got the influence and credibility with her colleagues to really inspire them to do their best work as well,” Pavlow said. “It sounds so trite, but it’s real with her.”

Pavlow has had Balboni in a number of classes over the past few years.

“Her work is just always top quality, she puts her best into everything she does and it really shows,” she said. “I would look forward to reading her papers.”

After graduation, Balboni hasn’t decided whether to stay in Miami or return home to Boston. She hopes to pursue a career in a consulting position to “bring in the different cultural perspectives and … help to bridge those gaps.”

Reflecting on her time at UM, Balboni is grateful for the education that she has received.

“I really feel like taking classes in the [School of Communication] and learning from the professors here has really opened my eyes to other opportunities that I would have never really, you know, had the exposure to had I not been here,” she said.

On May 4, Balboni was recognized as the Outstanding Senior for the School of Communication at the school’s Faculty and Staff End of Year Reception at the Shalala Student Center. The award is given to a senior who has achieved academic excellence. She will graduate summa cum laude on May 11 with a Bachelor of Science in Communication Studies.