Graduate School Update


This is the final week of my first semester back in graduate school!  I am currently attending the University of Central Florida to earn a second M.A. degree in Communication.  The first class I completed was called Legal and Ethical Issues in Communication and was an insightful look at the First Amendment as it relates to new media.  My research paper studied symbolic speech on Facebook: the Facebook “Like.”

So far, I’ve really enjoyed my experience at UCF.  The Nicholson School of Communication is small and intimate; the faculty are super supportive of students’ research interests; and the Graduate Program Coordinator is encouraging and helpful.

On our final day in class, my law professor gave us all a copy of “Creating a Research Agenda” by Justin Reedy and Madhavi Murty.  This “how to” delivers some insight as to what a research agenda is; how to develop one; and advancing that agenda.

The handout couldn’t have come at a more perfect time, as over the weekend, I began creating my own research agenda.  This week, after finishing my first semester, I’m really starting to put together something concrete, and I wanted to share it with you!

1) Instructional Communication.  I am very interested in how students and teachers interact to find out what kind of relationship creates the best learning environment.  As you know from my “Superteachers” series, being the best possible teacher is something I constantly study and promote, so I’d love to dive into student-teacher communication in the classroom and student-teacher communication online.

2) Written, Verbal, and Visual Communication.  To be an effective communicator, one must study written communication; verbal and nonverbal communication; and visual communication.  These three intersect when it comes to communicating with students in the classroom, and they intersect when presenting to an audience.  I want to study where else the three intersect and why it is important to consider, to learn, and to develop all three in order to be an effective communicator.

3) Public Speaking and Presentation.  Obviously, this is one of my greatest passions in life, and I have read and studied everything I could get my hands on over the last three years.  I do already consider myself well-read, knowledgeable both in study and in practice, and this is a huge focus area I want to continue studying for the rest of my life.

4)  The intersection between my current M.A. and my future M.A.  I want to see how I can combine my previous M.A. in English with the degree I’m working on, my M.A. in Communication.  What new avenues can I go down that I never even imagined?  I can’t wait to see the connections I make between the two graduate degrees as I move forward with my coursework.

Next semester, I am taking Interpersonal Communication, so I hope this class more closely aligns to my research focuses areas.  I also have plans for an Independent Study, so I am on the lookout for professors at UCF who share my research interests so that I can work with someone (or a team) of people who are experts in the areas I’m obsessed with learning more about.

I have so many hopes and dreams for the future… I definitely want to pursue a PhD, but I’m not sure what kind of PhD just yet.  I also want to earn a degree in visual communication/graphic design to help supplement my M.A. degrees in written and verbal/nonverbal communication.

Are you currently enrolled in grad school?  How is your experience working full time and going to school part time?


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