“It’s not only about talking, it’s also about listening.”

Meet Colleen and learn about her unique experience after high school and how she realized Communication was the field of study that brought out the best in her.

Colleen Penaluna is a student at Chapman University studying Communications with a minor in Political Science. Her discerning mindset for social justice distinguishes her from many of her peers – that and her love for corgis.

Thank you for being here today. How about our readers get to know you a little better. How would you describe yourself in three words?

Oh lord. I’d say I’m loyal, open-minded, and diligent (oh and sleepy too).

What is something that you do every month that you think makes you feel the happiest?

I feel like I really value my relationships with others – even with those who I might not see as often. Every now and then I’ll ask one of my friends if they want to get some food and chat about life, or anything really. It’s all about sharing that meaningful conversation with someone I care about that makes it worth it for me.

Do you think that this is what inspired you to study communications?

After graduation I actually didn’t really know what I wanted to study. That summer I got offered a job as state president for a non-profit called Rainbow. I had always been part of it and decided to give it a chance. I thought I needed some time away from school to help me focus on myself and figure out what I really wanted to do with my life.

My work in public speaking made me aware that I had always enjoyed the study of interpersonal relationships and decided to enroll in community college as an anthropology major. The more I learned about it however, the more I realised that my curriculum required a lot of research that didn’t really catch my attention. I finally decided to meet with my counselor and she suggested communications. I research about it and realized it was everything I was looking for! To this day I am very grateful I reached out to my resources and gave myself the time and patience after school to really figure myself out.

Colleen speaking at an event for The International Order of the Rainbow for Girls, a service organization she has been involved with since very young.

What is it that you are enjoying most about being a communications major now?

Communications is the study of behavior and expression. It’s about understanding how to talk to people and deliver clear messages. It is similar to anthropology in the sense that it includes observation of personal and social structures, but it also brings in some psychology since it teaches you how to predict and explain human reaction. I really think it’s the perfect combination of my personal interests.

I also think that the environment of my classes helps me become more engaged with what I learn. The students and professors in the Comm department here at Chapman all seem to have this desire to share and discuss ideas. This and the smaller classrooms really enable me to create engaging connections that inspire me to grow.

How would you describe your own voice as a communicator?

Interesting question! I believe my voice really depends on the context where I am speaking. For the most part though, I usually keep a very empathetic and open minded approach with others. I try to step back on a conversation and understand where that other person might be coming from. Communications is not only about talking, it’s also about listening.

Having this in mind, what are some of your goals?

I honestly don’t know for sure where I want to take my career. Communications really gives you a broad spectrum of where you want to focus. Recently I have become interested in the political processes of non-profits that engages in social justice advocacy. I know I want to help create a meaningful long-lasting impact in the world.

Although I also do stress about my future sometimes, I also think it’s okay to not have everything figured it out. I see it as a continuous process of learning and discovering what resonates best with who I am.

What is your own definition of success?

I guess I describe success as a feeling of personal fulfilment. It’s about finding something meaningful to do with your life and doing it. Personally I am always looking for new ways to engage in my community and working to create meaningful changes in both simple and impactful ways. I think the point is to go out into the world and put your ideas into action.

What advice would you give to someone who might not feel like they have found a career path they’re excited about?

I would say it is never too late to change. It is easy to feel stuck in the moment, especially if you don’t have the money or the resources to do it. Trust me there are always resources waiting for you out there. Do some digging and find a club or association that support one of your interests. Community college is also a great opportunity to learn about new topics of interest without having to fully commit.

Never forget to advocate for yourself, it’s you who has control over your future and your life.

Colleen’s desire to change the world for the better is only now starting – and I believe great things are coming her way!

If you want to see more of her – check her out here.

Carla Frias

Life isn't perfect... but it does have its moments. 🌻

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