HATTIESBURG – Their
careers are as diverse as their personalities, but Nancy, Cathy
and Susan Steen share at least one other common denominator besides
being sisters – all three majored in speech communication
as undergraduates at The University of Southern Mississippi.
They agree that their speech communication education
is a key element of their success, whether it's Cathy conducting
a training seminar as vice-president on premise of the luxury wine
and spirits company Moet Hennessy USA; Nancy’s preparations
to conduct cross-examinations in the courtroom as a Hattiesburg
attorney; or Susan's interactions with foreign university and government
officials and students from around the world as director of international
education at Southern Miss.
“You chose wisely,” said Cathy
Steen to speech communication students during her address to the
department’s annual banquet recently. “Whatever you
choose to do in life, it (a degree in speech communication) will
serve you well.”
Cathy Steen said her degree in speech communication
helped her become a better speaker and writer and provided her with
skills in persuasion, negotiation and listening– all of which
have been invaluable to her as a businesswoman, she said.
She also learned that her reality was not necessarily
everyone else’s reality, so understanding multiple viewpoints
was also critical for her to be a better communicator, an understanding
she gained from her education at Southern Miss.
“I promise you, you will have a definite
advantage (in the working world) after you’ve completed the
program,” Cathy said.
Susan Steen agrees with her sisters that a speech
communication degree is a versatile education. “It helped
me become a more effective communicator in a variety of intercultural
contexts, from interpersonal, one-on-one encounters to small groups
and large audiences,” she said.
Nancy, whose legal specialty is family law, said
her work involves direct communication with her clients as well
as with juries. “What I learned as a speech communication
major helped me not only understand about and empathize with the
problems my clients are having in their family relationships, but
it also helps when I make a presentation in the courtroom,”
The Southern Miss Speech Communication Department
has an estimated 110 students in both undergraduate and graduate
programs, said Dr. Charles Tardy, chairman of the speech communication
“We’re so proud of Cathy, Nancy
and Susan,” said Tardy. “They all are testaments to
what people can accomplish with the right background, drive and