Faculty Spotlight | School of Communication Studies | Kent State University

Faculty Spotlight

Name: Aaron Bacue

 

Degrees: Bachelor of Arts- Communication (Advertising); Master of Arts- Interpersonal Communication; Doctoral Work- Interpersonal Communication

 

Schools Attended: Xavier University; University of Delaware; University of Arizona

 

What is your current job title at Kent State University?

I am an assistant professor in the School of Communication Studies. I am also the interim basic course director and this semester I am serving as undergraduate coordinator for the School.

 

What does a typical day look like for you?

Currently I teach two classes, and this semester I am mentoring our new graduate assistants in their teaching apprenticeship. We are team-teaching two sections of COMM 15000 so they are able to get supervised teaching experience teaching here in the School of Communication Studies as they prepare for their future academic careers. A lot of my day gets filled up with meetings and responding to emails, and I spend a lot of time doing assessment projects and looking at data regarding enrollment trends, grade distributions, etc. I also have tasks involving scheduling of courses and who teaches them.

 

Tell me about your college experience and how you found that you wanted to work within the field of communication.

Well it’s funny because I started at Miami University and I started in communication and advertising and I changed my major six different times. I then transferred to Xavier University and graduated with the same major I started with. After I graduated, I worked in media buying and I didn’t really like it. I also felt that if was making advertisements, I wanted to know what the impact was. I went on to graduate school to study that, and while I was there, I took an interpersonal communication class. I really fell in love with it and switched my studies. I then immediately went on to my Ph.D. After graduate school, I worked in market research, which was very lucrative. However, I didn’t enjoy it. So I decided to teach and now here I am, many moons later. I love teaching college students and serving in administration that is tied to student learning outcomes and success.

 

What advice would you give to incoming communication studies freshmen in order for them to succeed?

What you need to do is work little by little. It takes the average person of hearing something six times before it’s committed to memory. Within 24 hours of leaving the classroom, you remember less than half of what you heard and learned in your class. If you have a class and then wait until the exam to study, you basically have to relearn the material. But if you periodically look over your notes once a day, then you will never need to study for the exam. I’d also tell them to start networking from day one at Kent. Most students wait until they are seniors to start networking with people, but we live in a world in which landing a career position immediately upon graduation often depends on who knows who. You need to start freshmen year; go to the career fairs and just talk to people. Ask to shadow people and see what they do. Start building that network immediately for maximum effect.

 

What advice would you give to a graduating as they begin to enter the workforce with a communication degree?

You need to make sure you can use the skills and applications you learned the past four years to succeed at your job. When you’re new to a job, you should be the first one in and the last one out. You should go to every single event that your work hosts and get to know your coworkers. You really should go above and beyond, you can’t just meet expectations.

 

How does that differ from advice you’d give to a graduating masters/Ph.D. student ready to graduate?

You have to have balance. You have your research, teaching, administration and home life. Those areas all have to be balanced to be successful. Strive to be connected to your university and people outside your school and department. We tend to get isolated in our departments, especially when we’re new because we have so much to do. Get to know people outside of your school and college. You’ll never know the connections that you make that can help your research and teaching.

 

What is your favorite aspect of working at Kent State University?

I find everyone at Kent very nice and helpful. Even if I randomly ask someone where something is, they won’t just tell me but they’ll show me. I also appreciate that Kent has a liberal atmosphere, it’s the most liberal school that I’ve taught at. Everyone is able to fully be themselves here and feel comfortable, which is awesome.

 

What do you like most about working in the communication department?

I have really great colleagues that I know I can count on for advice or help, and vice versa. We have a good team of people that work well together no matter the circumstances. And we are friendly, socially connected and not competitive with each other.

 

 

Name: Michael Beam

 

Degrees: Bachelor of Science- Communication; Master of Science- Communication; Ph.D.- Communication

 

Schools Attended: Ohio University; The Ohio State University

 

What is your current job title at Kent State University?

I am an assistant professor in the School of Communication Studies. I teach several classes, “Media Use and Effects,” “Communication Technology and Human Interaction,” “My Story on the Web,” as well as graduate courses related to Media, Technology and Society.

 

What does a typical day look like for you?

One thing about being a professor, there isn’t just a typical day. There are several different jobs that being a professor entails, such as being a researcher and an instructor. There are also a number of service duties to the School, College, University and the discipline. On my teaching days, I have office hours and work on course preparation, building slides and managing Blackboard and grading assignments. Other days I’ll focus on my research and meet with others on ongoing projects, writing papers, reviewing other people’s papers and data analysis. My research is largely centered on the internet and politics. I spend a lot of time studying how the internet influences people’s political attitudes. My research has looked into political polarization and how we have this growing divide between liberals and conservations. Much of my research has found that many internet technologies, such as social media and algorithmic news recommendations, are actually helping us depolarize exposure us to multiple perspectives and ideas.

 

Tell me a little about your college experience and how you found that you wanted to work within the field of communication.

My background is actually in the IT industry, which I worked in for about a decade before I went to graduate school. When I was an undergrad, I was very interested in media technology, and I specifically majored in audio technology with a minor in physics. My professional life was centered on managing technologies that supported online communication. Back then, the internet wasn’t as frequently used as it is today and there was no social media. I found myself building sites that would bring communities together. For example, I was working with a lot of musicians to connect them with their fan community. There were no rules on how to communicate with your fans over the internet except through using your music label’s sparse expertise. I ended up managing servers for a number of online email mailing lists for bands such as Radiohead, Underworld and DJ Shadow. Each of these artists did a good job bypassing the traditional structures of the music industry to connect with fans in an authentic way. It was really eye-opening to me to see how the internet was changing the flow of information. I’ve also been very involved with community media over the years, working at community radio stations and community media centers. I’ve produced a radio show, “The Beat Oracle,” for the past 18 years. In 2004, I had a website for my radio show that was airing in California at the time, and I set up a podcast for the show. This was before podcasting was easy to use: it was still very technical and the software to download shows was not particularly user friendly. When Apple released podcast support in their iTunes software program in 2005, they launched their podcast directory, which now has millions of podcasts and listeners. When they did that, "The Beat Oracle" was one of the only podcasts in their music podcast directory. Apple had not alerted us that we would be one of the first and only podcasts in their directory, and all of a sudden, our radio show went from reaching an audience in southern California to reaching tens of thousands of listeners across the world. I saw again how technology was disrupting the media flow of the radio industry. I wanted to move beyond just experiencing these changes as a technologist and producer, so I decided to go back to graduate school to study the role of evolving technology in our lives. During my time as a technologist, I really enjoyed working with my clients to help communication technology work for their lives. I wanted to scale that up and also experience teaching, so being in academia is a place where I can do both research and teaching about information technology.

 

What advice would you give to incoming communication studies freshmen in order for them to succeed?

Get involved with activities that you could see yourself being passionate about. When you’re involved with student activities and working with local businesses, it gives you a chance to see and apply the coursework you’re learning. If you’re not getting involved in ways that you can apply what you’re learning, then it’ll be harder to see those applications. Take diverse courses to push yourself out of your comfort zone to be more well-rounded and understand different ways of thinking. As soon as possible, think about and work with student advising staff to develop a plan that you think is workable to get through college in your particular track in 4 years. Work on mindfulness and try to be present, especially in the classroom. There are a lot of distractions when going through college, but if you really focus on what information and material is covered in the classroom, it will be much more helpful. Of course this doesn’t just apply to coursework; try to be mindful and present in any particular thing that you’re doing, be present in that thing.

 

What advice would you give to a graduating senior as they begin to enter the workforce with a communication degree?

The tools you have learned are very portable. You can use your communication studies degree across so many industries. Students often think about their career opportunities in a more narrow way than what they are. Really try to stretch the ways that this discipline can be applied in different areas, because there are a lot of unique jobs and careers available to you.

 

How does that differ from advice you’d give to a masters/Ph.D. student ready to graduate?

It’s important to think carefully about what type of job you want in the academy. There is a fair amount of difference between types of institutions in terms of teaching or research balance. Think about how you can convey your graduate education as being appropriate for each of those types of jobs and what kind of balance you want. Also, there are rich job opportunities outside the academy in the professional world. For example in the tech industry, companies like Google and Microsoft are hiring communication and information Ph.D. graduates at a high rate. There are many opportunities to conduct applied research if that suits you. It’s a flexible degree that allows you to execute research and/or teaching in different institutions.

 

What is your favorite aspect of working at Kent State University?

The people, both my colleagues and students. My work as a researcher and as an instructor are better thanks to my colleagues because of the culture of collaboration and discussion we have in the School of Communication Studies and CCI. I love working with the students here as well. I’ve worked at several different institutions and I find that many of the students at Kent State work harder than I’ve experienced in the past. The classroom is very invigorating for discussions and learning.

 

What do you like most about working in the communication department?

Kent State’s School of Communication Studies puts a good emphasis on critical thinking and flexible theory-based tools for students to meet their professional goals.

 

 

Name: Yesim Kaptan

 

Degrees: Bachelor of Arts- Political Science; Master of Arts- Political Science; Master of Arts- Folklore Anthropology; Ph.D.- Culture and Communication; Ph.D.- Folklore

 

Schools attended: Middle East Technical University (Ankara, Turkey); Indiana University

 

What is your current job title at Kent State University?

I am an assistant professor in the School of Communication Studies. I’ve been at Kent for a year a half now and my specialty is in global communication.

 

What does a typical day look like for you?

Usually I’ll come into my office in the morning, depending on if I’m teaching that day or not. I’ll do teaching preparation and I have office hours after my classes. On the days I’m not teaching, I’ll come and do research, such as write and revise papers. I have weekly meetings with students and colleagues, and answer emails every day. Right now my research is working with colleagues from Denmark University and we’re looking into why people in the United States, Japan and especially Europe are watching Danish dramas, such as The Killing. It’s become very popular around the world and we are researching why people have become so engaged with these dramas.

 

Tell me a little about your college experience and how you found that you wanted to work within the field of communication.

When I was doing my masters in Turkey, one of my professors introduced me to cultural studies and I became very fascinated by the field and subject. That helped me decide to pursue a degree in communication and media. I was also a member of Folklore Anthropology Club, and I was already conducting fieldwork in villages in Turkey. I wanted to combine the two areas, which is why I applied for Indiana University’s folklore program and got a fellowship and scholarship for the program. While studying in the folklore program, I realized that I wanted more of media studies while also still looking into cultural studies. I started my second Ph.D. in communication and culture, and wrote my dissertation on advertising in Turkey pertaining to nationalism and globalization. I always knew I wanted to teach and be a professor once starting my bachelors, which is rare. That is why I originally studied Political Science, because I thought I wanted to teach that. But as I was going through my masters, I realized that media, culture and fieldwork was more for me.

 

What advice would you give to incoming communication studies freshmen in order for them to succeed?

Students have to find what they love and insist on wanting to do that for their career. Our students at Kent State are very lucky because the professors are very caring towards their well-being and want what is best for them. Have open communication with your professors and tell them what you want to do and then take their advice. I really believe that all of us professors are here to help students and to help them grow to their full potential.

 

What advice would you give to a graduating senior as they begin to enter the workforce with a communication degree?

Having uncertainties and anxieties are normal but find ways to take a breath and know that everything will work out. Throughout your years of obtaining your degree, take advantage of all the resources available to you. Try to study abroad sometime during your years here to help better prepare yourself after graduation to find a better position. Fellowships, scholarships and diversity programs are all available to you to boost up your experiences that will help you after you graduate.

 

How does that differ from advice you’d give to a masters/Ph.D. student ready to graduate?

There may be a level of uncertainty and anxiety as to what is going to happen once you graduate. Your anxiety will not allow you to foresee your future and what is coming ahead for you. Some students are lucky and know that they have a job lined up once they graduate, but not all are that lucky. Be mindful and aware of your anxieties, which are completely normal. If you are mindful, take into consideration your fears and you can deal with them in a better way.

 

What is your favorite aspect of working at Kent State University?

It’s really the people here at Kent that make it wonderful. The students and staff are amazing, my colleagues are really helpful and we all have open communication. Everyone is looking out for one another. Kent State has a good strength in research which is beneficial to all students and staff.

 

What do you like most working in the communication department?

The collegiality among faculty is really a strong point here. Everyone is looking out for each other’s best interest and helps out along the way.

 

You were recently selected as the World Class Kent State CCI Global Podcast speaker, what did that highlight and what are some main takeaways you hope the listeners will remember?

The podcast highlighted the rise of nationalism and globalization, particularly in the United States and Europe. There are different forms of nationalism, how it’s been evolving and that there are multiple areas of nationalism. We specifically discussed consumer nationalism, which is a form that a lot of people are not familiar with because it’s still new. We can see it more in the United States but it’s seen all over the world. For example, I brought in a consumer product to one of my classes, and it triggers nationalism because of its packaging. The label is an American Flag, and states, “For Liberty and Justice, For All.” The product's company isn’t just an American company, it’s a transnational company. Yet all these transnational companies are selling consumers nationalism in each given country, to the country’s citizens. We can find the same approach of advertising and packaging of the consumer product in Belgium but targeting their national identity.  It’s an important topic to understand in the society that we live in today.

 

Name: Erin Hollenbaugh

Degrees: Bachelor of Arts- Communication Arts; Master of Arts- Communication Studies; Ph.D.- Communication Studies

Schools attended: Malone College; Kent State University

What is your current job title at Kent State University?

I am an associate professor for the School of Communication Studies at Kent State Stark. I am also the program coordinator for the School at Kent State Stark.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Well I teach four classes so my days are often wrapped around students on Monday and Wednesdays when I teach. I facilitate my research on Tuesday, Thursday and Fridays, which is centered around social media, specifically in the second digital generation of those born in the 1990s up to today. My research looks into social media dependency among young people, including predictors of that dependency and effects like addiction. A big chunk of my day consists of answering emails and writing. For a professor, I spend a surprisingly good amount of time alone.

Tell me a little about your college experience and how you found that you wanted to work within the field of communication.

When I was a college freshman, I didn’t have much direction as to what I wanted to do. Like a lot of students, I wasn’t sure how to fit a major that could correlate with connecting it to my career. Coming from a small town, I didn’t even know communication was a possible major, but while taking basic communication courses during my freshman year, I found myself inspired by my classmates and professors. Everything I was learning in my communication courses were very relevant to my life right then…I didn’t have to wait until I launched into some future career to apply the lessons I was learning in my classes. So that was it. I was hooked on communication! To figure out a career path, I had internships working for newspapers and hospitals but I didn’t find any of those things exciting and they weren’t continuing my learning. I have a natural curiosity, and the more I learned as an undergrad, the more I knew I didn’t know, and I thirsted for more. So I went to grad school, where I was a teaching assistant (TA), allowing me to gain teaching experience while obtaining my degrees. I love teaching because I continue to be basically a perpetual college student, immersed in the atmosphere, constantly learning and of course, taking any opportunity to get free food. Ha!

What advice would you give incoming communication studies freshmen in order for them to succeed?

It’s very important to study what you love. You’re going to want to enjoy your career so make it something you are passionate about! Foundations of Communication allows students to build upon an interest or passion they have and then plan to continue studying that throughout their college career. Several years ago, I had a Foundations student who knew she wanted to use her communication skills to fight the opioid crisis. In the years that followed, she was able to learn more and better prepare herself for that eventual career by establishing her expertise in her Senior Seminar portfolio. That has set her up for limitless successes. Also, the Stark campus is nonresidential, so students should make a conscious effort to plug-in and meet their classmates and professors. There is often a feeling of disconnect among students who just go to class and commute back to home, so getting engaged with the Stark community will help you! And lastly, be willing to say “yes.” A lot of students have busy lives and work jobs as well as attend full-time classes. There is a sea of opportunities awaiting you and I find that the most successful students are those who are eager to try new experiences and opportunities.

What advice would you give to a graduating senior as they begin to enter the workforce with a communication degree?

The authentic networking you are engaging in throughout your college career is what will help you land a job when you graduate. Capitalize on those connections on and off campus to start your professional career. Getting involved with young professional organizations and attending community events throughout college will help you meet connections that will be so valuable to you once you graduate. It’s a small world, and your fellow classmates and professors are resources you can use to your advantage! Professors know companies who are hiring so they are a very useful tool.

What is your favorite aspect of working at Kent State University Stark?

Well Kent State Stark is the only four-year public university in Stark County so we stand a part from the multiple private colleges and universities who are our neighbors, as well as the community college and for-profit institutions in our community. At Kent State Stark, we really have a true mission to give everyone equal education access no matter their financial situation. Faculty are engaged in active research programs while still putting top priority on undergraduate teaching. We really get the best of both worlds here. Kent State Stark has just over 5,000 students, so we get the feel of a small college while also being a part of the Kent State community which exceeds dozens of thousands. The students are wonderful, and my reason for being at the campus every day. It’s really cool to think I have played even a small part in their successes, and since many stay in Stark County, I have been able to maintain close connections with our alumni.

What do you like most working in the communication department?

My colleagues, staff and administration are such a talented and close-knit group, which makes working for the School that much more rewarding. We have 5 full-time faculty so we’re a smaller program, but the Dean rated us as a one of the Top 5 majors on campus. It’s great to have diverse and varied teaching perspectives throughout the program. The COMM@Stark program is in a sweet spot that I’m thriving in right now.

 

Name: Cristin Compton

Degrees: Bachelor of Arts- Speech Communication, Music (percussion); Master of Arts- Communication Studies; Ph.D.- Communication

Schools attended: Drury University; Missouri State University; University of Missouri

What is your current job title at Kent State University?

I am an assistant professor for the School of Communication Studies. This is my first semester at Kent State and I teach two courses each semester: Organizational Communication and Gender and Communication.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I’m usually in the office by 8:30, and this semester my schedule has me teaching every day. I’ll review some lecture notes and some student reflections, while also answering tons of emails a day haha. I’ve been working on about five research projects right now so these days I’ll usually have an interview or two via skype, phone or in-person. I spend a lot of time coding, reading and writing. Sometimes I’ll get asked to do reviews for other journals and give some feedback.

Tell me a little about your college experience and how you found that you wanted to work within the field of communication.

I had the good fortune to go three different types of schools, and I hadn’t really taught throughout my bachelor’s and master’s programs because I worked full-time. I was starting to see things I was learning about in my communication classes come to life in a really obvious, applied way. I became really fascinated in what I was learning and I wanted a way where I could talk about what I was learning, so I enrolled in the doctorate program where I got the opportunity to teach, and I realized that I really loved it. It’s hard, it doesn’t come naturally to everybody. But when I find topics that I’m passionate about and have students who are thirsty for this knowledge, nothing is more exciting or fulfilling. There is an overlap with my other passion of research. I focus a lot on qualitative research of using interviews and focus groups, so my teaching philosophy is very closely related to my research philosophy, which is conversation emerging from other people and their experiences.

What advice would you give to incoming communication studies freshmen in order for them to succeed?

Firstly, when you think of communication, it’s not one of those things where you can snap your fingers and go get a job in ‘applied communication.’ But it’s actually really cool because the skills that you learn will take you farther than any job title. You can literally do anything you want. You learn critical thinking skills, application and relational skills and communication processes that will be able to set you apart. The School of Communication Studies gives you a tool box that allows you to make your own adventure. You’re going to be able to tailor-make your own future, so be ready for it! It’s not a program that limits you in any way, it really exposes you to a lot of different ideas and perspectives of seeing the world. To my current students, I’m around a lot during the day so I invite folks to stop in my office or set up a meeting with me!

What advice would you give to a graduating senior as they begin to enter the workforce with a communication degree?

Look back across the courses that you took and point out what courses really struck a chord with you. Think about the skills that you learned in that course and what kind of topics really made your imagination run wild. Transfer those skills into job searches. I guarantee you will find a lot of obvious overlap. Additionally, if you’re considering going into a master’s program, it is well worth your time to talk to your advisor about the best route for you. Find a faculty member in the school and they will point you to programs based on your interests to continue your growth of knowledge in an academic setting.

How does that differ from advice you’d give to a masters/Ph.D. student ready to graduate?

Well chances are you are going to be looking for an academic job, but the number one thing to consider is does that school you’re applying for a position at do what you do? Communication is a very diverse field, just look at the National Communication Association’s website. Don’t necessary look for silos, don’t think that just because your specialty is in organizational communication you can’t do anything else. Find topic and content areas that have overlap and you can find a great position that fits well for you.

What is your favorite aspect of working at Kent State University?

Amazing mentors. I got here in July, and within a day I had so many of the faculty here sending me emails, asking to get lunch and offering their help and advice on anything I may have questions with. What’s been great is those relationships have continued to develop so I know that I can now go to basically anybody in the school and ask for help if I need it. They’re very genuine and kind and excited to work with me, it’s an ideal working environment.

What do you like most working in the communication department?

Firstly, this is a student population that has a lot of real-world experiences. A lot of students have jobs and are really involved outside of the classroom, and for someone who teaches organizational communication, connecting my students to what I’m teaching them and having them connect those skills to their lives seems to be easier. The information is relevant to them, so it makes it even more exciting and fulfilling. Secondly, we’re in new Taylor Hall. I had a lovely building beforehand, but my entire back wall of my office is a window and I get to see students walking and overlook the commons all day. The facilities are delightful and new, it’s wonderful.