Talking Conference Experience with M.S. Student Brittany Bahl

M.S. Com student Brittany Bahl had the opportunity to attend and present at the Midwest Popular Culture Association 2021 Annual Conference. The conference took place in Minneapolis, MN, from October 8th-10th. We had a chance to catch up with Brittany regarding her first-time experience at the conference.

Brittany states, “it was a great experience, though a little different than it might have been normally because COVID was still a concern at that time and attendance was a lot lower than in previous years. Even so, I was still able to network with some people from other universities and got an opportunity to learn about what other kinds of research they were doing.”

Brittany presented a paper that has become the first chapter of her master’s thesis: “Prince Akeem’s Stolen Royal Oat: The Rhetoric and Legacy of Coming to America.” The paper she presented at the conference is a rhetorical analysis of the Coming to America film franchise, focusing on the rhetoric of toxic masculinity within the film, dealing with issues like representation, objectification, and consent. As a film analysis, it fits very well as a presentation piece for the MPCA. Bahl mentioned that “preparing for the presentation wasn’t too stressful, but I wasn’t sure what to expect (apart from a 15-minute time limit). The conference I attended was small, and most sessions had fewer than ten people in attendance. It was a lot less formal than I had anticipated, and it seemed everyone did what felt comfortable. Some presenters had detailed PowerPoint presentations, while others just stood up front and casually talked about their research for about 10-15 minutes.”

When discussing her interest in attending conferences such as MPCA/ACA, Brittany explained that submitting and presenting papers to conferences while in your master’s is “a good way to bulk up a C.V.” if a student is interested in pursuing a Ph.D. Since beginning the Program, Brittany has had the opportunity to present at two different conferences. She explained that “the process of submitting a paper wasn’t complicated once I found a conference with an open call for papers (CFP). The most difficult part is finding somewhere to send a paper.”

Some advice Brittany would give to other students looking to submit papers to conferences include,

  • Find professional organizations, small or large, and check when they have CFPs for conferences, or sign up for their newsletter and watch for announcements.
  • Ask a professor you know well if they would be willing to look over a paper you’re interested in submitting for a conference. I have had a professor who has assisted since beginning the process.

As for presenting at the conference,

  • Try to prepare something in advance if possible and then attend a few sessions prior to yours and get a feel for what others are doing.
  • Mainly, just try to get your work out there.
  • Make sure you give yourself enough time to edit your work.
  • And follow the organization’s guidelines for submissions. If your paper is selected to present, don’t stress. You’ll get to meet different people, maybe stay in a cool city, and get to share your work. 

Earlier this week, Brittany defended her thesis to the School of Communications M.S. Graduate Committee and was recently accepted to The University of Iowa to pursue her Ph.D. in Communication Studies.

Get to know your M.S. Com Students: Kevin Jurvis

One of the great things about Grand Valley’s Masters of Science in communication program is the wide variety of students it brings. Current M.S. student Kevin Jurvis is getting ready to finish his second semester in the program. Kevin double majored in Political Science and Communication Studies in his undergrad while also being very involved in Alpha Sigma Phi’s fraternity. He served as the Executive Vice President and President of the Fraternity his Sophomore and Junior years. Kevin has always been interested in Politics and has had multiple opportunities to work on various campaigns. He notes that he decided to pick up the second major (communication studies) after taking COM 101 as an elective in his undergrad, stating, “I really loved the material,” and further expressed the remarkable experiences with all Communications Faculty.

Kevin is currently weighing all of his options regarding his future career. For the last few years, he has been working as a transaction coordinator remotely for RE/Max Nexus in Birmingham, MI. And after working in a variety of communication-oriented positions and opening a dialogue with a few different companies, he is very interested in securing a role in the field of Public Relations. Kevin is originally from Huntington Woods, MI, and enjoys playing hockey, visiting his family’s cottage up north, and loves a good round of Euchre. However, in our interview, he mentioned that he is interested in exploring career options outside Michigan.

During his time in Grad School, Kevin has gathered some insight he’d like to share with others who are considering furthering their education.

  1. The program will be what you make of it. The effort you put in will directly correlate with your results. Therefore, it is essential to set goals for yourself, remain on task, and find a balance between school and other extracurriculars.
  2. It is important to understand that the professors are there to help you some days, it may feel otherwise, but the level of material is also meant to challenge you. You are choosing to get this level of education, and therefore it is your responsibility to hold yourself accountable for the level of work you are given.

So far, Kevin says he’s had a great experience in the M.S. program and is happy with his choice to pursue an advanced degree. He closed his interview by saying he would recommend this program to anyone interested in expanding their knowledge in the realm of communications.

“The X” Marks the Spot. New Student AM Radio Station.

The School of Communications has a new AM Radio Station! WLSX or “The X” is a student-run educational radio station that will allow students to get comfortable behind the mic and learn the mechanics that go into running a station. Students have had access to the student-run radio station – WCKS – The Whale and will now use WLSX as their “lab,” where they will work on their radio personalities and gain on-air confidence in the radio course.

We got a chance to sit down with Dr. Len O’Kelly, Associate Director in the School of Communications and faculty advisor for both student radio stations to find out more information about the new station and get some tips on the broadcasting field.

A quote in the Lanthorn article mentioned that students would have “material to go work in broadcasting” after having experience working in a lab setting such as the WLSX station. Can you give us examples of what this end material would include?
The final project in the class has students apply to me for a job. Their “package” includes a cover letter, resume, and a demo reel. The reel is an edited sample of the work that they did throughout the semester. This package is identical to what an air personality seeking work would submit to an employer. Over the years, we have had students complete the class and send the contents of their final package out to employers – and find work. I’m quite proud of that.

What are some of the things learned in the classroom that students will now have a chance to get hands-on practice with because of WLSX?
I like to tell the students that it’s not enough to simply know how a radio station works – you have to do the work for it to really click. I see the on-air component as a supplement to the classroom work. Likewise, while I can teach the skills needed to operate the station, I can’t teach personality and confidence. That only comes through time over the course of a semester and beyond.

What classes within the program do you begin working in the Radio Station?
Students in CMJ 265 Introduction to Radio do their “lab work” on the station. Students are expected to work on the air for two hours a week outside of class time as an ongoing regular class assignment.

What advice would you give to students interested in broadcasting but are uncertain if it’s the major for them?
I’d say to give it a try. When I started in college I was convinced I would remain my first choice – a pre-medical major. I took the radio course as an undergrad because it was something that I was always curious about/fascinated with. Something clicked immediately for me. I discovered my voice, and I felt comfortable as a communicator. Had I not tried it, I may have never discovered a talent that took me around the world – literally – in a 25-year career.

When will the radio station be available online?
Hopefully very soon! We are working with GVSU IT to make the necessary connections to get the audio signal onto an easy to access stream. I am hopeful that we will see this done within the next couple of weeks. Until then, it’s analog listening on 900 AM on campus. Subscribe now to ensure your the first to hear the station once its available online!

The opening of WLSX has garnered a lot of attention on and off GVSU’s campus. WLNS News, WOOD TV, The Lanthorn, The Holland Sentential, and GVNext have all covered the opening of the Radio Station, and are ready to tune in!

Follow WLSX – “The X” on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates!

Confessions of an M.S. Com. Student: Elizabeth Ketcham Kheder’s Top Five Takeaways

Hey, I’m Liz! I received my B.A. in Strategic Communication from Cornerstone University in 2018 and I will be graduating with my M.S. in Communication from GVSU this semester. I am currently the Graduate Assistant to the School of Communications and I am also the VP of Communication for the Graduate Communication Association. Upon graduating I will start a B.A. in Arabic Language and Linguistics at the International Open University. I also plan to pursue a Ph.D. in the future related to international communication. My current academic interests and research focus on women’s studies, Middle Eastern studies, Muslim studies, and media studies. Essentially, I care a lot about the way Middle Eastern and Muslim women are portrayed in various media today. But let’s talk about the M.S. Com. program that so many of us have benefitted from and love. Here are my five takeaways from my years in the program…

  1. Know why. Although graduate school is a lot of exploration and research, it is important to know why you’re in the program in the first place. Find what interests you. This is the best way to take advantage of all your classes. In almost every class that I took, even the elective, I always related the material back to my core interests and it made all the difference. It helped me think about my interests in new and innovative ways, it helped me settle on project topics, and it also made choosing my final research topic so much more simple.
  2. Make a friend. It’s important to have a key person or two in the program with whom you can journey through classes together. It makes those long nights of research and paper-writing so much easier when you can rant to someone who understands!
  3. Participate. First, go to class. I know it’s not always easy. We have lives. Sometimes we’re just burned out. But going to class not only means you are learning more but it also means you’re less anxious about what you’re missing. Second, speak up! Graduate classes are almost always formatted seminar-style. Don’t be the kid who never says anything…build rapport with your professors and peers by participating.
  4. Find your flow. Finding a process that works for you in research and writing is something that grad school forces you to do. My writing process has become very specific. I research and type up quotes as I go – I make sure I am citing as I go too because this saves time – and then once I have finished this process, I open a separate document and begin writing the body of my paper. Having my pre-prepared document of quotes/citations makes all the difference for me.
  5. Thank Alex. Alex is the king of the M.S. Com. program. A benevolent and sarcastic king. With his prompt email replies, quick solutions, and invaluable feedback, he really makes the program what it is. If you haven’t met Alex at Starbucks or encountered his yellow legal pad, I highly doubt that you are or ever were in the program.

Confessions of an M.S. Com. Student: Sam Elliott-Mosley’s Top Five Takeaways

Hi, I’m Sam! I received my Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from GVSU in 2017, and after taking a year off to focus on my career and plan some future goals, I will be graduating again this spring from the Master of Science in Communication program. I am the current president of the Graduate Communication Association and work at Spectrum Health as a project specialist. I have plans to continue to pursue higher education in the future through a doctoral program focused on Communication. Here are five takeaways from my years in the program:

  1. Find what you like. I know this is easier said than done, but take every new thing you learn into consideration for your path. Notice the materials you make connections with and seek out more. I took an interpersonal communication class from community college on a whim, when I was young and still undecided with what I wanted to do with my life. Curiosity can open you up to the life you’re meant to have. 
  2. Do the work. Read as much as you can, even if you don’t want to. Talk about what you read with someone (in class or otherwise). The more you read, study, and explore, the more you’ll be able to understand what you like – and what you don’t. Also, I’m not just talking about reading for your classes, reading for pleasure is part of what keeps me sane during the bustle of the semester.
    Currently reading: “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”
  3. Get cozy & appreciate yourself. I find coziness and comfort VITAL for success. Over time, I have tried to set up my ideal study space and make studying part of my self-care practice. It becomes so much easier to incorporate study into your life when it comes with soft pillows, multi-colored pens, and nice candles. Putting in the effort is hard enough, so you don’t need to be hard on yourself. Seek out and revel in delights, both large and small. Finally, pet all the dogs you have a chance to. 
  4. Ask questions. It’s okay to not know things, that’s why you’re here. Ask your professors, your classmates, your co-workers, anyone. Listen, discuss, ask more, repeat. 
  5. Do it for yourself. Although some people may face external pressures around attending college, I think I started to be most successful when I realized I wanted to do it for me. Education is expensive, so treat it like an all-you-can-eat-buffet.