Graduate Student Spotlights
Click the photos below to learn about some of our outstanding
Department of Communication graduate students.
Allison BlumlingPhD student in Rhetoric and Critical/Cultural Studies
I research discourses of health and healing, specifically the roles of whiteness and neocolonialism in the U.S. American wellness/alternative healing industry.
My absolute favorite thing about living here has been the Sundance Film Festival, but I've also found some time to enjoy the local arts culture and the proximity to so many awesome National Parks.
Daniel Chavez-YenterPhD student in CommSHER
There’s lots of great food, breweries and parks to visit around Salt Lake City.
For research, there’s a lot of faculty support for funding opportunities within and beyond the University. My particular research assistantship includes funding and plenty of opportunities for travel and research materials, which has been helpful for moving forward with my own research agenda.
Euni KimPhD student in Rhetoric and Critical/Cultural Studies
I'm interested in the ways that people and communities of color represent and conceptualize their own racial identities. Most recently, I've been focusing on how structural violence might be configured as a core component of racial identity writ large.
I'm actually not very outdoorsy, so while the landscapes out here are absolutely beautiful, what I really appreciate about Salt Lake City is how much it feels like a "small" town—it's quieter, there's less traffic, the average person tends to be pretty nice, the cost of living isn't very high, and it's very pedestrian-friendly. But we still have "big city" amenities, like plenty of good restaurants and great public transportation options.
I've been incredibly grateful for the mentorship I've received here. Yes, the difficulty of the program itself is designed to prepare you for an academic career, but I feel so much more prepared because of our faculty's willingness to mentor students and really invest in their success (like co-authoring articles or book chapters with graduate students).
Our department has a very high-output culture, but it is also very collaborative and supportive, rather competitive. It very much feels as though faculty are *encouraging* me to pursue a high-output path, rather than punishing me if I don't.
Grace RogersMA, Critical/Cultural Studies
Critical media studies, focusing on Asian Americans in pop culture, film, and TV.
I really appreciate that Salt Lake has such a variety of things to do! I'm not a very outdoorsy person, but I've really enjoyed some of the easier hikes and water activities that Utah has to offer. I also love exploring the food/coffee scene, as well as a lot of the cultural opportunities that the city has to offer.
Everyone here has such a wide variety of research interests and areas of expertise! I am constantly learning from my peers and professors alike, and the support that we provide to each other often helps to relieve the pressures that are a part of being a grad student.
Henry AllenMS, CommSHER
Science communication. At the moment, my research is looking at evaluating trust in science and STEM self-identity across different communities.
I enjoy living in Salt Lake for the outdoors. The variable seasons are very pleasant, even if Summer can be a little hot!
The program here at the U feels very flexible towards the needs of students. I feel like grad student feedback is meaningfully considered and acted on.
The department’s culture is great! Everyone is friendly and respectful.
O.M. OlaniyanPhD, Critical/Cultural Studies
I study narratives of global Blackness and diasporic belonging from a critical anti-colonial perspective. Specifically, my dissertation is focused on how #EndSARS (movement against police brutality in Nigeria) is interpreted within a diasporic narrative by Black people across the world.
The free public transportation the University provides is a huge plus!
I have learned so much from various professors in my classes; I refer frequently to notes and assignments I did during the first two years of coursework. It has also been amazing to learn from faculty outside of class, whether that’s chatting over lunch, serving on a committee together, or running into them at conferences. During the pandemic, I greatly appreciated the way department administrators remained flexible and fought for graduate students to have financial and academic support. And finally, I am incredibly lucky to have strong support and continuous wisdom from my advisor.
Every department has its problems and issues of meritocratic elitism, overwork, exclusion are common across academia. That being said, I have found that our department culture increasingly prioritized being vocal about those issues, rather than brushing them under the rug. Additionally, our department goes above and beyond to maintain welcome and support for students as a continual practice, not just once at the beginning.
Jessie ChaplainPhD, Rhetoric
Climate Justice Activist Rhetorics, right now, specifically, Indigenous Climate Activism within the United Nations Climate Change Conferences.
Salt Lake City is a beautiful place. The surrounding area offers many amazing activities and experiences.
The program is very supportive of graduate students, always proactively finding ways to help them succeed.
Our department has amazing people working to make the university and Salt Lake City a more diverse and welcoming place. I am astounded by the ways in which many in our department put their research into action.