From Speech to Communication Studies

Jasmine Martinez

After almost 19 years of wanting to change the speech department to the communication studies department, Department Chair Angela Hoppe-Nagao expressed enthusiasm over the official title change in the fall 2019 semester.

Since the inception of Cerritos College in 1956, the speech department was one of the first and longest-lasting components to the campus.

While Hoppe-Nagao acknowledges the importance of the history of the department’s name– such as the power of spoken word and importance of public speaking skills– she said it was not reflective of what the classes and major have to offer.

“When people think of speech, they tend to think of public speaking, but our field has become more diverse,” Hoppe-Nagao explained, “We want students to know that we are not just about public speaking, though public speaking is an important part of what we do, we do so much more than that.”

Omar Gutierrez-Rocha, political science major, thought the old name was a “little archaic,” but now the department gets to move forward and be more “on level” with other universities who refer to it as the communication studies department.

“Communication studies really is [broader] and can be applied to more fields,” said Gutierrez-Rocha.

Marla Valdez, now a communication studies major, thinks the new name sounds better and students might respond to the course names better than speech– sometimes believing and fearing the classes will consist of mostly public speaking.

According to Hoppe-Nagao and other studies, public speaking is amongst one of the main fears among people in the United States.

Hoppe-Nagao said it took about a year to get the courses, degree and certificates finalized to offer communication studies majors a smoother transition.

Most of the course numbers merely changed names, according to Hoppe-Nagao. For example, Speech 100 transitioned into Comm 100, save for Speech 235, which is now Comm 103.

Course numbers and name changes can be found on the Cerritos College website, under the communication studies department.

“It took us about 15 years to get everybody on board,” Hoppe-Nagao laughed, “So it took a while.”

She hopes the department continues to be a positive and memorable experience that helps build communities on campus.