Post-event update:

individual videos played during the event have been added at the bottom of this page, as well as nomination forms for 2022

Join the WTAMU Department of Communication and the Communication Alumni Network at 6 p.m. CST on Oct. 22 to honor five special people and a much-appreciated community partner!

Introducing this year's honorees!

Hall of Fame

Katie Kirkpatrick

Katie Kirkpatrick (B.A., 2000) is Vice President of Digital Commerce, North America for Bacardi. Katie leads online sales growth across digital partners and owned platforms, combining her domain expertise in retail e-commerce, digital marketing and media with a track record for delivering integrated business results for consumer brands.

She started her career at luxury retailer Neiman Marcus, developing digital content marketing for designer brands. Afterwards, Katie spent 8 years at interactive agencies driving digital and social strategy for global accounts like Wal-Mart, Dell and UPS. In 2012, Katie moved to NYC to lead e-commerce, content, social and mobile marketing for Victoria’s Secret where she led personalization and omnichannel strategy. She then headed to LA to serve as vice president of e-commerce at jewelry retailer Charming Charlie and to JCPenney in Dallas to head up social and paid media.

Most recently, Katie joined Patron in 2018 as vice president to lead digital, social, experiential and trade marketing to build on Patron’s journey to be the #1 luxury brand in the world. In 2020, she joined Bacardi Global in London to transform owned platforms and build its go-to-market strategy in direct-to-consumer channels.

Katie lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband, Brian, and two children, Jasper (11) and Ellery (9).

Stefanie Rodarte-Suto

Stefanie Rodarte-Suto (B.S., 2003) is the Assistant Director of Community Development with the City of Amarillo. Her current role allows her to create opportunities that alleviate the impact of poverty in her community. Stefanie’s personal and professional endeavors are centered on the belief that transformative change is possible.

A 2003 graduate of WTAMU with a B.S. in Speech Communication, Stefanie spent 17 years in the secondary classroom. In 2007, she became the coach of the Speech and Debate team at Canyon High School in Canyon, Texas. Her passion for people and the power of words prompted her to equip students with tools to advocate on behalf of others. From issues of human trafficking to racial justice to immigration to homelessness, Stefanie used her passion to spark student interest, encouraging her students to use their voices to make a difference in issues important to them.

Beyond her professional life, Stefanie has been intentionally involved in her community. She spent several years coordinating one of the largest Independence Day celebrations in the State of Texas with the Canyon Chamber of Commerce and she volunteers for organizations such as International Justice Mission, Refugee Language Project, and United Way of Amarillo and Canyon. Stefanie is devoted to cultivating student and community voices to advocate for others.

Rising Stars

Dr. Jennifer Harker

Dr. Jennifer L. Harker (M.A., 2015) is a technical writer and editor at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) in Durham, NC. NIEHS is the only NIH institute located outside of the D.C./Maryland area. Harker's job is to translate the intramural and extramural environmental research conducted by NIEHS to the public and other stakeholders.

Harker is a 2015 master’s graduate from the Department of Communication at West Texas A&M University (WTAMU). After training as a social scientist at WTAMU, she earned her doctorate in mass communication as a Park Fellow in the School of Media and Journalism at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Upon graduation, she accepted a position as an assistant professor of strategic communication in the Reed College of Media at West Virginia University (WVU). In 2018, Dr. Harker developed an experiential learning program that is a course-based student-run advertising and public relations agency within the Reed College of Media. The Martin Hall Agency was awarded seven American Advertising Awards (ADDYs) granted by the American Advertising Federation (AAF) while under her direction. The agency continues to service West Virginia-based businesses and nonprofits across the state. Dr. Harker also taught writing and research courses at WVU, and conducted social science research on sport communication, crisis communication, fan behavior, public relations, stakeholder perceptions, and media business models and product marketing.

Before attending WTAMU, Harker practiced across the media spectrum for more than a decade working in jobs from journalism to public relations and marketing, to corporate communication and sports promotion, in both for-profit and nonprofit business models. She earned an associate’s degree in journalism at Amarillo College and a bachelor’s degree in sociology at Arizona State University. Harker served as editor-in-chief of The Ranger newspaper at Amarillo College, interned at the Amarillo Globe-News, and worked as a stringer for the Amarillo Business Journal. Harker went on to work as a journalist and communication specialist for a city government in Arizona after leaving Amarillo in 2002. Her transition into public relations began during her time working in trade journalism in Phoenix, where she served as senior editor for a national physician entrepreneurship magazine and hosted an annual trade show and conference in Las Vegas. Harker then returned to Amarillo with her growing family and served as senior director of marketing and communication at Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch.

Harker recently co-authored a textbook with W. Timothy Coombs, titled Strategic Sport Communication: Traditional and Transmedia Strategies for a Global Sports Market. As a research scholar, she has presented and published numerous book chapters and research articles across national and international media and communication social science conferences and journals. Her work has been published in Communication & Sport, Journal of Sports & Social Issues, the Journal of Sports Media, and Media Business Studies, as well as in books such as Reputational Challenges in Sport: Theory and Application, the International Encyclopedia of Strategic Communication, and Social Media and Crisis Communication. She is an award-winning research scholar, having received top paper awards at numerous national and international communication conferences.

Hope Stokes

Hope Stokes (B.A., 2020) is the Director of Marketing for the Amarillo Convention & Visitors Bureau and a proud WT alumna. Hope graduated with honors, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations, Advertising, and Applied Communication. Hope has always had an affinity for adventure and studied abroad in Florence, Italy in 2015. During that time, she discovered her love for travel and tourism, which quickly developed into a career in tourism marketing. Some of Hope’s most notable accolades include receiving two Destination Council Destiny Awards from the U.S. Travel Association, winning a Grand Prize at the NBS-AERho National Undergraduate Competition, receiving the first ever “Above & Beyond” award from the Texas Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus, and being the youngest person to ever receive the Catalyst Award from TACVB. Hope also received accolades for her work in helping to found and build WT’s first student-run PR firm, 1910 PR. She has always enjoyed being heavily involved in the organizations she’s a part of and has a passion for teaching and learning from others. Hope’s life philosophy is that it’s easy to succeed if you love what you do, who you do it with, and have the right people by your side. Hope credits all of her success to those who have helped guide and support her along the way.

Eternal Flame Award

The Eternal Flame Award recognizes meritorious support of the department by someone who did not graduate from WT.

Dr. Trudy Hanson

Dr. Trudy L. Hanson (B.S., M.A. Speech, Louisiana State University; Ed.D., Higher Education, Texas Tech University) retired from the Department of Communication at West Texas A&M University in January 2021 after 31 years of service. Hanson, who led the department for 14 years, also served as President of the Texas Speech Communication Association, as editor of the Texas Speech Communication Journal, and as president of the Southern States Communication Association.

She has received recognition for outstanding service in the discipline from the Texas Speech Communication Association, the Tejas Storytelling Association and the Southern States Communication Association. She has presented over 40 papers at state, regional and national academic conferences, published 4 chapters in academic monographs, 30 journal articles, compiled 4 public speaking textbooks and written an anthology of fractured fairy tales. Her academic research has been concentrated in rhetorical criticism of popular culture, gender communication, department head leadership, scholarship of teaching and learning, and storytelling. She directed the WTAMU Storytelling Festival for 28 years, bringing nationally known tellers to campus to perform with graduate students.

Community Partner

The Community Partner Award recognizes meritorious support of the department by an organization or company within the Amarillo/Canyon community.

Community Partner of the Year: Pak-A-Sak Convenience Stores

Pak-A-Sak Convenience Stores is a growing convenience store chain with 24 locations across the Texas Panhandle. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in Amarillo, the company remains family-owned and operated and employs more than 350 people. At all times, Pak-A-Sak strives to be distinguished as a respected, multiservice convenience store leader and a trusted brand that is differentiated by their excellent employees and cleanliness standards. Pak-A-Sak is constantly customer focused, valuing excellence, and excelling in store standards.

2021 Scholarship Spotlight

This year, any donations will go toward endowing the new Trudy L. Hanson Write Your Own Story Scholarship.

About the "Trudy L. Hanson Write Your Own Story" Scholarship

Dr. Trudy L. Hanson joined the WTAMU Art, Communication and Theatre Department in the Fall of 1989, with her B.S. and M.A. in Speech from Louisiana State University. While at WT she completed her Ed.D. in Higher Education in 1994 from Texas Tech University. In 2006, she was named the first Department Chair for the newly formed Communication Department. Since 1995, she served as the Sponsor/Coordinator for the WTAMU chapter of Lambda Pi Eta. She also coordinated the Communication Hall of Fame since its inception in 2013. Her teaching included undergraduate and graduate courses in rhetorical criticism, gender communication and storytelling. She directed the annual storytelling festival produced by the Panhandle Storytelling Guild, a WTAMU student organization, and served as president of the Texas Speech Communication Association, the Southern States Communication Association and editor of the Texas Speech Communication Journal.

Dr. Hanson’s research presentations and publications center on the topics of popular communication, gender issues, storytelling and issues that impact first-year college students. She’s also published a collection of stories, Fractured Fairy Tales, Texas Style. Her partnership with Windows on a Wider World bridged area elementary school children with the WTAMU campus each spring where the school children were able to attend the annual storytelling festival.

This scholarship was created in 2020 in honor of Dr. Hanson’s dedication and commitment to her students in Communication. Dr. Hanson retired on Jan. 15, 2021.

Scholarship Selection Criteria:

• Junior or Senior Communication Studies major who has been at WT at least one semester.

• Student has been involved with organizations within the department, including Lambda Pi Eta, the National Communication Honors Society.

Because of the goal to endow Dr. Hanson's scholarship, donation levels have been named with titles fitting her storytelling passion and the name of the scholarship itself:

  • Legend ($500)
  • Performance ($300)
  • Storyteller ($100)

Donations at these levels received by 5 p.m., Friday, Oct. 15 will be acknowledged during the event.

The History of the Communication Hall of Fame

Learn more about what's new in the Department of Communication!

Video featuring Strategic Communication student Kelly James:

Video featuring master's student Allison Welch:

Connect with fellow alumni through the Communication Alumni Network! Learn more from the CAN Facebook page by clicking the button below.

From murals upstairs to office furniture downstairs, the department was refreshed with some updates this summer. Come see us in person when you get a chance!

Awardee videos from the event:

Nomination forms for 2022:

Communication Hall of Fame Award Nomination Form for 2022: https://forms.gle/mVgExoXPcNPar1EW7

Rising Star Award Nomination Form for 2022: https://forms.gle/mZTGfuW3DuRgPPwj8