Campbellsville University students serve as interns at Fort Knox

Campbellsville University students serve as interns at Fort Knox

Sept. 8, 2016
For Immediate Release

By Lt. Col. William Ritter, assistant professor of public relations

FORT KNOX, Ky. -- Tempers flared, voices yelled and gunfire roared in the background.

It could be a CNN report from many places around the world. This reality, however, was simply an incredibly realistic war simulation, teaching five Campbellsville University students mass communication techniques under extreme conditions, during their summer internships with the Army’s Cadet Command.

Kasey Ricketts, a Campbellsville University senior mass communication major from Jackson, Mich., checks her images during a photo session at Fort Knox, Ky. Ricketts, and four other CU students completed a 12-week internship with the U.S. Army Cadet Command, providing mass communication support to the ROTC summer camps there. (Campbellsville University Photo by Lt. Col. William Ritter)
Kasey Ricketts, a Campbellsville University senior mass communication major from Jackson, Mich., checks her images during a photo session at Fort Knox, Ky. Ricketts, and four other CU students completed a 12-week internship with the U.S. Army Cadet Command, providing mass communication support to the ROTC summer camps there. (Campbellsville University Photo by Lt. Col. William Ritter)


Campbellsville University’s Trent Taylor of Kevil, Ky.; Kaitlyn Hill of White Pigeon, Mich.; Angel Whittle of Russell Springs, Ky.; Kasey Ricketts of Jackson, Mich.; and Steffanie Hampton of Onondaga, Mich., each part of the university’s Mass Communications’ major or minor program, participated in the Army’s 12-week college internship program hosted by Cadet Command.

Cadet Command presented the opportunity to students around the country who are majoring in marketing, advertising, graphic design, photojournalism, broadcast journalism, social media or public relations, as a way of bolstering their internal marketing communication staffs.

The five Campbellsville University students reported to Fort Knox on May 22 and completed their work on Aug. 19. During their 12-week program, they learned the ins-and-outs of the Army’s Reserve Officer Training Program, which turns officer cadets into Army lieutenants.
Each intern lived the Army life as they honed their skill in various mass communication techniques, working in a fast-passed, 24-hour new media cycle, emulating major news bureaus around the world.

Ricketts, a senior communication major, gained a whole new appreciation for America’s soldiers.

“This internship has allowed me to gain new insight on our military and Army,” she said. “I’ve gotten to see and experience what our future Army soldiers go through and heard about what their futures may look like – which has given me a new insight and respect for the men and women who serve our country.”

Each CU student worked with Army Public Affairs Officers (PAOs) assigned to the Army’s Cadet Command. Army PAOs train in communication strategies, internal communication programs, media relations and community relations programs.

Additionally, PAOs gather information for military news programs, disseminate press releases, articles, web-based material and photographs on Army personnel and activities. They are in charge of writing speeches, feature articles, and editorial content and supervise the Army photojournalists and broadcast journalists.

Steffanie Hampton, from Onondaga, Mich., pauses during her digital video editing session at Fort Knox, Ky. Hampton, joined four other CU mass communication students for a 12-week internship with the U.S. Army Cadet Command. The CU students provided mass communication support to the ROTC summer camps there. Hampton said, “This internship has taught me to have confidence in myself, my abilities, and my work.” (Campbellsville University Photo by Lt. Col. William Ritter)

Steffanie Hampton, from Onondaga, Mich., pauses during her digital video editing session at Fort Knox, Ky. Hampton, joined four other CU mass communication students for a 12-week internship with the U.S. Army Cadet Command. The CU students provided mass communication support to the ROTC summer camps there. Hampton said, “This internship has taught me to have confidence in myself, my abilities, and my work.” (Campbellsville University Photo by Lt. Col. William Ritter)


Similarly, Campbellsville University’s Mass Communication program teaches students skills they need for successful careers in broadcasting, digital media, film, journalism and public relations, making the internships a natural fit between CU’s students and the Cadet Command’s Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program.

Each student qualified for the internship based on their CU major/minor and was required to submit a portfolio for review and undertake an interview. The process was identical to what students will face when applying for jobs upon degree completion.

Each student, however, was also “cross trained” in other skill sets outside of their degree of study, stretching their knowledge beyond their comfort zones in order to learn new skills.
According to Hill, a sophomore broadcast major, the experience was truly rewarding.
“I’ve learned so much. I learned better angles to take shots, how to use (Adobe) Premier (digital video editing software) and what length clips should be,” she said. “I've enjoyed (working with) different public affairs officers to see different points of views and learn things that might be important to one person and not another.”

The internships also taught CU’s students intangible skills needed to succeed in today’s competitive workforce.

“This internship has taught me to have confidence in myself, my abilities and my work,” Hampton, a junior majoring in criminal justice administration with a mass communications minor at CU, said. “People don’t want their events covered by somebody who acts like they don’t know what they’re doing,” she said.

Each summer the Army’s Cadet Command brings thousands of officer candidates to Fort Knox to train them on effective leadership and teamwork skills. CU’s interns documented the cadet’s training to build and maintain America’s public confidence in our Army leaders of tomorrow. In doing so, they increased their knowledge across many mass communication platforms and created a professional portfolio to use in job hunting upon graduation.
Each CU intern had their work published in internal Army platforms as well as external media platforms.

Trent Taylor, a photojournalism minor in Campbellsville University’s mass communication program poses with his award-winning photograph, selected as the photo of the week by Fort Knox leaders. Taylor joined four other CU students in an internship working for the U.S. Army Cadet Command documenting Army cadet training in order to promote, build and maintain the America’s public’s confidence in American’s Army leaders of tomorrow. (Campbellsville University Photo by Lt. Col. William Ritter)
Trent Taylor, a photojournalism minor in Campbellsville University’s mass communication program poses with his award-winning photograph, selected as the photo of the week by Fort Knox leaders. Taylor joined four other CU students in an internship working for the U.S. Army Cadet Command documenting Army cadet training in order to promote, build and maintain the America’s public’s confidence in American’s Army leaders of tomorrow. (Campbellsville University Photo by Lt. Col. William Ritter)


“This internship made me grow a lot in my field of study,” Ricketts said. “It’s forced me to get outside of my comfort zone and pushed me to improve in many areas.

“I’ve had great mentors along the way to help me and keep me motivated every day to get better. It has also given me many (resume building) opportunities I would have never had including covering a visit with the Secretary of Defense, meeting with the Secretary of Army, covering the four-star general Abrams (Forces Command Commanding General, Gen. Robert B. Abrams) and interviewing the vice president of the San Francisco’s 49ers,” she said.

Interns covered visiting dignitaries who reviewed cadets training, including Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning and Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, and were required to brief their products – and progress – to senior Fort Knox staff on a weekly basis.

Taylor and Rickets each has a photograph selected as “image of the week” by Fort Knox leaders.

This was the inaugural year for Campbellsville University’s Mass Communication student internships with the Army’s Cadet Command, but the university was already asked back for next year’s training coverage.

“CU’s students did great work for us,” said Richard Patterson, Deputy Public Affairs Officer for Cadet Command. “They were hard-working kids who provided us with some great media products.”

Campbellsville University’s William Ritter, assistant professor of public relations, arranged internships. Ritter, a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve, is a former active duty Public Affairs Officer.

The internships support Army Reserve’s Private Public Partnership Office. P3O develops, integrates and directs partner relations for the Army Reserve with not-for-profit organizations, for-profit businesses and academic organizations to help the Army Reserve achieve its mission.

Campbellsville University’s students who want more information on the internships or who want to sign up for next year’s opportunities can contact Lt. Col. William Ritter at (270) 789-5041 or email at wdritter@campbellsville.edu.

Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 3,500 students offering over 80 programs of study including 24 master’s degrees, seven postgraduate areas and eight pre-professional programs. The website for complete information is campbellsville.edu.

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