Grady Ph.D. students take home UGA Graduate School awards

Four Grady College Ph.D. students, JeongHyun (Janice) Lee, Taylor Voges, Jung Min Hahm and Youngji Seo, all recently received significant awards from the University of Georgia’s Graduate School. 

Each student was nominated by their faculty advisor and the Grady Graduate Office. The awards each provide recognition and/or support that will help the students complete their degrees and progress in their respective fields.

Janice Lee holding up her award.
Janice Lee received her award at the Delta Innovation Center on April 5. (Photo: Juan Meng)

Janice Lee receives UGA Graduate School Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award

Janice Lee, a third-year doctoral student researching in the areas of corporate communication, leadership and technologies, is the recipient of the UGA Graduate School 2021-2022 Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award. 

Administered by the Center for Teaching and Learning and sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Instruction, this award celebrates teaching assistants who show superior instruction skills while serving in the classroom or laboratory. 

“The award means a lot to me because we have been through the pandemic, and it seems to be a recognition for all of us who teach and learn in this unprecedented era of hardship,” said Lee. “I also appreciate Dr. Juan Meng, my advisor, who has advised me as a researcher and inspired me as a teacher. Lastly, with this award, I am able to strive to focus more on students’ educational experiences.”

Taylor Voges receives UGA Graduate School Dissertation Completion Award 

Taylor Voges, a third-year doctoral student researching public relations and ethics, is the recipient of a UGA Dissertation Completion Award for the 2022-23 academic year. 

This very competitive award recognizes UGA’s top doctoral students. It provides funding during the final year of study so that doctoral students can focus on their dissertation without having to be a departmental graduate teaching or research assistant.  

“The Dissertation Completion Award assistantship is such an amazing opportunity, and I will be forever grateful to the University and my mentors,” said Voges. “The Graduate School was impressed by my dissertation, and this award allows me to focus all my time and energy on my dissertation. I am beyond excited to research and work on my passion project. Here’s to setting a better public relations ethics foundation for current and future practitioners!”

Jung Min Hahm and Youngji Seo receive UGA Summer Doctoral Research Assistantships

Jung Min Hahm, a doctoral candidate researching persuasion in advertising, and Youngji Seo, a fourth-year doctoral student researching health and risk communication, each received a Doctoral Research Assistantship for the summer. This assistantship provides a $3,500 award to assist in dissertation writing and on-time degree completion.

“I am honored to be a recipient of this award! I’m in the very last stage of my Ph.D. journey, and this award will help me cross the finish line towards my degree completion,” said Jung Min. 

“I am so glad that Graduate School and Grady College recognized my effort by supporting and nominating me for this assistantship,” added Youngji. “I view this assistantship as an opportunity to improve my dissertation and complete my Ph.D. degree on time successfully.”

Ph.D. Profile: Rhoda Olaleye

Rhoda Olaleye is a third-year Ph.D. student focusing on advertising methods in emerging and existing communication spaces, more specifically social media. Her research explores the impact of social media advertising on consumer behavior as well as the outcomes of consumer interaction with social media influencers and personalities. Her current research examines the effectiveness of skinfluencer advertising through source credibility on the attitudes and behavioral intentions of people of color and has relevance in both health and science communication.

Prior to Grady, Olaleye worked at a media print house in Houston, Texas, where she gained experience in graphic design, content creation and content writing.

Following is a brief interview with Olaleye.

GC: What made you decide to pursue your Ph.D.?

RO: The need for more knowledge in my chosen area of specialty. I’m currently a third-year Mass Communications major with a focus in Advertising and an idea of what I want, careerwise, after graduation. But, I wasn’t always that sure of my career direction. Although I loved communications, I never had an “aha” moment that helped decide what area of communications I wanted to specialize in until I took an advertising class close to the completion of my master’s program. After graduation, I finally figured out my desired niche in advertising but felt like I wasn’t well equipped to move forward with the little I knew. I decided to pursue a Ph.D. because the program offered a structured avenue for me to learn more about a plethora of advertising approaches and elevate my already existing knowledge in the field with experienced and advanced educators.

GC: What do you hope to do once you get your degree?

RO: I hope to work in the advertising industry once I get my degree. My interests have been deeply entrenched in strategic communications as well as brand management, and I believe that my enrollment in this program has provided me with the advanced capability to synthesize complex problems while delivering visible solutions, which is an asset in the industry.

GC: What made you decide to come to Grady College?

RO: The program as well as the testimonial of current students. The University of Georgia is known for its high educational quality, and Grady College can be identified as one of the contributors to its prestige. Based on my online research, Grady College was described as a place where career preparation and student involvement were taken seriously. As my goals were career driven, my application was a no brainer.

GC: Please provide a brief explanation of your thesis topic and why it’s important to you.

RO: My dissertation is titled “Race and Sunrays: effects of skinfluencer credibility on consumer attitudes and behavioral intentions of people of color towards sunscreen.”

With the understanding that sunrays are an equal opportunity offender with no regard to ethnicity or race, this study intends to discover existing myths and beliefs that influence the use and purchase of sunscreens by people of color. It also intends to examine the effectiveness of influencer advertising through source credibility on the attitudes and behavioral intentions of people of color. Due to the idea that melanin provides certain protection from sun exposure, there has been a gap in the education of people of color in regards to their susceptibility to skin conditions such as melanoma, hyperpigmentation, etc.

This study is important to me because I hope it’s completion will spur a need for higher awareness and better targeted advertising of sunscreen products to people of color and assist in reducing their risk to various skin conditions connected with sun exposure.

Rhoda Olaleye poses outside of Grady College with an orange shirt on.
Olaleye earned her master’s degree at the University of Bridgeport and her bachelor’s degree at Crawford University. (Photo: Sarah E. Freeman)
GC: What other projects (research, teaching or otherwise) have you been involved with as a doctoral student?

RO: From my first year until now, I have worked as a research assistant on a humor-focused NSF research project under Dr. Michael Cacciatore. Although this research has strong roots in health and science communications, I find myself learning immensely from my experience.

GC: What has been the highlight of your doctoral education to date?

RO: The highlight of my doctoral education has to be the unending access to like-minded individuals. With my time spent in Grady, I truly believe that there are individuals always willing to assist and answer questions. In my opinion, this makes the entire academic journey much more pleasurable.

Ph.D. Profile: Leslie Klein

Leslie Klein is a current Grady College Ph.D. student concentrating in Journalism. Formerly a high school English, yearbook and journalism teacher, Klein is researching the intersection of media law and scholastic journalism. She plans to use her research to advocate for student speech and press rights.

Following is a brief interview with Klein.

GC: What made you decide to pursue your Ph.D.?

LK: I started my career as a high school English, journalism and yearbook teacher. While in that position, I became passionate about advocating for student press rights. There was a lot I learned about journalism on the job, but I wanted a formal education in the subject, and I wanted to dive deeper into this niche area that consumed so much of my time and interest.

Graphic with Klein's answers to three Q&A questions.

GC: What do you hope to do once you get your degree?

LK: I think of myself as a teacher first and researcher second, so I hope to find a position as a professor at a teaching institution after I graduate. I would also love to go back to advising because there’s something so special about the work that happens in a student newsroom. So fingers crossed there will be a college newspaper out there somewhere that’s looking for a new adviser when I’m on the job market!

GC: What made you decide to come to Grady College?

LK: When I was applying for my Ph.D., Dean Earnest Perry at the University of Missouri (where I got my master’s) recommended I add UGA to my list of potential schools because of the strong connections between the two programs. I ultimately chose Grady because I wanted the chance to work with my now-adviser Dr. Jon Peters, who is an absolute wealth of knowledge when it comes to communications law (and a great guy)!

GC: Please provide a brief explanation of your thesis topic and why it’s important to you.

LK: Student journalists are journalists. In many communities, college newspapers often function as the local paper of record. Yet, student journalism seems to be constantly under attack. (Look no further than Texas A&M, where university administrators just unceremoniously eliminated the print edition of their student newspaper.) I want to use my research to support student journalists and their advisers and advocate for the value that these organizations can bring to both their surrounding communities and the field of journalism as a whole.

Leslie Klein, Ph.D. student, stands on the walkway outside of Grady College.
Klein received her master’s degree in journalism law and conflict resolution from the University of Missouri and her bachelor’s degree in English education from Florida State University. (Photo: Sarah Freeman).
GC: What other projects (research, teaching or otherwise) have you been involved with as a doctoral student?

Since coming to Grady, I have had the opportunity to collaborate with several faculty members on research projects that are in various stages of development. The faculty here really want you to engage in research and take the lead on projects, and the program facilitates those connections for you so you are able to start researching right away. This summer, I will also be joining the Torrance Center for Creativity and Talent.

GC: What has been the highlight of your doctoral education to date?

Last month, I learned that the first paper I wrote as a first author was accepted to a journal, and that was such a rewarding feeling. Knowing that people find your contribution to the field valuable after you have spent months thinking about it and writing makes all the time spent on the project worth it!

Alumni Award Profile: Carolina Acosta-Alzuru

Carolina Acosta-Alzuru (MA’ 96, PhD’ 99) is this year’s recipient of the John Holliman, Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award, honoring a graduate for sustained contributions to the profession throughout a career.

Acosta-Alzuru is professor of public relations at Grady College. She teaches courses in public relations campaigns and cultural studies, specifically focusing on links between the media, culture and society. She has also published multiple articles and books on telenovelas – a subject she has been studying for over 20 years. 

She has won several awards for her teaching and research, including the 2015 AEJMC-Scripps Howard Foundation Journalism and Mass Communication Teacher of the Year for the United States and University of Georgia’s Josiah Meigs Distinguished Professorship. Her career has also taken her abroad to the United Kingdom, Chile and most recently Turkey, where she has conducted research on the tensions between the domestic and global markets for Turkish dramas.

Following is a brief interview with Acosta-Alzuru:

Grady College: What lessons learned from your time as a Grady College student have most helped you succeed in your professional life?

Carolina Acosta-Alzuru: Everything I needed to learn to become a professor and scholar I learned in our College, where I received both my M.A. and Ph.D. degrees. I learned how to turn my intellectual curiosity into rigorous research because I was taught by great researchers. I learned how to be a better teacher because I had fulfilling classroom experiences that challenged and nurtured me. I learned that mentoring is part and parcel of being an educator because I was superbly mentored. Most importantly, I learned in our College that having faith in the person you are teaching and mentoring is essential for their professional and personal development. I learned this because so many of my professors and fellow graduate students surprised me by believing, when I had no clue of this possibility, that I could become a good scholar and a good teacher. I am particularly appreciative of the lessons learned from my major professor and advisor, Dr. Elli Lester Roushanzamir, and from Dr. Pat Curtin, who was then a doctoral student. Their wisdom has guided me throughout my career, and I am extremely happy that Pat is also honored this year with the Distinguished Alumni Scholar Award.

Acosta-Alzuru with Dr. Elli Lester Roushanzamir hooding her as a new Ph.D in 1999. (Photo: courtesy of Carolina Acosta-Alzuru)
GC: What is it about your field that appeals the most to you? Why did you decide to enter that field?

CA: Understanding and unraveling the links between media, culture and society is what I do and what appeals the most to me.  I do this by studying some of the most consumed and, at the same time, most deprecated television genres: Latin American telenovelas and Turkish dramas. My preoccupation with the connections between media, culture and society is consonant with the way I see public relations, a field that has been traditionally viewed from an organizational perspective, but whose relationship with society is mutually transformative. I’m a believer in the many possibilities that public relations has of effecting positive societal change and I bring that belief into my classroom every day. 

GC: What does this recognition mean to you?

CA: The fact that weeks after the announcement of this award I’m still processing the news says how big and unexpected this recognition is for me. I remember watching with admiration John Holliman’s reporting from Bagdad in 1991, I was still in Venezuela then. I was a Ph.D. student in 1998 when the College was saddened and stunned with the news of his death. A year later he received, posthumously, the Lifetime Achievement Award. Soon after that I graduated and began my faculty life here.  These moments have been playing on my mind as I process the deep feelings of gratitude and surprise that this recognition elicits in me. 

Acosta-Alzuru (right) with fellow Grady Ph.D Usha Raman (left) in Hyderabad, India at the IAMCR conference in 2014.
GC: What motivates you?

CA: I love learning, and both teaching and research go hand in hand with learning. The fact that I love my work so much is one of my biggest treasures and the best motivator, of course. I enter the classroom every day in a good mood, ready for the experience of being both teacher and learner with my students. As for my research, I approach it every day with the same fascination it produced on me on day one, more than two decades ago. 

GC: Is there anything else you would like to share?

CA: I’m always looking at what’s ahead: my next class, my next research study, the next conference, and the next time I enter the Journalism building, a place where I’ve always been happy. This recognition, however, has made me stop and look back at the many wonderful people that have walked with me throughout the years: my professors, my students, my colleagues and the staff. All of them have embraced me, all of them have been my teachers, all of them have made this Lifetime Achievement Award possible. 

This is one in a series of profiles about our 2022 Alumni Award honorees and Fellowship inductees. 
All our honorees and inductees will be honored at Grady Salutes: Celebrating Achievement, Leadership and Commitment on April 29, 2022 at Athens Cotton Press. Please visit our Grady Salutes registration webpage for more details. 


Alumni Award Profile: Patricia Curtin

This is one in a series of profiles about our 2022 Alumni Award honorees and Fellowship inductees. 
All our honorees and inductees will be honored at Grady Salutes: Celebrating Achievement, Leadership and Commitment on April 29, 2022 at Athens Cotton Press. Please visit our Grady Salutes registration webpage for more details. 

Patricia A. Curtin (MA ’92, PhD ’96) is this year’s recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Scholar Award, honoring a graduate for excellence and sustained contributions to scholarship in journalism and mass communication education.

Curtin is a professor and endowed chair at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. After receiving her Ph.D. at Grady in 1996, she took a tenure-track position at UNC-Chapel Hill, where she received early promotion and tenure to associate professor and directed both the master’s and the doctoral programs. She then received an endowed chair and early promotion to professor at the University of Oregon.

Her research encompasses cross-cultural public relations, public relations history, and development of critical/postmodern approaches to public relations theory. She has won top research awards at international conferences and is the author of two books and numerous peer-reviewed book chapters and journal articles.

Following is a brief interview with Curtin:

Grady College: What does receiving the Distinguished Alumni Scholar Award mean to you?

Pat Cutin: The short answer is a lot. The long answer is that I came to Grady’s graduate program in my late 30s as a working mother of two. You don’t put yourself in the position of working full-time as a master’s student, raising tweens, and doing a graduate program unless you’re pretty motivated. My motivation was to get the best education I could so that I could demonstrate how the stories we tell, and how we tell them, make a difference. My research agenda has never been trendy, but instead has been driven by trying to give voice to disenfranchised groups and create shared understandings that allow us to develop better relations among diverse peoples. Part of telling those stories is to put them in the larger socio-political-economic context of the times. Grady gave me the broad knowledge base and tools to be able to do that. To have Grady recognize the work that I’ve done over the years to ensure we hear those voices in context is validation not only of what I’ve tried to accomplish but of the broad diversity/equity/inclusion perspective that Grady values, as well. My current work is centered on how the U.S. public relations profession developed in relation with organized labor. Grady’s recognition of my work is an immense honor at this point in my career.

Pat Curtin (second from right) with other Grady College Ph.D. students Usha Raman (MA ’83, PhD ’96), Melinda Robbins, Pat Curtin and Carolina Acosta-Alzuru (MA ’96, PhD ’99) at a IAMCR conference in Dublin, Ireland, in 2013. (Photo: courtesy of Carolina Acosta-Alzuru)
GC: Why is a cross-cultural perspective important?

PC: The research study I’m proudest of to date is one I completed while a Grady doctoral student in Dr. Wally Eberhard’s Media and War class. It told the story of the Japanese-American troops in World War II—how the media portrayed them in order to promote U.S. government objectives and how the media-savvy 442nd Regimental Combat Team used the media to advance its goals of recognition and acceptance. After the piece was published, I was contacted by a Japanese-American soldier who had served in the war who told me I “nailed” the story. In 2005, 10 years after that study was published, I sailed as an instructor on Semester at Sea, the experiential-learning study abroad ship that takes students to 10 different countries to experience comparative cultural insights. The cross-cultural term embraces a variety of levels, including not just international boundaries but also those of cultures within the United States, which are important to recognize and embrace. I think any good communicator needs to authentically connect with an audience—the ability to empathize, to see others’ perspectives, to realize the commonalities that unite us as well as the rich diversities that complement us and fully realize our humanity and potential.

GC: What are your favorite memories of your time at Grady College?
From L-R: Dale Harrison, James Rada (PhD ’97), Margie Morrison (PhD ’96), Elfriede Fursich (MA ’94, PhD ’98), Carolina Acosta-Alzuru and Pat Curtin. (Photo: courtesy of James Rada)

PC: When I think back to my time at Grady, it’s the people who stand out. Grady attracts top scholars from around the world, and the opportunity to learn from them is immense and priceless. My professors, across the board, exposed me to a rich variety of theoretical and methodological perspectives, and my own research is so much better and stronger for that. Grady professors didn’t give us a hammer and tell us the world was a nail. We were given a toolbox and the knowledge from which to choose the appropriate tool for the job. Additionally, Grady attracts an amazing cohort of graduate students to its competitive program. I also fondly think of the staff, who supported even lowly graduate students and made us feel part of the larger Grady family. My fellow students pushed me, supported me, and remain my close friends after all these years. I am honored beyond words to be sharing the awards ceremony this year with one of those people, Dr. Carolina Acosta-Alzuru, who is receiving the John Holliman, Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award.

GC: What advice do you have for someone considering getting a Ph.D.?

PC: Pick a program not for the one professor you want to study with simply because they study just the precise area you think you want to. Instead, be open to having your intellectual horizons widened to include areas you never considered before. Pick a program for its breadth and its rigor. Pick a program for the foundation it will give you to explore new areas of interest and for its ability to push you to become the best scholar you can be. Grady made me question many of my long-held beliefs, expand my conceptual and methodological breadth, and learn how to never back down from the hard questions.

Editor’s Note: the above has been edited for length and clarity. 


Haley Hatfield wins Top Paper award for research on racial bias in virtual reality

Haley Hatfield, a PhD student from El Dorado, Kansas, recently was awarded Top Paper honors from The Human Communication and Technology Division (HCTD) of the National Communication Association (NCA).

“I was a bit in shock, to be honest,” Hatfield said. “I care so much about this project and put so much of myself into it.”

Hatfield, along with her co-authors, submitted a paper titled: “Confronting Whiteness through Virtual Humans: A review of 20 years of research in prejudice and racial bias using virtual environments.”

The paper analyzes 53 studies that use virtual humans in the realm of video games or virtual reality and highlights areas where previous research did not display a historical understanding of racial inequality.

“When we interact with technology, it is easy to see it as being neutral or incapable of having biases,” Hatfield said of her research team’s findings. “It can be easy to forget that technology is created by biased humans and subsequently used by biased humans. And in many cases, these biases can become replicated within virtual spaces.”

Hatfield will present her findings to fellow researchers later this year in Seattle. (photo submitted)

Hatfield’s research is conducted in the Games and Virtual Environments Lab (GAVEL) with Grace Ahn and in the Brain, Body and Media Lab (BBAM) with Glenna Read. Hatfield’s focus is understanding the relationship between virtual reality and attitudes attributed to systemic racism and white privilege.

“I was so impressed with Haley’s tenacity and motivation,” said Ahn. “She always puts in a great deal of thought into her writing and every new draft she showed me was dramatically better than the earlier one.”

The paper emphasizes that virtual reality gives users a unique chance to feel experiences from others’ perspective. Hatfield says that opportunity makes it all the more important to be responsible and informed when portraying race in virtual environments.

“Moving forward, it will take a lot more listening from those who have been in the majority for so long and for those same people to continuously work to help uncover and responsibly dismantle systems of oppression within research and their personal lives,” said Hatfield.

Much of the research for this project occurred in the midst of the pandemic, when team collaboration was more difficult and feedback could be constrained due to distance. Ahn says those challenges made the work all the more impressive.

“She (Hatfield) is asking critical questions that force us to re-examine how we view and discuss technological advancements in communication, and I was glad that the reviewers agreed with us in seeing the significance of those discussions,” said Ahn. “We hope that this paper serves as an impetus to begin these difficult but important discussions. VR is a new and cool technology, but technological innovations alone are unable to resolve the problem of structural inequity and racism.”

This paper was Hatfield’s first submission to NCA. She will present the findings in person at NCA’s annual convention in Seattle in November.

Hatfield is in the AdPR track of the PhD program and aspires to become a tenured research professor where she can lead her own VR lab.

Ph.D. student profile: Andrea Briscoe

Many Ph.D. students return to school to study a subject they experienced first in the work world. Such is the case for Andrea Briscoe (ABJ ’12) who returned to study women who are freelance photojournalists.

While Briscoe did not do a lot of freelance work, she did gain experience as the official photographer for Governor Nathan Deal.

Her dissertation is focused on research gained from personal interviews.

“It has been an amazing opportunity to meet these women and to listen to their stories,” Briscoe said. “I feel honored to have the opportunity to learn from them, and I hope to share what I have learned in a way that provides meaningful, positive change for women in photojournalism.”

Briscoe’s work also focuses on the shift to digital news and the industry’s increased reliance on project-based work. Arguing that precarious work situations redefine the industry and those who can work in it, she explores how these changes have impacted women’s experiences working as freelance photojournalists.

“I’m very thankful to have Dr. Acosta-Alzuru as my chair, because she has been an amazing leader and mentor for me,” Briscoe continued. “She pushes me to be a stronger academic while also showcasing great care and empathy for me as an individual.”

As a graduate student, Briscoe teaches classes in photojournalism and has learned how to be an empathetic professor, as she has experienced from others.

“I learn a lot from my students when teaching introduction to photojournalism: the educational and personal roadblocks they encounter, their professional fears and concerns, their passions and dreams and so much more. All of these lessons are a constant reminder to continue to learn more about the field of photojournalism, particularly as it relates to diversity issues, so I can serve as the most effective leader for them in the classroom.”

Briscoe also appreciates the opportunity to travel to international academic conferences and present papers like she did when she traveled to Toronto in 2019 to present results from her study of gender and reality TV.

Andrea Briscoe had the opportunity to moderate a Women in Leadership panel at Grady College in March 2019.

While Briscoe has enjoyed the journey to earn her doctoral degree, she does offer a word of advice for students to take care of themselves and their mental health since studies show that graduate students are more likely than the average American to experience mental health disorders and depression.

“When considering pursuing a Ph.D. or deciding on what specific program you would like to attend, make yourself aware of the environment you’ll be in as well as the resources available to you,” Briscoe advises. UGA offers a myriad of mental health services available to all students including Counseling and Psychiatric Services and the Aspire Clinic, just to name a few.

Briscoe earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Grady College and decided to return after earning her master’s degree from Louisiana State University and working for several years.

“The biggest reason I decided to return to UGA for graduate school was the support I felt from faculty,” Briscoe said. “In particular, Mark Johnson was such an incredible source of support and my biggest advocate. I knew I would be able to go to him for teaching advice, to talk about research ideas regarding photojournalism, and to feel connected to the field through the various opportunities he provides for his students. Dr. Hume was also incredibly encouraging and expressed support of my academic and professional goals.”

Ph.D. student profile: Shuoya Sun

Shuoya Sun (MA ‘16) found that Grady College with its Digital Media Attention and Cognition (DMAC) Lab was the best place to pursue her research interests: how media context affects processing and evaluation of digital ads.

Sun said it was her previous job as a media planner that started her interest in consumer psychology.

“I wonder how consumers make decisions and how different media choices and environments affect their responses to ads,” Sun said of her interest. “I thought graduate school was the place to seek answers.”

Last Fall, Sun was the lead author on a paper that earned recognition at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication virtual conference. The paper, “How multitasking during video content decreases ad effectiveness: The roles of task relevance, video involvement, and visual attention” won third place in the Advertising Division and was co-authored by Bart Wojdynski, director of the Digital Media Attention and Cognition Lab and a Jim Kennedy New Media Professor; Matt Binford, Ph.D. student; and Charan Ramachandran, an undergraduate student.

Media multitasking is pervasive, and the research found that divided attention during multitasking may reduce how advertising is attended to and processed by consumers. Sun and her collaborators collected the data in an experiment with 153 participants, using the DMAC Lab’s eye-tracking equipment and through attitudinal and task-relatedness surveys completed by participants.

“The research aligns with my primary research interest and looks at the advertising format I like the most—in-stream video ads,” Sun said. “I’m grateful to my collaborators from the Digital Media, Attention, & Cognition Lab. It is their support and hard work that make this award more meaningful.”

Sun looks forward to expanding her research but is also interested in topics like ad effectiveness-related topics in green advertising and how humor may influence ad processing Sun also researches.

Not surprisingly, it’s the professors that make Grady stand out in Sun’s opinion.

Shuoya Sun (second from right) enjoys attending college activities like Dawgs with the Dean with other graduate students. Also pictured are Ph.D. students (from left) Andrea Briscoe, Youngji Seo and Marilyn Primovic. (Photo: contributed)

“I think the professors at Grady are really helpful,” Sun said. “They love to hear about your research ideas and work with you on a research project. They would also involve you in their projects when there is the chance.”

She also appreciates the funding opportunities through scholarships and graduate assistantships.

“Both at Grady and UGA at large, there are research-related funding opportunities to apply for,” Sun added.

Sun earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and journalism from the Communication University of China in Beijing. When she decided to return for her master’s education, she researched graduate schools online before deciding to apply to Grady College.

“I learned that it’s home of the renowned Peabody Award, offers different concentrations to suit student interests, and enjoys a good reputation nationwide,” she said of her decision. “In addition, it’s in a southern state of subtropical climate with mild winters,” she added half-jokingly.

Sun plans to find a job in research once she has her degree.

“A relaxing short vacation is also desired,” she concludes.

Ph.D. student profile: Solyee Kim

Solyee Kim (MA ’16) is a Ph.D. student interested in diversity, equity and inclusion in public relations and media practices. Her research focuses on the experiences of marginalized communities including immigrants and racial and ethnic minorities in the practices and industries of public relations and media practices.

“Immigrants are some of the marginalized groups in the practices and research of journalism and mass communication,” Kim, a native of South Korea, said of her area of study. “By highlighting these experiences in my research, I would like to share some of the vibrancy and dynamics of those communities that are far from monolithic.”

Last Fall, Kim’s research about how South Korean restaurants promote their restaurants in the U.S. was recognized by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. The paper, “Communicating the Culture Through Korean Food Between Authenticity and Adaptation,” won third place in the student paper competition in the Minorities and Communications Division.

“This was my first time attending an academic conference and having my work presented as the first author. The award was a great reminder and encouragement to continue on this path.”

Her research used the Circuit of Culture framework that she learned about in Dr. Acosta-Alzuru’s qualitative research course to examine representation, production, consumption, identity, and regulation of the restaurants. Kim explained that she has always enjoyed exploring food culture.

“Since I first came to the U.S., this became more significant to me because food plays a critical role in understanding the different cultures that make up this country and my identity here. I spend a lot of time on the weekend in areas known for vibrant immigrant communities such as Buford Highway and Duluth to shop for groceries or to eat (although I have not been able to do that as much as I would like to due to COVID-19). In a highly multicultural country such as the United States, those immigrant communities play vital roles by providing economic, political, and cultural structures to many lives. I believe that food is imperative to understand those communities and their relationships with other communities.”

Kim said that it is a team effort to conduct research like this.

“I have so many staff, faculty, colleagues, and students to thank at the College and beyond,” Kim concluded. “It takes a whole village to get a Ph.D. In my case, the village might be a global one. I would also like to share my special thanks to my advisor, Dr. María Len-Ríos, and the advising committee members—Dr. Karen Russell, Dr. Bart Wojdynski, and Dr. Glenna Read—for always encouraging me and providing creative and invaluable insights.”

Before returning to Grady College to pursue her doctorate degree, Kim worked at a public relations firm in Atlanta and interned with a wide range of non-profit organizations including the United Nations Non-Government Liaison Service in New York, the International Rescue Committee in Atlanta, the Korean Federation of UNESCO and the Special Olympics. Prior to working in public relations, she worked as a freelance translator and interpreter traveling to the United States and the Middle East for various companies.

She earned her master’s degree in journalism and mass communication with a concentration on public relations from Grady College and a bachelor’s degree in German language and literature with a minor in political science and diplomacy from Chung-Ang University in Seoul, South Korea.

Scholarships help doctoral students with summer research

While many Grady College students were enjoying summer internships or travel, others were continuing the work they do throughout the school year—researching communications topics that often contribute to dissertation proposals.

Sixteen doctoral students were awarded scholarships this summer to offset research expenses. The scholarships were awarded from the Paul C. and Margaret B. Broun Student Support Fund.

“The scholarship funds I received during my first year of the Ph.D. program at Grady College are significant in helping me achieve my research goals and aide me in finding my identity as a scholar,” Andrea Briscoe said.

Briscoe, who is starting her second year as a graduate student, focused most of her research this summer on gender and visual media, a topic she presented at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication conference last week.

The funds offset the costs of travel to the conference in Toronto.

The Broun Scholarship helped support Andrea Briscoe’s conference travels to Toronto, her first international trip. (Photo: courtesy of Andrea Briscoe.)

Briscoe continued: “While attending conferences are the expectation for graduate students, this conference meant more to me than a line on my CV. With help through funding of the graduate program along with this scholarship, I was able to share the work I had done on gender and reality television with a diverse group of people. I was able to sit in the same room with incredible scholars and creative thinkers and learn from them. But most importantly, I received numerous calls and texts from family where they shared how proud they were of me.”

Hyoyeun Jun, another doctoral student who was granted a scholarship from the Broun fund, also conducted research this summer that was presented at the AEJMC conference and will serve as a foundation for her dissertation.

Her research focuses on developing the most effective messages to overcome the stigma surrounding HPV and to increase behavioral intention by young adults to get vaccinated. She spent the summer gathering data on risk tolerance, or how individuals tolerate new health risks. The information will be used to determine what factors influence people not to behave in a certain way. Jun presented some of the qualitative research findings at AEJMC.

Jun, who is a native of South Korea and is studying here with a student visa, has specific requirements for work, including the fact that she cannot work outside of campus. Therefore, the funds from the scholarship are a vital form of support.

“With generous support from Grady scholarships, I could sustain myself better,” Jun said. “I could concentrate better on my research, not worrying about how I am going to pay my rent and get groceries. I am very thankful that Grady awarded me scholarships additional to my assistantship during the semester.”