From the moment I arrived at Syracuse, I have been deeply involved in many aspects beyond research and teaching, in industry, at Newhouse, at Syracuse, and with outside communities. In all of these roles, I continue my mission to encourage critical thinking regarding media and empower students to become agents of change. I believe that my service to Newhouse, Syracuse University, and the media industry are closely tied to my teaching expectations and the way in which I encourage my students to think differently about the world they inhabit and affect through their media consumption and production. Independent of committee work, my service activities are directly related to helping people (students and industry leaders alike) make connections between psychology, identity, media, and society.
I have served on the Development and Leaves Committee, the Curriculum Committee, the Graduate Program Committee, and the Awards Committee at Newhouse. In addition to this traditional service, I have also been a resource for students throughout the school. I collaborated with Emilie Davis on a survey for National News Engagement Day in 2014 to collect information about students’ news habits as a teaching tool for this day of outreach. In October 2014, I conducted a two-part workshop for graduating PhDs interested in the academic market; we discussed important things to remember and consider, and I helped them organize and build a professional website. The feedback was very positive according to Dennis Kinsey, who shared some student quotes with me:
“She went above and beyond in sharing her personal materials for us to reference as ways of organizing your process, branding yourself and writing to your strengths.”
In 2017, I also independently spearheaded and produced a project for the third annual Media Literacy Week hosted by the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE). Given the value of media literacy to a Newhouse education, I did not want to let this week go by unaddressed. I reached out to faculty members across different departments to assess their definition of media literacy and how they deployed it in the classroom and created 17 images featuring relevant and valuable quotes (See Figures 12-17). The resulting project was featured on the NAMLE website and garnered hundreds of likes and shares across Newhouse’s various social media platforms (wp.me/p2Yvpt-Yp).
In the Service of Diversity at Newhouse
As someone who is well versed in issues of diversity and media, and one of the few Black faculty at Newhouse, my calls to service have been wide-ranging. I am present, visible, and willing to talk about difficult subjects, which often makes me a unique and desirable person to fill out panels, moderate conversations especially given the school’s active efforts around diversity awareness for our students, faculty, staff, and industry at large. I have served as faculty advisor to the Syracuse University Student Chapter of National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ-SU) from 2014-2016, as a speaker for Newhouse’s program with the Bergen County Register in 2015, and a panel moderator for The South Africa to Syracuse event hosted by Ken Harper in Spring 2018, as well as other diversity efforts including MultiDay and faculty staff inclusion training. Again, much like teaching, this service allows me to be present for Newhouse students, even those who were not enrolled in my classes.
I served as the moderator for the student diversity panel at Newhouse’s Second Annual Multiday in 2014; in this role, I focused on imparting the importance of diversity in media to incoming freshman and provided context for the unique experiences of upper classmen. Shortly after I agreed to moderate the MultiDay panel, a video featuring a Syracuse senior shouting racist and homophobic epithets at another student was posted online. The video touched off a conversation about microaggressions on campus using the hashtag, #ITooAmSU. This was another opportunity to teach outside of the classroom. I focused definitions of important key terms like, “categories of difference,” “culture of inclusion,” and “marginalized,” and provided context for relevant examples from the student panelists about their experiences at Syracuse. Many in our community congratulated my ability to contextualize complex issues with theory, and make the panel a conversation with important takeaways and a concrete call to action.
Two years later, I was invited by the Diversity Committee to interview Joan Bryant, Ph.D., Associate Professor of African American Studies at Syracuse University. We discussed her exhibit, “Black Utopias” available at the Special Collections Gallery at Bird Library. However, this event was much more than a conversation; I also developed a scavenger hunt to encourage students to engage with the exhibit to discover for themselves, what is a Black Utopia and how does the historical vision of a Black Utopia continue to resonate today?
In the wake of the Theta Tau videos in spring 2018, I again found my skills in demand as the campus was rocked by the same difficult discussions that I have in my classroom every day. I served on the Newhouse Listening Forum, the only junior faculty on the dais, describing issues on campus and what I had learned from teaching the 5-week course on struggle with satire. I shared my experiences as a young woman of color at a prestigious school as my classmates told me that I didn’t belong, and most importantly, I listened to students and took note of what they need, want, and will benefit from in the classroom and in other conversations.
Later that year, in August before classes started, Newhouse also hosted a faculty/staff retreat to discuss issues related to diversity and inclusion. The first half of the day was a scheduled program coordinated and led by representatives of Syracuse University. The afternoon was coordinated by Newhouse faculty and began with an anonymous question and answer period where faculty who teach diversity-related classes at Newhouse addressed some of pending concerns of other Newhouse faculty. I had the honor of moderating this panel, sifting through dozens of questions so as to hone the topics and direct the most effective conversation given a brief amount of time. Again, I was the only junior faculty to participate on this panel. Although some have warned against being this present as junior faculty, this opportunity to serve is also an opportunity to teach.
I have collaborated with faculty across the university, and I hold faculty affiliations with the Psychology and the Communication and Rhetorical Studies (CRS) departments. I have spoken several times at panels and workshops on applying to graduate school for the McNair Scholars Program and was the featured speaker at the Recognition and Induction Banquet at the end of the school year. I have also been invited to deliver talks, host speakers, and moderate panels around the university.
In March 2014, I moderated a panel entitled, “Political, Artistic and Journalistic Representations of the Civil Rights Movement and Era,” at an event hosted by the Cold Case Justice Initiative at the SU College of Law celebrating 50 Years of the Civil Rights Movement. I was invited to moderate an intimate (25 student) Q&A session with New York Times columnist Charles Blow in October 2015, sit down with MSNBC host Joy Reid in my COM346 class in April 2018, and interview New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd for the University Lecture Series in Hendricks Chapel also in May 2018. Dowd was so impressed with my interview, she incorporated one of my questions into an interview she conducted with David Duchovny a few weeks later (Dowd, 2018; instagram.com/p/BiSOhVtAl6d).
Students also regularly ask me to participate in student organized events, and I almost always say yes. I shared my own failures at Mental Health Awareness Week as part of a series entitled Syracuse Setbacks in 2016; I was also invited multiple times to serve as guest speaker for the McNair Scholars Program, the Fulbright Scholars Program, and the Remembrance Scholars. In doing so, I hope to share the preeminence of Newhouse with the rest of the Syracuse University community.
I also continue these efforts off campus to ensure that these conversations are not limited to college students. I have served as an expert on several programs including podcasts on WAER and Chipperish Media, as well as on BET’s Inside the Hustle: Grand Hustle (2016). I have been invited to speak to lawyers, psychologists, and politicians; these events included Renaissance Weekend, an American retreat for leaders in business and finance, government, the media, religion, medicine, science, technology and the arts, the Chautauqua Institute, a non-profit education center for adults and youth in upstate New York, the Defense Research Institute, the leading national organization of defense attorneys, the Congressional Black Caucus’ Annual Leadership Conference in Washington, DC, Social Media Week in Chicago and Advertising Week in New York City, and at the BRIC Cultural Center in Brooklyn. At each of these events, my goals remain the same as in the classroom: imploring people to think about the psychological and mediated connections between the past, present, and future and consider how each of us can disrupt this cycle. I do this not because it counts as service, but because I feel that everyone can benefit from dynamic and sustainable tools that help them engage critically with a world that is perpetually in flux.
My time at Newhouse has been an amazing opportunity to integrate my passions and research, teaching, and service, and know that my colleagues value this intersectional work. I have served as a reviewer for Communication Research, Communication Review, Media Psychology, and Journal of Simulation, and published a review of Media in Society (Campbell, et al, 2014) at Electronic News, a publication of AEJMC. At ICA and NCA, I regularly volunteer to chair panels and serve as a discussant, which gives me the opportunity to engage with scholars around their work and further disrupt the rhetorical assumptions deployed in academia. At the most recent ICA in Washington, D.C. I was honored to serve as chair of a panel on content analysis; although the methodology was consistent, the topics varied from representation of autism in entertainment media and news coverage of South America to gender representation in pornography and cybercrime. It was a delight to develop lines through these seeming disparate research projects on the fly, ensuring a more vibrant discussion where everyone could be involved.
As described earlier, my service closely overlaps with my teaching and research; I have delineated these categories according to audience and initial intention; whereas events categorized as teaching are directed toward our students and designed to systematically disrupt discourse regarding media and diversity, events categorized as service are directed toward larger communities
My third-year review recommended to prioritize my activities to “advance a clear academic agenda.” All of my activities to date have worked toward improving conversations about diversity and inclusion at Newhouse, at Syracuse University, in the media profession, and in the public sphere. Although the committee stated that some activities may demonstrate my passion but not advance a clear academic agenda, my academic agenda has been to disrupt discourse at every level of communication, and all of my service activities have served this larger goal.