Four Communication Studies Students Earn First Place Honors at Graduate Research Symposium

Four School of Communication Studies (COMM) graduate students were named first place award winners at Kent State University’s 32nd Graduate Research Symposium April 21, 2017.

Master’s students Daniel Socha, Kelsey Husnick and Kelsey Phillips and doctoral student William Kelvin shared their research in an oral presentation or as a poster. Each of the students plan to present or publish their research outside of Kent State in the future.

“We put a lot of time and energy into this research,” Husnick said. “It's not something that we have to do as graduate students, but rather a bit of a passion project that we wanted to take on. It's nice to be recognized for all of the hard work we put in outside of the classroom.”

Husnick and Socha partnered on a project that explored social stigma towards queerness in Ghana. They collected their data as part of a two-week International Storytelling study abroad experience over spring break. They only had three weeks to prepare their preliminary findings in a poster, entitled “A qualitative investigation of queerness in Ghana.”

“I am grateful for the support and recognition from the Graduate Student Senate and the School of Communication Studies,” Socha said. “It is an honor to receive recognition for our work. I am especially grateful for my research partner, Kelsey. Collaborating and negotiating ideas with another graduate student is an invaluable part of my education as a researcher.”

The pair also credits Graduate Student Senate (GSS) and the College of Communication and Information for providing monetary support and their advisor, COMM Assistant Professor Suzy D’Enbeau, Ph.D., for providing academic support.

Kelvin also received monetary support from GSS for his collaborative research with cultural foundations major Tianhong Zhang. Kelvin and Zhang gave an oral presentation entitled “What you see is not what you get: Advertising culture and performing propaganda.”

“It is exciting that the university is encouraging interdisciplinary research, which is so important,” Kelvin said. “This study examined how one nonprofit uses theater to advance its political agenda while also raising impressive amounts of funds. […] It feels great [to win first place], especially because the other competitors in my round were so strong. I was shocked to win around such great scholars.”

This is Kelvin’s third time earning first place recognition at the Graduate Research Symposium. He plans to share this research at an International Communication Association conference in May.

Phillips’ presentation was a research proposal she created for a teaching assistant course; she had not yet collected the data for the project. With support from her instructor, Jennifer McCullough, Ph.D., Phillips presented “The Anxious Teacher: Communication apprehension and motivation in the classroom.”

“I am very grateful for the opportunity to share my research and be recognized, especially because this study is still in the theoretical stage,” Phillips said. “I am glad the judges saw potential, even without having collected data. I am looking into the potential for this research after receiving many positive comments from colleagues to collect data.”

For more information about the Graduate Research Symposium, visit

POSTED: Tuesday, May 2, 2017 - 3:51pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, February 14, 2018 - 12:26pm
Meghan Caprez