Tom Crowell


Strategic communication is not just public relations. When I decided on my major here at the University of Utah, I didn’t know that. I had a loose idea that it was a sort of “umbrella program” that encompassed an assortment of subjects in the communications field, but I wasn’t aware of how vast that umbrella was. For my profile story, I decided to go straight to a reliable source and interview my professor for strategic communication, Jakob Jensen.

The main reason I chose to do a story on my major is because I plan on having a career in a field it covers. I was also impressed by Jensen’s teaching style early in the semester and decided since he is new to the university it would be good to introduce him and tell part of his story. However, I ran into obstacles more than once. One of those obstacles was deciding on a good focus for my story. Which direction should I take? What parts of his profession/life do I want to focus on? I had the subject; I just needed to narrow things down.

I also had difficulty locating a second source. There were a lot of questions about my focus to begin with, and that added to the uncertainty of another source. After submitting my story once, it became boldly apparent I needed another source. Fortunately, my news writing professor was able to suggest someone who could add credibility to my budding story and help define my focus at the same time. Things eventually worked out, as they usually do.

Writing the story was also an adventure. More than once my mind hit a wall and got stuck in neutral. In more than one college English course, lengthy papers are the norm. It’s the complete opposite in news writing. You have to make the determination on what is newsworthy based on your target audience and how you can get that audience to retain interest in your story. In some ways it is more difficult than a paper you write for an English 101 class, but due to the editing and polishing process you gain confidence in your work and take pride in knowing it’s worthy of being published for others to read.


I was born in Tacoma, Wash., and grew up nearby in Port Orchard. I am the third child out of four and the only blond. I graduated from South Kitsap High School in 1999 and nine months later served a two-year LDS mission in Las Vegas, Nev.

Following my mission, I had no idea about what I wanted to do for a career. At the time, I had little interest in getting an education and drifted from job to job in the retail sector. In 2004, I started working at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Wash., as a marine pipe fitter helper. I knew within the first week of starting there that I didn’t want that field as my career, but stayed there for nearly four years because it paid well. In 2008 I finally walked away from the money and security of government employment to pursue an education.

At first I took one night class at Tacoma Community College to get acclimated to the classroom environment again. I didn’t do so well and decided that if I wanted to be a student, part-time status would not do. I was also in need of a change of scenery. I made up my mind to move to Utah and attend LDS Business College for my associate’s degree. While I was earning that degree I could evaluate my options for my undergraduate. Brigham Young University, Utah State University, and the University of Utah were my three main choices. At first, BYU was the frontrunner because it had a public relations program, but then I looked into the U once more and discovered something called “strategic communication.” After reading about the major and sequence, I quickly made a decision to apply.

In my free time I enjoy watching and playing sports, watching good movies, or spending time with family and friends. My favorite vacation spot is Southern California and I also enjoy the occasional short road trip.

If there’s one life lesson I have learned it is to never settle for doing something you don’t enjoy just for the sake of a paycheck, no matter how good you are at it. Find something you’re good at, make sure you like it and strive to inspire others to do the same.