When I graduated from high school, I attended a community college in my hometown. At the time, I loved reading and writing, so I decided to pursue my A.A. degree in Communication. My coursework included many public speaking classes but also many literature classes, and my passion for dissecting novels and short stories grew. In addition to this love of books and of thinking and writing critically about books, I developed a passion for leadership. My small community college offered me many opportunities to grow my leadership potential. I joined and actively participated as a Student Ambassador, a Senator in the Student Government Association, and with Phi Theta Kappa among other clubs and organizations.
When it came time to transfer to a university, I knew I wanted to attend the University of Florida. I decided to seek a B.A. in English, and I took a wide variety of literature classes. My favorite course was Irish Literature, where I read The Autobiography of Maud Gonne; Elizabeth Bowen; and, for the first time, a whole lot of James Joyce. Irish Literature quickly became my favorite genre. After graduation, I pursued a Master of Arts degree from the University of North Florida because of its many course offerings in Irish fiction, drama, and poetry. Outside of the classroom, I read Southern authors like William Faulkner, Cormac McCarthy, Flannery O’Connor, and Truman Capote.
After graduating with my M.A. in 2008, I took a few years off from attending school as I transitioned into a teacher role. I taught classes at a community college and then at a university. Four years later, I returned to higher education for a second M.A. in Communication from the University of Central Florida. I’ve been taking one class at a time since 2012, which moves slowly but gives me ample time to read, study, and consider my path.
This semester, I am taking a communication theory course which comes at the perfect time in my academic career. I am considering PhD programs as well as the kind of research I want to do in the future. Now that I have almost completed 15 graduate COM hours, I can also begin thinking seriously about my thesis. But there was and still is a problem… I haven’t quite figured out how my previous interests while pursuing my M.A. in English will intersect with my current M.A. in Communication. Where would the research collide? How could I mesh both worlds together?
Answering these questions started with an important first step. In my discipline, scholars are either qualitative or quantitative researchers, and I knew after only a few semesters that I am 100% qualitative. Since most of my professors were quantitative scholars, I knew I had to network to find people with similar interests to guide me. My classmate suggested I talk to Dr. Sandoval, and as soon as I stepped into her office, I knew I’d found a mentor. Her work, her thought process, and her focus inspired me. After 45 minutes of talking with me, she sent me on my way with three books on critical theory that I haven’t been able to put down. In addition to my favorite professor, Dr. Hastings, I’ve now connected with the people who will shape the researcher I plan to become.
Learning about all kinds of communication theory this semester has gotten me closer to identifying exactly what I want to research and study as I continue with my PhD. I am interested in critical theory, social constructionism, feminism, dialogue, and identity. I want to learn much more about ethnography. I also want to keep looking for where those communication interests meet with my favorite literary works and authors.
I can’t wait to finally find my path and to forge ahead with new research that will invigorate me and maybe even inspire others! Are there any other Communication graduate students out there struggling with identifying their research interests? I’d love to hear from you!