Charley Sain, Strategic Communication


Name: Charley Sain

College: College of Fine Arts and Communication

Major: Communication with a concentration in strategic communication

Age: 41

Classification/Year: Graduate student

Hometown: Lawndale, NC

Hobbies/interests: Spending time with family, hearing my daughter practice her music lessons, reading fantasy novels, painting, game nights, cooking and baking, and traveling to the mountains. Walking my dog, Duke, is one of my favorite things. I love working with my students and my peers in the cosmetology department at Cleveland Community College. The students have no idea how much they inspire me to be better each day. I am grateful to work with so many amazing individuals each day.

Clubs and Organizations: Graduate Professional Student Senate


Favorite hangout: Home

Favorite places to eat: Carrabba’s and LongHorn Steakhouse

Favorite class: COMM 6999 Applied Communication Capstone/Project

Professors who influenced you the most: Dr. Keith Richards and Dr. Ericka Johnson have influenced me the most. I will forever be grateful for the education and opportunities that they have provided me. I have never met such dedicated and inspiring professors. Their passion for the communication industry shines through their work.

Favorite TV show: “Supernatural”

Favorite band/musician: My daughter, Olivia, plays drums and guitar.

Favorite movie: “Rocky” and “The Expendables”


Dream jobs: My dream is to teach communication as I am passionate about working with adult learners. Sharing knowledge and helping others better their lives by helping them build a brighter future. 

Role model: My grandparents, Paul and Joyce Honeycutt, are my role models. Their unwavering support and love impacted who I am today.

Your words to live by: Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t accomplish your goals. Dream big, work hard, and stay true to yourself.

What advice do you have for other students? Don’t procrastinate. And communicate with your professors.

What is something cool about ECU that you wish you knew during your first year? I wish I knew about all of the amazing resources the college has to offer. Carol Woodruff in career services, helped me with a writing project.

Charley Sain draws on her own experience as a first-generation college student and 20 years in the cosmetology field when she tells her students they can succeed.

“If you’re hard working and dedicated, you can accomplish anything, but you have to pull it out of yourself. Nobody can do it for you,” she said. “Your professors can encourage and help you, but I think it’s a journey to find yourself.”

Sain has juggled long hours being a mom, wife and full-time instructor at Cleveland Community College (CCC) while taking online classes at East Carolina University since 2019. The 41-year-old completed her first two years at CCC in Shelby before transferring to ECU’s School of Communication, where she earned a bachelor’s degree with a concentration in interpersonal and organizational communication in 2021. With that goal achieved, Sain kept going. She will earn her master’s degree with a concentration in strategic communication this week. Her research has focused on interpersonal communication in classroom environments and student success.

All along, she’s had the support of her family, friends and coworkers while setting an example for her 12-year-old daughter, Olivia. “She’s inspired me to go to school. I can’t expect things from her that I didn’t do for myself, so I think that was one of my reasons for coming back to school.”

Her path to two ECU degrees also comes from wanting to help her students, who as hands-on practitioners sometimes struggle in the general education courses that are required for an associate degree. Communication skills are essential in personal and professional relationships, especially cosmetology.

“Communication is everything in the beauty industry. You can tell whether a client likes their hair because of the way they sit or position themselves, or their facial expression changes; you can really see that non-verbal communication. With their verbal communication, you can definitely tell,” Sain said. “It kind of goes hand in hand because our students today are very technology oriented and a lot are introverted. They want to be in the cosmetology industry, but they don’t know how to talk to people. They don’t know how to get out of them what their needs are and what they want. It’s really important for them to have those skills to be able to communicate in a professional way and to make sure their client is getting what they want.”

Sain has a passion for working with first-generation students like herself. “I want to show them that you don’t have to settle, you don’t have to work a minimum wage job, you can go to school, and you can do it no matter what others say,” she said. “I would like to give them the positivity and encouragement they need to go to school for whatever their passion is, so they can be successful and be able to provide for their families.”

Sain was recently promoted to faculty academy guide for all new faculty members at CCC, where she onboards and mentors new faculty during their first year, providing support and training across campus. This spring, she looks to take on more responsibilities by becoming a communication instructor at the college.

Not surprisingly, Sain is considering pursuing a doctoral program at ECU, with an interest in working with adult learners. “I think adult learners have a lot to lose, and they have the most potential to grow. I think if you can help them, give them a career or the skills that they need to be successful, it’s legendary. It’s a legacy and something that will never go away.”

Sain said she chose ECU because of its extensive range of online courses. After calling and talking with several professors, she really liked the culture they embodied. “I felt like if I got in a jam and I was struggling that they would give me the encouragement and resources I needed to be successful,” Sain said. “And my brother went here. He absolutely loved it. That was also inspiring. And for my master’s degree, I just loved it, so I stayed. Why would I go anywhere else? I bleed purple at this point.”