2021 Communication Hall of Fame: Community of communication


Communication Hall of Fame, located on the first floor of the Sybil B. Harrington Fine Arts Complex. Photo by Hannah Valencia

On Friday, Oct. 22, West Texas A&M University’s Department of Communication hosted its eighth annual Communication Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame event is unique to the Department of Communication at WTAMU and is a way for the department to honor individuals and companies who have made a positive impact on the Department and/or in the field of Communication.

This Hall of Fame event did not take place last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so this was the first Hall of Fame since the fall of 2019. This year also marked the first ever virtual Hall of Fame. The virtual mode of the event was primarily due to continued caution in light of the ongoing pandemic. However, having the event take place virtually had additional benefits besides safety.

“The neat thing about it is, as we kept thinking about it…we realized this is actually going to allow more people to attend,” said Dr. Emily Kinsky, professor of media communication at WTAMU. “It removed the hurdles of cost and distance, and opened this event up for all of our alumni and current students and any other interested community members.”

This year’s honorees included two Rising Stars, two Hall of Fame honorees, an Eternal Flame awardee and a much-appreciated community partner.

Both Rising Stars and Hall of Fame honorees must have graduated from WTAMU’s Department of Communication. The main difference between the two types of awards is that Rising Stars are more recent graduates, while Hall of Fame awardees have been graduated for a longer time.

This year’s Rising Stars are Dr. Jennifer L. Harker, a 2015 master’s graduate from the WTAMU Department of Communication, and Hope Stokes, who earned a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations, Advertising, and Applied Communication from WTAMU in 2020.

Harker is currently a technical writer and editor at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) in Durham, NC and has held a variety of roles within the field of Communications. She recently co-authored a textbook with W. Timothy Coombs titled “Strategic Sport Communication: Traditional and Transmedia Strategies for a Global Sports Market.”

Stokes is the Director of Marketing for the Amarillo Convention & Visitors Bureau. She has received many awards for her work. Stokes also helped found and build WTAMU’s student-run PR firm, 1910 PR.

The 2021 Hall of Fame awardees are Katie Kirkpatrick, who graduated with her B.A. in 2000, and Stefanie Rodarte-Suto, a 2003 graduate of WTAMU with a B.S. in Speech Communication.

Kirkpatrick is Vice President of Digital Commerce, North America for Bacardi and leads online sales growth across digital partners and owned platforms. She has worked with many companies including Victoria’s Secret, jewelry retailer Charming Charlie, JCPenney in Dallas and Patron.

Rodarte-Suto is the Assistant Director of Community Development with the City of Amarillo, which involves alleviating the impact of poverty in her community. She spent 17 years in the secondary classroom and served as the coach of the Speech and Debate team at Canyon High School in Canyon, TX.

The Eternal Flame Award “recognizes meritorious support of the department by someone who did not graduate from WT.” The 2021 Eternal Flame Award went to Dr. Trudy Hanson, who served as a professor in WTAMU’s Department of Communication for 31 years and was the department head for 14 years. Hanson retired in January 2021, but her impact on WTAMU and the surrounding community has been immense.

The Community Partner Award “recognizes meritorious support of the department by an organization or company within the Amarillo/Canyon community.” The 2021 Community Partner Award went to Pak-A-Sak Convenience Stores.

Pak-A-Sak has been a long standing supporter of both WTAMU and the Department of Communication specifically, but was especially supportive this past year. Buffalo Advertising, WTAMU’s award-winning National Student Advertising team and student-operated advertising agency, chose Pak-A-Sak as their client and worked to develop an integrated marketing communications campaign for the company.

Dr. Mary Liz Brooks, Jenny Lind Porter professor of communication, assistant professor of media communication and advisor for Buffalo Advertising, said Pak-A-Sak was very welcoming to Buffalo Advertising and an overall great client to work with.

The Communication Hall of Fame is an important tradition in WTAMU’s Department of Communication, and, although it was a bit different this year, it stood by its core purpose of celebrating communication and community.

As Hall of Fame awardee Stefanie Rodarte-Suto said in her induction speech, “The very nature of communication relies on the fact that we don’t exist in a vacuum. Instead, we exist and are at our best when we are within a community.”


For more information about the Hall of Fame honorees and awardees, as well as nomination forms for the 2022 Rising Star and Hall of Fame awards, check out the Communication Hall of Fame microsite.