Department of Communication Studies

  • I am Arts and Sciences: Karla Khodanian

    Inspiration can strike when you least expect it—even while waiting in line for a coffee.

    Karla KhodanianInspiration can strike when you least expect it—even while waiting in line for a coffee.

    “I was 14 years old in line at a Starbucks, and I overheard the girl in front of me tell her friend that she was going to major in public relations,” said Karla Khodanian, managing partner at the Birmingham Business Alliance. “I went home that night, and I Googled public relations and landed on the Wikipedia page for it. I thought it sounded amazing.”

    Although high school students often change their minds about college majors, Khodanian never wavered from her newfound passion for PR and storytelling.

    “Every campus tour, everything I did after that, I was looking at schools’ communications departments,” said Khodanian. “I never had a moment of doubt… I knew it, stuck with it, and I loved it.”

    Khodanian grew up in Madison, Alabama, and, while exploring college options, she sought out a change of scenery. After spending years in a suburb of Huntsville, she was ready to be in a city rich with culture, energy, and opportunity. Thankfully, during her numerous campus visits, she included the University of Alabama at Birmingham on her list. Once she arrived in Birmingham, her next step was clear.

    “I chose UAB very early in my senior year of high school because I loved the campus—I loved the energy of being in a city,” said Khodanian.

    She started at UAB in 2010 and thrived in the Department of Communication Studies. She also worked with several other units and groups across campus, including Blaze Productions and UAB Digital Media. At the same time, she embraced opportunities to get to know her new city and build a network of like-minded colleagues, mentors, and friends. This commitment to community led her to intern with American Idol star Ruben Studdard, the legendary music venue Bottletree Cafe in Avondale, and the Woodlawn Foundation.

    “It got me outside of the campus bubble and into the community,” said Khodanian. “I learned a lot of practical applications for how to be a strong communicator. The sharpest tool in my toolkit is knowing how to communicate broadly to a big audience.”

    Khodanian went on to graduate with a B.A. in Communication Studies with a Public Relations Specialization in 2014. She also earned minors in sociology and marketing. Soon after graduation, Khodanian decided to stay in Birmingham and start her career in PR.

    “I chose to stay in Birmingham because I knew it would be a phenomenal place to build my career,” said Khodanian. “I didn’t want to lose the valuable relationships I built as an undergrad.”

    Seven years later, she’s found a way to successfully meld her love for community with her knack for storytelling, relationship-building, and brand development. As a managing partner at the Birmingham Business Alliance—the lead economic development organization for the Birmingham seven-county region—Khodanian currently focuses on investor relations and member engagement. Through this work, she connects businesses to the Alliance’s mission of growing more and better jobs in the region. 

    When Khodanian first arrived at the Alliance in 2019, she was responsible for attracting talented people to live and work in Birmingham. Her efforts culminated in a milestone project entitled OnBoard Birmingham.

    “It’s really cool to have a job that helps me build the city that helped build me. I’m really proud of OnBoard Birmingham, which is the talent brand [of the Alliance],” said Khodanian. “I got to be a part of concepting and developing the project. It was something I started as a consultant and freelancer, then carried it into full-time work. I got the opportunity because of my depth of knowledge of the community and my passion for bringing more people into the community.”

    In a way, the website for OnBoard Birmingham is the perfect distillation of Khodanian’s journey. It is a celebration of all things Birmingham, and it’s a digital space where people can start building their own networks and relationships—something Khodanian encourages current CAS students to prioritize.

    “Take the time to build relationships with everyone,” said Khodanian. “Whether it’s your advisor, professor, peer, or someone in the community, those relationships are gold.”

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  • 1850s horror Twitter, recursive propaganda, mapping mutations: Faculty grants seed new projects and nurture careers

    Projects selected for the UAB Faculty Development Grants Program offer an intriguing look into the creativity and range of research and scholarship on campus.

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  • Khan is first at UAB to be awarded competitive PRSA scholarship

    Public relations student Tehreem Khan is the first member of the PRSSA chapter at UAB to receive this sought-after scholarship from the national society, for her academic achievements. The award is given to just two students each year.

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  • PRSSA/PRCA at UAB receives second Star Chapter of the Year Award

    UAB’s student-led PRSSA chapter brings home a second national award.

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  • 6 faculty elevated to Distinguished, University professorships

    The UA System Board of Trustees awarded the rank of Distinguished Professor to William Benoit, Smita Bhatia, James Cimino, Gene Siegal and J. Michael Wyss and the rank of University Professor to Sylvie Mrug during its April 9 meeting.

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  • UAB student-researcher awarded full scholarship for Cornell University Ph.D. communications program

    Alivia Moore, who studied deception in the UAB Department of Communication Studies and graduates May 1, urges incoming students to take every opportunity seriously and plan their long-term goals.

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  • UAB PRCA/PRSSA awarded Outstanding Chapter, Outstanding Chapter Campaigns

    UAB’s PRCA/PRSSA student organization won the Alabama PRSA Outstanding Chapter award as well as Outstanding Chapter Campaigns, and two students took home individual awards.

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  • Celebrate 23 books authored by CAS faculty in 2020

    Writing a book isn’t easy, but faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences produced nearly two-dozen — for the second year in a row. Twenty faculty from 13 departments wrote books on police violence, John Milton, democracy in Bangladesh, addiction, postcommunist theatre and more.

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  • A passion for films helps Gareth Jones inspire honors students

    Jones has attended the Sundance Film Festival for more than 20 years and uses his experiences to spark students’ analytical skills in film studies classes at UAB.

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  • The truth, or fake news? How to do the research yourself with deception expert Tim Levine

    The world has many different information streams now. Levine shares his strategy for deciphering facts from fiction, no matter the topic.

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  • Finding Her Voice: The Megan Louise Montgomery Endowed Memorial Scholarship

    UAB was where communication studies alumna Megan Montgomery found her passion—and herself.

    UAB was where communication studies alumna Megan Montgomery found her passion—and herself. Read the story behind this new scholarship for students in the Department of Communications Studies.

     

    Please join the UAB Department of Communication Studies in honoring Megan Montgomery. Gifts go toward deserving students in the Department of Communication Studies who are involved in the community. Give now at go.uab.edu/MeganMontgomery.

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  • UAB student becomes university’s first Schwarzman Scholar

    Zahrah Abdulrauf, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, is one of only 154 Schwarzman Scholars chosen for 2022, selected from a field of more than 3,600 applicants.

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  • UAB student named Rhodes Scholar Finalist

    Senior Zahrah Abdulrauf in the College of Arts and Sciences is recognized for outstanding academic achievement and community involvement.

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  • UAB PRCA awarded six Medallion Awards, four Awards of Merit and 11 awards of Excellence

    The student-led UAB Public Relations Council of Alabama chapter won six Medallion Awards, the highest award of achievement available to students.

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  • How has COVID-19 affected the way we communicate?

    A UAB communications expert explains how communication skills have changed during the COVID-19 pandemic quarantine.

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  • UAB’s PRCA/PRSSA student-led chapter named Chapter of the Year

    Communication Studies students bring home title as the PRCA/PRSSA Chapter of the Year.

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  • Mark Hickson awarded prestigious Ecroyd Teaching Excellence Award

    A UAB professor is recognized for his outstanding work in teaching and leadership.

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  • Catch up on your reading with one of these 13 books authored by CAS faculty

    Do you have more time on your hands while social-distancing? Faculty and staff in the College of Arts and Sciences published 13 books in 2019 on subjects ranging from lifestyles and aging to advancements in satellite archaeology.

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  • Bae selected for Most Promising Multicultural Student Program, first in UAB history

    College of Arts and Sciences senior is the first UAB student to be selected for this nationwide advertising event.

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  • Newlyweds to graduate from UAB together with master’s degrees Dec. 13

    Shakima Knox and Steven D. Wilson have made the most of their time on campus: They met at UAB, married on Homecoming Saturday, earned their graduate degrees and will walk together on Saturday.

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