Academic Programs
Communication Department

The Communication program at Prairie State College focuses on helping students improve their public speaking, interpersonal, intercultural, and mass media communication skills. Employers today want the people they hire to have “soft skills” in addition to the technical skills that define the job. These soft skills are sometimes called “people skills,” and communication often ranks first among them. Other soft skills include teamwork, reliability, flexibility, problem-solving, and creativity. Employers understand that individuals who have soft skills make better employees, no matter what the job description.

 These soft skills are the core of what you learn in communication courses. No matter what your career objective (nurse, police officer, auto mechanic, business entrepreneur, chemist, musician, or astronaut), good communication skills will help you be successful. Majoring or minoring in communication studies or mass communication can also open doors to many satisfying careers. The list of careers that center on communication is endless, and includes such things as sports broadcaster, media critic, press secretary, information officer, publicist, human resources director, negotiator, film director, and many more.

News and Events


19-20 – College of DuPage Frank-ly Speaking Tournament


3 – Parkland College Tournament

16-17 – Harper College Tournament


2-4 – Illinois Intercollegiate Forensics Tournament (Illinois Central College)

23-24 – Phi Rho Pi Region IV Regional Tournament (Moraine Valley Community College)


3 – COMM Day at Prairie State

 8-15 – Phi Rho Pi National Tournament (Daytona Beach, FL)

Brianna Abate
Associate Professor

(708) 709-3763

Brianna Abate began her tenure at Prairie State in 2017. She earned a Bachelor’s in Communication with an emphasis in Speech at Bradley University in Peoria, IL, and her Master’s in Speech Communication from Miami University of Ohio. She began teaching in 2005, and has taught face-to-face and hybrid courses in four states, and online nationwide. Since 1994, Brianna has been involved in forensics (Speech Team) in high school and college as a competitor, coach, and judge for schools across the country. She looks forward to developing courses in PR/Social Media, Rhetoric, and Political Communication to better prepare students for an ever-changing world.

Josh Green
Joshua Green
Associate Professor/Coordinator

(708) 709-2958

Joshua Green joined Prairie State in 2014 after earning a Master of Fine Arts from UCLA and Master of Communication from Miami University of Ohio. During his tenure at Prairie State, he has taught several courses in communication as well as developed additional courses for the curriculum including Film Appreciation and Film History. Joshua is a Co-Director of the Prairie State Speech Team and Administrator for the High School Summer Speech Camp, where he works with students to hone their professional presentation skills. Green has been recognized and award by the competitive speech community for his student service. He has presented at national communications conferences on the topic of race and video gaming. A full-time professor since 2015, Green continues to teach, including COMM 101 (Principles of Communication), COMM 111 (Intro to Mass Communication), and COMM 113 (Film Appreciation).

Dana Trunell
Dana Trunnell
Associate Professor

(708) 709-3798

Dana Trunnell began her career as a full-time professor at Prairie State in August 2016. Prior to her tenure at Prairie State, Professor Trunnell attended Illinois State University, where she earned two Bachelor’s of Arts degrees (English and Journalism) and a Master’s of Communication with an emphasis on Mass Communication and Intercultural Communication. She has coached nationally and state-wide successful students at several high school and college teams including Illinois State University, Arizona State University, and Shadow Mountain High School in Phoenix, Arizona. She is currently serving as Higher Education Chair of the Illinois Communication and Theatre Association. At Prairie State, Professor Trunnell is a Co-Director of the Prairie State Speech Team and Administrator for the High School Summer Speech Camp. She teaches COMM 101 (Principles of Communication), COMM 103 (Group Discussion), COMM 104 (Intercultural Communication), COMM 108 (Interpersonal Communication), and COMM 111 (Introduction to Mass Communication).

Adjunct Faculty
A number of dedicated adjunct faculty members teach Communication 101 at Prairie State College. Adjunct faculty can be reached via the contact information you will receive the first day of class. You may also try visiting the Adjunct Faculty Office when your professor is on campus. The Adjunct Faculty Office is located on the fourth floor of Main Building in room 4195.
Melissa Hebert-Johnson, Dean, Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, mhebert-johnson@prairiestate.edu

In 2018, under the guidance of retired Professor of Communication Ed Schwarz, the Communication Department instituted COMM Day, an annual celebration of the Communication discipline. COMM Day honors the hard work of both past and present students while also welcoming our alumni and the entirety of the Prairie State community to join us in celebrating COMM.

Informative Speech Contest Winners:

2018 – 1st Place = Kristine Witte; 2nd Place = Anthony Miller; 3rd Place = Julia Porco

2019 – 1st Place = Alicia Love; 2nd Place = Diamond Hines; 3rd Place = Luke Angelus

2020 – Contest canceled due to COVID-19

2021 – Contest canceled due to COVID-19

2022 - 1st Place = Seneca Farabaugh; 2nd Place = Kelcee Berkeley; 3rd Place = Julia Cockrum

2023 - Joseph Green – 1st Place; Carli Martinez – 2nd Place

Communication Discipline Awards and Recognition
The Communication Department at Prairie State College seeks to recognize excellence in the Communication discipline. In April 2018, Communication Faculty established two awards to recognize students, faculty, administrators, and other contributors to the Communication program at PSC.

The Ed Schwarz Outstanding Communication Student Award

Ed Schwarz

The award is named after retired Professor Ed Schwarz who taught communication classes full time at Prairie State for 23 years before his retirement in 2018. In addition to teaching, Professor Schwarz also served as long-time Coordinator of Communication and Chair of the Department of Humanities, Communication, Fine & Performing Arts. He also coached the Forensics Team at PSC and was an active member of the International Committee, the Sustainability Committee, and the College-Wide General Education Learning Outcomes Committee.

The Ed Schwarz Outstanding Communication Student award is awarded during the Communication Department’s Communication Day, which is held annually during the Spring semester to celebrate the field of Communication. The award recognizes one or two outstanding second-year students who have excelled in Communication courses and activities on the PSC campus.

Students are nominated and voted on by the Communication faculty during the Spring semester. The Communication Department will send a letter announcing the award to that year’s winning student(s) along with an invitation to attend the Communication Day festivities to receive their award during the closing ceremony.

Past Winners:

  • 2018-2019 – Tiffini Harrison Chism and Julia Porco.
  • 2019-2020 – No award given
  • 2020-2021 – Andrew Malone
  • 2021-2022 – Lillie Futrell and Suzanne Parker
  • 2022-2023 – Jalen Pia and Carrington Valentine


  • Second year student majoring in Communication, who has taken two or more Communication classes at Prairie State
  • Cumulative GPA of 3.0
  • Nomination by one or more of the Communication faculty
  • Selection by vote of the Communication faculty

Elighie Wilson

The Elighie Wilson, III Forensics Hall of Fame aims to recognize outstanding former members, coaches, or other individuals who have significantly contributed to the success of the Forensics Team. The Hall of Fame also seeks to recognize those who have used the skills developed during their tenure on the team to significantly contribute to their communities.

Hall of Fame members are nominated and voted on by the Forensics coaches during the spring semester. New members will receive a notice announcing their selection to the Hall of Fame along with an invitation to attend the Communication Day festivities where they will be recognized for their selection during the closing ceremony.

Hall of Fame members are nominated and voted on by the Forensics coaches during the spring semester. New members will receive a notice announcing their selection to the Hall of Fame along with an invitation to attend the Communication Day festivities where they will be recognized for their selection during the closing ceremony.

In 2019, the Communication Faculty elected to rename the award after Elighie Wilson, III because of Elighie’s storied history as a coach of the PSC Forensics team, a mentor to other coaches at Prairie State and in high schools and colleges nationwide, and continued support and leadership as Vice President of Academic Affairs were deserving of naming rights.

Hall of Fame Selectees:
2019 – Felicia Ditmars Swanson (Team Member, 2006-2008)
2019 – Dave Naze (Coach, 2006-2015)
2020 – No new inductees
2021 – Kerry Luckett (Team Member, 2002-2004)
2021 – Nicholas Williams (Team Member, 2011-2013)
2021 – Suzann (Leonard) Williams (Team Member, 2003-2005
2022 – A.J. Hall (Team Member, 2002-2004)
2022 – Margaret “Peggy” Jones (LASS Administrative Assistant, For Supporting Forensics)
2022 – Ed Schwarz (Coach, 1996-2018)
2023 – Thomas Sweeney (Speech Camp Founder & Coach, 1998-2005)
Matt Churilla (Team Member, 2002-2003)