Domenic Screnci comes from a diverse array of backgrounds: photography, public health, educational technology, biocommunications and more. He is the co-director of Boston University’s online Master of Science Health Communications Program and Certificate in Visual and Digital Health Communication. He also teaches the Professional Presentations course at COM. Domenic sat down with The COMmunicator to offer valuable suggestions to COM students.
Sherry Yan: What sparked your passion in education?
Domenic Screnci: When I was young, learning was always a struggle for me. I think that even through college, I gravitated to things that were visual. Geology is visual science, so that’s where I was comfortable at. The one thing I had was a lot of determination and tenacity. I loved learning and growing. But my passion for education comes from my own struggles with learning and my wanting to be a part of helping to enhance the learning process for both students and faculty.
SY: Did this inform your decision to start the MS in health communication certificate program at BU?
DS: Yeah. That was kind of a natural evolution from what I had been doing. I was actually recruited for that program by Toby Berkowitz at the College of Communication. He knew I had been working on the medical campus and that I had a background in health care. He partnered me with Professor Quigley at COM who had a strong background in public relations. We were able to build a program that truly represented the two disciplines in health communication.
SY: You teach visual literacy and information design at UMass Boston. What do you think of the role of visual communication and technology in facilitating educational development?
DS: So, one falls on the discipline of the student and what the preference is, the other one is on the responsibility of the instructor, making sure that they are thinking about those different things and that they are represented in the best possible way. That’s what actually brought me to teaching visual literacy and information design at UMass Boston. There was a lot of research and discussion at one point about learning approaches, it proved that people do have a preference in how they learn. It doesn’t mean they might learn better, but somebody who is more predisposed to verbal learning, like reading and writing, that’s what they should do. If you use that as a motivation to learn, then you understand, and it’s important to understand that there are some disciplines that are better presented visually than that they’re written. So making sure that the right subject matter is connected to the right delivery mechanism is important.
SY: Shifting to your role at COM as an instructor, what do you enjoy the most?
DS: I love teaching; I love connecting with students. I think the secret is that if you are doing it the right way, you’re learning (as an instructor) as much from the students as the students are learning from you, especially the more diverse the population is. In the College of Communication where there is a large representation of international students, it’s just a wonderful learning experience. Another thing is that because my path isn’t the most secure one, I like to help students find their way. To share your experience with other students, and then some of the lessons and insights that you’ve learned that can help them evolve their own construct of how and where they want to work, what they want to do, and what discipline they want to do it in.
SY: For students in COM, what are your suggestions in terms of choosing courses and making career plans?
DS: One is that making mistakes is a learning experience; it’s not a failure. So even if you think you want to do something and you tried to do it, and then you realize it’s not something that you like, that’s okay. But the most important thing is to think about what will differentiate you from the rest of the graduates graduating from college that will give you the step up into the field that you want to go — course work, projects you choose, your internships, and the networking you do.
If you know what you want to do, then you should try to focus as much of your effort and energy in courses, experiences that will get you to that place, and I think this has to happen sooner than later because the time flies by while you are in school; you have to be more thoughtful and methodical about what you are going to do. It doesn’t make a difference whether it’s health communication or film or marketing, just look at that construct and say, “Okay, let me think about how do I develop and present myself after graduation that shows somebody that one, I am passionate about working in this field and two, that I have learned things that apply to what the jobs may require.”
Sherry (Xinrui) Yan, Staff Writer
Sherry is a second-year graduate student from College of Communication at Boston University. She is majoring in mass communication. Sherrt is interning at Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University this semester. Coming from China, she enjoys Chinese calligraphy. Here in Boston, you will most likely see her working out in the gym late at night or attending yoga class early in the morning.