English and Communication Department

Why health communication

Carolyn Lagoe's interest in health communication began during her junior year of undergrad. "I majored in communication in college. I always had an interest in health issues, but I never saw a way to fit that in with communication. A professor, who is now a collaborator of mine, was working on organ and tissue donation campaigns. I've known people in my life who have ultimately become organ donors, and I believe passing life on in that way is wonderful. That really sparked my interest in health communication as a way to make a positive and measurable impact in people's lives. Health campaigns are not about forcing someone to do something they don't want to do. They're about identifying the barriers of making a beneficial health change and enabling people, making them feel confident, to change their behaviors."

"My work emphasizes the use of evidence-based strategies to design and implement effective health campaigns. I previously worked on HIV risk reduction interventions based in Mozambique and Ethiopia, where peer counselors discussed with patients how to be healthier. My recent work has a more local focus — health behavior campaigns in Rochester."

Lagoe and colleagues received a Nazareth CARS (Creative Activity and Research Showcase) grant to examine how to effectively influence whether people get dental care. Lagoe intends to explore why more than a third of Americans do not routinely visit dental care providers, over and above financial and time barriers. Reasons may relate to interpersonal skills such as dentists' ability to comfort and encourage patients. The research team will use this information to develop campaign materials that facilitate effective communication between patients and providers.

Communication and community

"The communication program at Naz is great because of its students and connection to the local community. The 50 students are a tight-knit group. We plan many events that encourage students to forge professional connections off campus. For example, along with the marketing and visual design programs, we partnered with the Rochester Advertising Federation to run an advertising agency crawl. Students had the chance to visit agencies around our city and learn more about career options in our field. We also recently held a public relations career panel to connect students with professionals in the area."

Among the ways classes connect with the community: "My Persuasion and Health Communication students implement campus campaign initiatives to promote prosocial behaviors, such as reducing stress levels of college students and promoting mental health awareness. My Project Management class works with Rochester nonprofits to design and implement events focused on raising awareness and funds for community issues such as adult literacy and food insecurity. My students raised over $1,500 for these causes last semester.

What to expect from Lagoe

"I always try to encourage students to be as enthusiastic about course content as I am. Communication is an interesting, diverse, and relevant field. I continually try to emphasize this to students while also sparking engagement in the classroom through discussions, activities, assignments, and projects."

"I am most satisfied when I get to watch students grow and develop. College students are at a pivotal time in their lives. Many use this time to learn about themselves and solidify their purpose. I am fortunate to teach students in the communication and media major and minor throughout their college career. I meet many students as sophomores and get to see them graduate as seniors."

Lagoe loves Naz

Lagoe began teaching college students while obtaining her master's degree before she even turned 23. "During this time, I gained quite a bit of experience directing my own classes. Our mentors were very trusting of us and let us teach autonomously. Toward the end of my graduate work, I stopped teaching to work full-time on health campaigns and interventions. When doing this, I missed the passion teaching sparked in me." Lagoe accepted a position at Naz in 2015. "Fortunately, working at Nazareth has allowed me to move forward with teaching and professional/scholarly interests in health communication. This is a great fit for me!"

Courses I teach

  • Introduction to Media Studies
  • Media Ethics & Law
  • Communication Research Methods
  • Health Communication
  • Persuasion
  • Oral Communication

"One of my favorite courses to teach is Persuasion. It is really fun because it's so relevant to our daily lives. In class, we cover strategies to become more effective persuaders in interpersonal and mass-mediated contexts. We also talk about how important it is to carefully analyze the persuasive attempts of others. I love that this course easily lends itself to hands-on opportunities to promote important issues."

Carolyn Lagoe

About students

"Naz students are the most hardworking bunch of individuals I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Many students excel in their classes, participate in on-campus organizations, and have off-campus internships/jobs. This quality is admirable and leads to awesome experiences inside and outside of the classroom."

Outside Class

    • Lagoe loves to travel. Her ultimate goal is to set foot on all seven continents. (The mountain and water photo on this page is from Cape Town, South Africa.)
    • She enjoys running half-marathons.
    • She is education co-chair of the Rochester Advertising Federation.

    “Naz Talks Now”

    Students in Lagoe’s classes created a health campaign focusing on raising awareness of mental health issues. Check them out on Twitter and on Instagram.

    Student perspective

    “The moment I stepped into Carolyn Lagoe’s class my junior year, I was immediately impressed with how passionate she was about health communication. That year was difficult for me because I realized my current major wasn’t a good fit. She opened my eyes to communication, which led me to change my major to communication and media. Carolyn went out of her way to make sure that I knew how successful I will be, regardless of changing my major late. She gave me sound advice about my future, and took the time out of her busy schedule to constantly check on me. That kind of generous support is exactly why Carolyn Lagoe is one of the best professors here.”

    — Molly Stark ‘17

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