February 4, 2015//
Meet Renee Cowan. Growing up in a military family with multiple stops in North Dakota and Nebraska, she learned to adapt to her surroundings very quickly at an early age.
I can't tell you how many times I have seen an article that says the main things that employers are looking for are communication skills, listening skills and group skills.”
– Renee Cowan
The family's social butterfly, Cowan remembers always being attuned to people's conversations, emotional states and non-verbal reactions.
She enjoyed studying human interactions so much that she moved to Texas to pursue a degree in speech communication at the University of Texas at Austin.
After completing her degree, Cowan worked in advertising sales for four years with a national advertising corporation but craved more knowledge. She went on to earn master's and doctoral degrees in communication studies from Texas State University and Texas A&M University.
In 2010, Cowan joined UTSA and focused her research on work-life issues, particularly bullying and romantic relationships in the workplace.
"Those very much affect your interpersonal and your professional lives in very different ways," said Cowan. "When it comes to workplace bullying, I really look at the organizational actors more than I look at the targets or victims. I want to know how they see it, because it affects how it gets dealt with, how it is talked about and how it is understood in the organization."
Last year, Cowan partnered in an international research project to study workplace bullying in 15 countries. She and other researchers are analyzing the data and will soon publish the results.
In addition to her research, Cowan has rejuvenated UTSA's Communication Week activities that take place each April. The weeklong event allows students to network with communication professionals in the field, public relations experts, journalists and corporate communication leaders.
"I can't tell you how many times I have seen an article that says the main things that employers are looking for are communication skills, listening skills and group skills. These are skills we teach and it is so rewarding for our students to hear that from other successful professionals.
Cowan is proud to say her students have gone on to find employment at Rackspace, in local public relations firms and in the private sector, serving larger companies in corporate communications.
Do you know someone at UTSA who is achieving great things? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we might consider your submission for an upcoming installment of Meet a Roadrunner.