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.
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.”