Alumni honored at COMM Hall of Fame


Photo courtesy of Rik Andersen

2018 Communication Hall of Fame award recipients. Rising Star award recipient Brittany Sarret (not pictured). 

Hannah Nelson, Entertainment Editor

A theatre director, an attorney,  a speech and debate coach and an operations manager. Four people with different careers, but they  have one thing in common. For these individuals their careers all started in the communication department of West Texas A&M University. 

The Department of Communication inducted four new members into the Communication Hall of Fame on Sept. 28 at the WTAMU Legacy Hall. The Communication Hall of Fame honored and recognized distinct alumni of the department that have made impacts in their field and are an active member in the community. This year’s event, hosted by alumni and past Rising Star award recipient Kirk Scarbrough, inducted four members, Jason Crespin, Dan Morgan and couple Mellessa and Steven Denny. 

“The things that we learned there [at WTAMU] still come into play and still influence us…even when life kind of throws things at you, you can go back to what you learned,” Mellessa Denny said. 

Mellessa and Steven Denny are the first inductees to be nominated as a couple. Mellessa is a 1997 graduate and high school speech and debate coach. Throughout her career she has coached many students to state and national success. Her husband Steven Denny works as a criminal defense lawyer. He graduated in 1996 with his bachelor’s before getting his law degree from Texas Tech University. 

“It all started there, so it is definitely fitting that we are still being recognized as a couple,” Steven Denny said. 

Another inductee of the night was 2006 graduate Jason Crespin. Crespin was inducted for his work as academy director of the Amarillo Little Theater. He has also worked on a variety of projects including being a finalist on “Live with Kelly”. Since working at the Amarillo Little Theater, he has improved the attendance and growth of the theater.  

“I just feel honored that I am still working in our community and still proud to be a buff,” inductee Crespin said. 

The fourth inductee for the night was Dan Morgan the operations manager at KAMR-TV. Morgan graduated with his bachelor’s degree from WTAMU in 1991 and attended graduate school from 1997 to 2003. Throughout his career Morgan has contributed to the growth of the media field and has received numerous accolades for his work. 

“It is very humbling we have had a lot of great alumni go through the halls of WT over the years and to be included in this group I am very honored,” Morgan said. 

Along with these inductees, the department also gave out a few other awards. They recognized its two Rising Star award recipients Wilson Lemieux and Brittany Sarrett. This award is dedicated to recent alumni that have made major accomplishments. The Campus Partner award was given to Chief Information Officer James Webb and the Community Partner award to the Amarillo Convention and Visitor Council. 

From last year’s event the department was able to fund the “Slow and Steady” scholarship started by this year’s Rising Star recipient Wilson Lemieux. This year the event raised money for the “Dig In” scholarship, seeded by Randy and Anita Ray. 

“When you start a scholarship fund, in order for it to start throwing off enough interest to grant one $500 scholarship, we have to have $10,000 dollars,” Communication Department Head Dr. Trudy Hanson said.

During the ceremony, short documentaries of the of the Hall of Fame inductees where shown. These documentaries were created by current students enrolled in the Advanced Video class  at WTAMU, taught by Associate Lecturer and Director of Broadcast Engineering Randy Ray.  

“The stories that we were able to tell through our work were amazing and certainly would not have been possible without our notable new inductees of the WT Communication Hall of Fame,” said Advanced Video student Stevie Simmons.

During the night, the inductees were able to enjoy their time celebrating their accomplishments and reconnect with people from WTAMU.  It was a night for all members of the Communication Department to come together and honor its inductees. 

“Our life is filled with people who are WT graduates and they are still our community. We still have a community even though we don’t step foot on the campus every single day and we don’t take class we are still connected to those same people,” Mellessa Denny said.