Mahalia Henschel, communication studies major and leadership minor, received the Outstanding Junior in the College of Liberal Arts award from Phi Kappa Phi on April 3, 2019. Phi Kappa Phi is an all-discipline National Honor Society promoting academic excellence and service to others. In order to be eligible for the award, students must be in the top 7.5 percent of their entire class.
“It is awesome to be recognized for my work,” said Henschel. “But there has also been a strong community behind me, and I definitely didn’t do it alone. I have had amazing professors, mentors and a community of peers who have really helped me succeed.”
Henschel was born in Colorado and graduated from Manitou High School, just west of Colorado Springs. After touring other in-state schools, she decided that CSU sent out the “right vibe.” She started her first year as an undeclared major.
Dr. Elizabeth Williams nominated Henschel for the award. They met Henschel’s first year during SPCM 130: Organizational and Relational Communication, a core CMST class taught by Williams.
“Communication studies was too abstract for me before taking the Organizational and Relational course,” said Henschel. “It was the first time I was able to see a practical application. I learned about communication theory and how that shapes culture, business, and relationships.”
Henschel says that many students perceive getting a degree in communication studies as easy since we all communicate. She would like to dispel that myth.
“The fact that we all communicate is what makes communication studies complex, complicated, and invaluable to companies,” said Henschel. “The messages we send are not (always) received in the way they were intended and studying how to improve that process matters.”
Henschel devotes her extra-curricular time to several roles on and off campus. She is currently a Presidential Ambassador and will be stepping into the Membership Chair position next year. In that role, she will engage with donors, alumni, and supporters of CSU.
“I really get the chance to put practical communication skills like event planning and coordinating to work.”
Off-campus she has worked as an assistant at media production company Eddy Sound since 2016. Here Henschel works with contracts and clients to ensure successful events as an administrative assistant.
“I really get the chance to put to work practical communication skills like event planning and coordinating in my media position,” said Henschel.
On top of these two positions and a full class schedule, Henschel also works with local high school students through the CSU Young Life program. During the program Henschel meets with students and works with them to support their goals, helping them in whatever way she can.
“The Young Life program is really just about meeting students where they are currently at, getting to know them and helping them set and achieve their goals,” Henschel said.
She works with a second group of high school students through the President’s Leadership Council to earn credits toward her minor in leadership.
“This is great because I get to help youth create projects about what they are passionate about, and I get to coach them through topics on social change that most of them haven’t been exposed to yet,” said Henschel.
Henschel loves her job in the media production world but is considering pursuing a master’s degree in communication studies. She is particularly interested in communication systems used in a corporate setting to improve diversity.
“I think it is the mission of most businesses to be diverse, but what does that mean and what does that look like?” said Henschel. “I want to make diversity an asset to any team and not just through ethnicity, but also through ability and lived experienced to get more people at the table.”
Henschel says that she always strives to make people aware of diversity in any setting she has the chance to.
“I am passionate about creating equity and access within the communities I am apart of but hope to affect change in the larger community as well,” said Henschel.
Though Henschel has accomplished a lot in her time at CSU, she owes it to the connections she has made throughout her program.
“I’m always thankful for recognition, but it is really a ‘thank you’ to CSU and everybody who’s helped me get here,” said. Henschel
This summer Henschel will remain in Fort Collins, while also attending a few conferences including the Colorado Leadership Alliance, Capital conference in DC, and the Conference for Student Advancement in Baltimore.