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.”

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.”