UGA MFA Film program goes green

Film sets are hubs for creation. They are where concepts and ideas turn into visual, captivating works of art. But, unfortunately, television shows and movies aren’t the only thing created on film sets. Historically, film sets have also been notorious for creating tons of waste, pumping plastic water bottles, plates, utensils, coffee cups and more into landfills.

The UGA Master of Arts in Film, Television and Digital Media program, however, is on a mission to make sure that on its sets, waste is as minimal as possible. 

Matt Hudgins, sitting, on the set of his short film “Wokelahoma.”
Matt Hudgins, sitting, on the set of his short film “Wokelahoma.” This shoot used all natural light and rechargeable batteries, so no generator was utilized. Over 80 percent of the props, set dressing and costumes used were already owned, borrowed or thrifted, and all newly purchased costume elements were taken home for use by crew and cast members. Location scouting was done via carpool in a hybrid car. (Photo: Meg Barker)

Leading this sustainability charge is current MFA Film student Matt Hudgins, who, after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in history from UGA in 2009 and before enrolling in the MFA Film program in 2022, spent years on film sets working primarily in craft services, providing food and beverages to film and television crews. 

“There are tons of sets that don’t have, in practice, a real recycling program,” said Hudgins. “They might throw some recycling bins out, but there is not enough manpower or signage to manage that or advance crew education.” 

“Tons and tons of food gets wasted on a lot of sets and goes to the landfill,” he added, “which creates methane gas. Food waste, really, is a resource. If it is treated correctly, it doesn’t become food waste. It becomes a food resource.”

Soon after enrolling in the MFA Film program, Hudgins applied for and received a UGA sustainability grant, which enabled him to serve as the program’s sustainability supervisor. In this role, Hudgins is in charge of purchasing materials needed to improve the sustainability practices of the program, contacting partners and making connections to help the program achieve its goals, and leading the charge on helping the program make it into the Green Film School Alliance (GFSA), a group of film schools across the United States committed to reducing the environmental impact of content production. 

“We intend to join The Green Film School Alliance, in good company with all top-tier film schools in the nation, with full compliance of environmentally sustainable set practices: no single-use plastic bottles; all trash must be separated for maximal recycling, and food waste must be composted,” said Neil Landau, executive director for the MFA Film program.

Hudgins has been weighing and tracking the MFA Film program’s waste and practices throughout the year in preparation to submit a GFSA application by the end of the spring 2023 semester. 

“The sets I’ve been on that do it well, they have a dedicated sustainability team that will handle all of the waste on set,” said Hudgins. “They have lots of signage. They have people who are dedicated to being there, at the high traffic areas to make sure things go to the right bin, whether that’s compost, recycling or landfill.”

“Even just the attention and commitment to educate and emphasize putting things in the right bin can make a huge difference,” he added. “Our program is eliminating single-use plastics as much as possible. We’re focusing on reusables.”

Landau explained that additional sustainability efforts include encouraging carpooling to and from locations, using reusable canvas bags, and using recyclable cardboard and/or reusable containers for transporting craft services and catering for cast and crew. 

The program has already purchased reusable water bottles, which can be filled at water stations both on campus and at Athena Studios, a state-of-the-art learning center and studio space used by the program.   

“This is not only good for the planet, but will also save student filmmakers from purchasing bulk water bottles for single use,” said Landau. “It’s win-win for everybody, especially for Mother Nature.”

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!

Ph.D. Profile: Farrah Youn-Heil

Growing up with immigrant parents, Aarum (Farrah) Youn-Heil said she feels like television and movies helped raise her. From a young age, it stuck out to Youn-Heil that not everyone she saw on the screen looks like she does. She wondered: “If people saw Asians on TV as outsiders, would they see me like that too?”

It’s that very question that inspired Youn-Heil to seek her Ph.D. from Grady College’s department of Entertainment and Media Studies.

“Pursuing my Ph.D. has provided me an avenue to keep exploring the impact that TV and movies have on people of color,” said Youn-Heil. “Beyond that, I’m curious how we communicate about race interracially and how TV could be a pedagogical tool for difficult racial conversations.”

Graphic indicating Youn-Heil's answers to three questions: Why pursue your Ph.D? Why Grady? and What do you want to do with your degree?

Ultimately, Youn-Heil, who received her master’s in interpersonal communications from UGA in 2020, wants to use her doctoral degree to become a professor and a researcher. She is eager to help facilitate conversations about race and media both inside and outside of the classroom.

 “I hope to be an educator that encourages students to question who and what they see on the screen,” Youn-Heil said. 

As a doctoral student over the past two years, Youn-Heil has conducted interviews with individuals about their experiences with interracial communication apprehension.

“During a time of social distancing and a rise of racial violence, people of color struggle having conversations about race interracially,” she explained. “Personally, I see how it has impacted our mental health as well.”

Throughout her time on campus, Youn-Heil has also prioritized helping those pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees at UGA build their communication skills.

As the communications consultant with the Division of Academic Enhancement’s Presentation Collaboratory, Youn-Heil helps students strengthen their public speaking abilities and overcome communication apprehension. And while working as a graduate assistant for the organization International Student Life last summer, Youn-Heil and her peer ran a workshop series solely for international doctoral students at UGA.

“The workshops were dedicated to building their intercultural communication skills and creating thought-provoking research conference presentations,” explained Youn-Heil. “It was an amazing experience getting to be creative and collaborate with a doctoral student in another discipline! I learned so much!”

Farrah Youn-Heil at the Division of Academic Enhancement’s Presentation Collaboratory on campus.
Youn-Heil at the Division of Academic Enhancement’s Presentation Collaboratory on campus. (Photo: Submitted)

Youn-Heil went on to explain how grateful she has been for her time at Grady, learning from and working with top scholars dedicated to her research.

When asked if she has any advice for someone considering pursuing a Ph.D, Youn-Heil said: “Take advantage of your curiosity, and go for it! I never felt like a school person. But, as a doctoral student, I think of it less as school and more as a time to be an explorer.”



#ProfilesOfTenacity: Riley Armant

Why did you choose Grady and your course of study? 

Being that I am a COVID-19 graduate, I knew that the job market was not ideal for me. I decided that a master’s degree was the best option for me. The idea of going to school again was not the most appealing, but it has been the best decision I have made so far. I want to be a great storyteller and journalist. I knew that Grady is the best of the best, therefore I felt as though it was only right to join the UGA community.

What does the word “tenacity” mean to you? 

Tenacity, in my opinion, means possessing the determination to reach a personal goal or level of success. Having this quality also means that you won’t settle for anything less than what you envision.

What is your most memorable Grady experience? 

Being able to get into the Newsource class, hands down. This was definitely the hardest class I have ever taken but I am a better journalist because of it.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about connecting with my community and creating a platform for their voices to be heard. Like I have said before, I want to be a great storyteller and journalist, so a personal passion of mine is to create this platform. I also want to join the efforts to restore trust in news media, especially in the Black community. I have personal passions for things like fine arts (especially dance), food, and music.

Armant was previously an intern with WJBF News Channel 6.
What has been your proudest moment in the past year? 

Creating a newsreel from my summer internship and Grady Newsource that I feel confident in!

Who is your professional hero? 

A few of my favorites are Angela Rye, Maria Taylor (even though I don’t have a huge interest in sports) and Jeannette Reyes.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I am classically trained in ballet and danced for a solid 15 years.

What is your favorite app or social media channel and why? 

My favorite social media app is Tik Tok because it’s almost like a search engine. I go there for news, makeup reviews and clothing reviews. Instagram has always been a favorite of mine as well, but I would say that I frequent Tik Tok more often.

What are you planning to do after obtaining your degree? 

I have plans to become a multi-skilled Journalist. Later in my career, my goal is to be an anchor and a great storyteller overall.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from an instructor, mentor or family member? 

“As a journalist you will always get better interactions if you lead with honey” Ralitsa Vassileva, the Grady Newsource professor, gave us this advice before we started doing live shows. To me, this meant that you should always go into an interview with a positive attitude and grace. By doing this you begin to build a bond with your source and which enables you to tell an amazing story.


First-year MFA Film students premiere short films

Many first semester graduate students spend the end of the semester stressing about finals, but students in the MFA Film program face another type of stress: producing films that will engage audiences.

Imagine the added pressure of creating a full story that is shown in 4 minutes or less, with three characters or less and that has no dialogue.

Such was the final semester assignment for the nineteen MFA Film students in Bryan Cole’s Introduction to Directing class who premiered their films in front of an audience of fellow students, professors, family and friends on Dec. 9.

Story plots introduced the audience to characters who learned lessons about themselves ranging from the agonizing struggle to make a connection at a match-making mixer to the fear of fighting addiction and the pain in losing a loved one.

The trailer above features short clips from each of the films produced by the first-year MFA Film students.
The first-year students spent weeks writing, blocking, recruiting, filming and editing their stories. And, since these projects were produced on very small budgets, the students had to rely on each other to serve as camera operators, sound engineers, editors and other roles required in film production.

Recruiting resources and exploring creative vision are some of the most important lessons of the program.

For Rebecca Myers, getting to know the cohort and learning to lean on each other has been the highlight of the semester.

“Truthfully, to learn to trust each other with tasks in a creative atmosphere that’s so welcoming and assertive and go-getting…I love that,” Myers said.

Albin Pepe, another first-year student, agrees.

“I wanted to avoid the culture of film schools in New York and LA,” Pepe said about his decision to apply to UGA’s MFA Film program. “I don’t see anyone in the program as my competitor. We are all collaborators. We are all like family. We are trailblazers. We are all friends.”

Pepe adds that the growth of the film industry in the state of Georgia is another draw to this program.

“Independent film in Georgia is growing and here to stay,” Pepe said.

The Master of Fine Arts in Film, Television and Digital Media program was introduced in 2019 as  joint project between Grady College and Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, and this class is the second cohort of students. Students spend their first year in Athens, Georgia, learning writing and technique and their second year in Fayetteville, Georgia, at Georgia Film Academy at Trilith working on more involved projects. Instead of a traditional MFA Film program that covers three years, the UGA MFA Film program covers six semesters in two years, including summers.

“It’s a lot of work,” admitted Bryan Cole, who teaches the directing class to first-year students.  “Balancing the production side with the writing side is work-intensive. As one of the students said, ‘I’ve never worked so hard in my life.’”


Glen Nowak shares goals of graduate studies at Grady College

In the first few weeks as the Grady College’s new associate dean for research and graduate studies, Glen Nowak has welcomed a new group of first-year graduate students, strategized with fellow faculty members and begun his new UGA administration responsibilities. In his new role, Nowak knows the value that Grady College students and faculty bring to other researchers and instructors on campus.

Nowak was named the associate dean for research and graduate studies at Grady College in 2021.

“We are an asset to the larger UGA academic ecosystem because of our expertise in communications technology and content,” Nowak said at a recent “Lunch and Learn” presented by Grady College.

Nowak was an Advertising and Public Relations Department faculty member from 1989 to 1998, and since rejoining the faculty in January 2013. In between, he spent 14 years at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He joined CDC in 1999 as communications director for CDC’s National Immunization Program, a position he held for six years before becoming the agency’s director of media relations.

Nowak told graduate students and fellow faculty that Grady College is well qualified to help lead UGA with its strategic goals because the media and communication expertise, work and research in the College are highly valued by a wide arrange of disciplines. He said it promotes collaborations with other researchers here and at other organizations because Grady faculty can bring needed perspectives and tools, including communication technologies, to projects that need or want well-design communication strategies or materials. In addition, the media and communication skills and experiences that Grady provides graduate students well equip them for securing employment upon graduation.

“Employers value our graduate students particularly when it comes to research skills and communication capabilities,” Nowak said.

Ultimately, Nowak says the main goal for graduate studies at Grady College is to help PhD and master’s students achieve their learning and career goals.

“Our students graduating and having accomplished their goals and objectives — that is what success looks like,” Nowak said.

Other graduate studies goals include increased university and public visibility, achieving success with external funding proposals and involved in research collaborations with faculty across UGA.

Ph.D. Profile: Marcus Howard

Marcus Howard is reaching the final stretch of his doctoral degree and he can look back knowing he packed a lot into his time at UGA.

While at Grady College, Howard taught several classes including newswriting and Journalism Ethics and Diversity; he wrote a book about media literacy called “How Journalists and the Public Shape our Democracy: From Social Media and ‘Fake News’ to Reporting Just the Facts;” and he worked as a graduate assistant with the UGA at Oxford program.

“Learning from University of Oxford faculty and mentoring undergraduates has been an incredible experience,” Howard said.

Howard earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Boston College and a master’s degree in political and global affairs journalism from Columbia University before enjoying a career as a reporter for Reuters, the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, among others. He soon realized he missed the in-depth discussions and atmosphere that academia provides.

“I also wanted to deepen my knowledge and understanding of issues surrounding politics, race and media,” Howard continued. “Ideally, I would like to work at a university in a position that would allow me to also continue writing for mass audiences in some capacity.”

While at Grady College, his research has focused on political and international communication with an emphasis on race, culture and social movements, and it is through his teaching that he has earned a more varied understanding of his studies.

“Teaching has been rewarding because the process forced me to consider journalism from a broader perspective than what one experiences as a reporter knee-deep in it. Studying the history, concepts, great stories and future of journalism, along with students, has given me new perspectives of the profession.”

Marcus Howard is teaching Journalism Ethics and Diversity this semester.

As he nears the end of his studies, he advises that students considering going back to school for a doctorate degree should seriously consider the amount of work and sacrifice involved.

“Ultimately, it’s a rewarding journey, but one not without some hardships,” Howard concludes. “Having a clear idea of what you want to study and which faculty researchers you’d like to work with are very helpful. And, having emotional support and/or an outlet for stress are invaluable.”

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.

Lexie Little: From Hearst Award to study of Confederate monuments

It’s been an eventful summer for Lexie Little.

The season started out in a great way for the journalism graduate student when she heard she was the recipient of a coveted Hearst Award, and the summer has only intensified as her master’s thesis topic has become one of the talked-about topics of the summer—the study of Confederate monuments.

In May, Little was notified that she was the recipient of a Hearst Award in the Personality/Profile category. The Hearst Awards are some of the most competitive collegiate awards for writing and journalism, and Little was nominated by the University of Tennessee for a feature she wrote as an undergraduate student there. The piece was about UT alumnus Clarence Brown, a well-known director of movies from the 1920s to the 1940s. The piece, “A Roustabout Career: The Forgotten Celebrity of Clarence Brown,” was published in the “Torchbearer,” the UT alumni magazine.

Learning that she was one of ten winners out of a field of more than 120 entries fueled Little’s next project: research for her master’s degree thesis. What she didn’t realize back in February when she finished the first draft of her study proposal is that her subject — collective memory of four Confederate monuments — would be topical in today’s environment with protests surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement.

“My research over the past few months has given me deeper context to process the news now,” Little said. “It’s helped me understand how a cultural site like a monument can be deeply symbolic to some people while marginalizing another segment of the population.”

Little’s research is focused on four monuments that were erected nearly 30 years after the Civil War and beyond — the Robert E. Lee monument that is being contested for a move in Richmond, Virginia; a monument in Chicago built as reconciliation for Confederate prisoner of war camps during the Civil War; a since-removed bust to Robert E. Lee in New York City; and the controversial monument to Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia.

With a significant time gap between the end of Reconstruction in 1877 and the dedication of these monuments, public commemoration sparked her interest. Little is studying how press coverage of the monuments contributed to the formation and perhaps distortion of collective memory of the nation across regional, political, and racial lines at flashpoints in the 1890s and 1920s. She is especially interested in the narrative and negotiation of how society chose to remember, or not to remember, the Civil War and how those memories shifted over time as evidenced in seven different newspapers.

Guiding her project is what Little believes is an all-star committee of faculty to help mold her as a scholar: Janice Hume, Carolina Acosta-Alzuru and Karen Russell.

“ I deeply respect Dr. Hume and Dr. Russell as media historians, and I really admire Dr. A’s  work in qualitative methodologies, breaking the mold of what some consider more ‘traditional’ communication research to pave the way for those of us who want to explore cultural and critical studies through various approaches,” Little said. “All three have significantly contributed to not only student education, but to our understandings of culture and communication, and I am lucky and grateful to have them.”

Little, who also serves as a graduate assistant for the Georgia Scholastic Press Association, chose UGA to pursue her master’s degree because of the stellar faculty at Grady College who specialize in collective memory, media history and qualitative research methods.

“I’m kind of a CV stalker,” Little continued, “I wanted to find faculty whose professional and research interests closely align with mine, and what my professors here study and what they have done professionally outside academia were of real interest.”

As she is pulling together the research, responsibilities both as a scholar and professional journalist weigh on her mind, including perspectives she decides to cite and who she decides to quote.

“These are important methods of practice because they will impact how future generations remember people and places and events,” Little concluded.

“It’s critical for both journalists and memory scholars alike to have a voice in current affairs, including the conversations, or lack thereof, surrounding Confederate monuments and symbolism. Many people fail to consider how various segments of the population view symbols like these monuments and how those views have been institutionalized over decades through cultural practice and media sites. I think it’s important for memory scholars to contribute to the conversation and, in turn, for media to consult those scholars to provide context. It’s not just a historical debate, it’s a cultural reckoning. And I hope close study will help to shed light on this moment.”