Major(s): Political Science, Journalism Ethics (CIS)
Concentration: Media Studies
Current Position: Recent Ph.D. graduate
What is your current position? What are your responsibilities?
I recently completed my PhD in mass communication at the University of Minnesota. My dissertation, Journalism in the Age of Social Media: The Case of the “In Memorial: Virginia Tech” Facebook Group, examined the April 16, 2007, Virginia Tech Shootings and the social media conversations that emerged in the aftermath of those shootings. I am currently on the academic job market.
Why did you choose to pursue a career in this field?
I love teaching and researching about the media because it is changing right before our eyes. We are more connected now than ever before, a reality that brings both opportunities and challenges. In my teaching, I encourage students to think critically about the implications of the media’s expansive reach, and how they as students can utilize alternative media to give voice to their needs and wants. In my research, I work to more fully understand the implications of the changing media environment for the future of journalism and mass communication.
How did you gain the experience necessary for this position?
I use the qualities I learned at St. Olaf College on a daily basis. My time at St. Olaf taught me to be curious, to think across disciplines, and to look for connections across seemingly disparate fields. The great thing about a liberal arts education is that it is slightly different for everyone who takes that path: we come to the liberal arts experience with our own passions, spend four years cultivating those passions, and hopefully come away from the experience with a fuller understanding of ourselves and our place in the world.
How did your Media Studies coursework or experiences help you get where you are today?
The media studies program gave me a place to engage my interests across media and politics, across communication and society. What the program does especially well in my experience is to meet students where they are, and then help students build an experience that is tailored to their future. I loved working on the Messenger, studying the social implications of the media and taking classes across the concentration, because it provided a meaningful springboard for my master’s and doctoral experiences.
Any advice you would give a Media Studies student knowing what you know now?
My only advice is to take as many courses as you can–delve into the course listings–and look for connections to and from the media across the curriculum. Media Studies touches every St. Olaf major and concentration, and this is an especially exciting time to be thinking about (and rethinking) what the media means for our lives and our work.