Second-year communication and rhetorical studies (CRS) students Macklin Brigham, Seth Knievel, Maria Larcomb, Shewit Mikael, Yiqing Ran, Lauren Wiener, and Hanyuan Zhang (pictured, left to right) were interviewed for this Q and A.
Where are you from, and where did you go for your undergraduate degree?
Macklin Brigham: I’m from Cherry Valley, New York, and went to undergrad at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York (’19).
Seth Knievel: I’m from Austin, Texas, and went to the University of North Texas in Denton for my undergraduate.
Maria Larcomb: I am from Tampa, Florida, and went to undergrad at the University of South Florida, which is located in my hometown.
Shewit Mikael: I’m from Denver, Colorado, and attended the University of Denver. It was important to me to further my education in another state.
Yiqing Ran: I was born and raised in the southwest part of China and came to the U.S. to get a bachelor’s degree at the University of Colorado Denver, majoring in communication and minoring in international studies and women and gender studies.
Lauren Wiener: I’m born and raised in Long Island, New York, a train ride away from New York City. Long Island is nice because on one end it’s vineyards and cows, and on the other end it’s the greatest most busy city in the world! As for my undergrad, I’ve not changed my Orange ways! I was here at Syracuse University as an undergraduate working on my dual English and textual studies/sociology degree.
Hanyuan Zhang: I am from China. I studied public administration at Rutgers University in New Jersey as an undergraduate.
What are your academic interests?
MB: Film and film analysis, psychoanalysis, abjection, liminality, and queer theory.
SK: I’m generally interested in the intersections of rhetoric, queer studies, and performance studies. My research at Syracuse University has generally focused on the rhetorical underpinnings of everyday lived performance for queer men.
ML: My academic interests lie in professional writing, communication, foster care rhetoric, and digital media.
SM: I’m interested in immigration rhetoric. Specifically, how immigration legislation functions as a covert form of apology on behalf of the nation state. I’m also interested in health communication and how East African women are treated in the Western health care world.
YR: My research interests are intercultural communication, international studies, postcolonialism, decolonial studies, cultural studies, and women and gender studies.
LW: My academic interest is in esports and gaming; I am a massive fan of rhetoric surrounding interactivity and apply this with a focus on community engagement, language and intent, and social legitimacy in the industry. I additionally operate with a focus on representation and the fundamental flaws in the foundation of gaming/esports that continue to perpetuate inequality within it. I was the co-founder and former president of the esports club on campus, growing it from nothing to the wonderful esports community SU has today, so to say I’m invested is an understatement.
HZ: My academic interests are Asian rhetoric and gender studies.
If you have taught, what class did you last teach? How was your experience?
MB: I’ve been teaching every semester I’ve been in this M.A. program. Most recently, I taught CRS 325: Presentational Speaking, which is an upper-level public speaking course. It was my first time teaching a class in person and the first time I was teaching a full-on class and not a recitation, but aside from some minor organizational issues on my end, things went pretty well! It was a great, valuable experience!
SK: I’ve taught public speaking every semester here at SU, most recently public speaking for Ph.D. candidates in engineering. I’ve enjoyed learning more about myself while teaching because I work with so many different students, and they all stretch my thinking about the world.
ML: The last course I taught was CRS 325: Presentational Speaking. The experience of being the sole instructor for the course was intimidating but also very rewarding.
SM: So far I have taught CRS 181(Foundations of Communication), CRS 225 (Public Advocacy), and CRS 325 (Presentational Speaking). I have done recitations and taught classes, and I love how it has given me the experience to craft a teaching persona.
YR: I taught CRS 325 Presentational Speaking in Fall 2021. This is an unforgettable experience for me. While teaching students how to make a speech, I also learned a lot from my students’ speeches. I really enjoy this kind of cross-cultural communication space.
LW: My last teaching assignment was for CRS 225 Public Advocacy, which was really fun! This class is all about growing your communication and speech composition skills, so the students were from many different disciplines within SU.
HZ: Last semester I taught CRS 225 Public Advocacy. The experience of this course was very good; the students were friendly, and it also enriched my understanding of the CRS major.
Why did you go to graduate school?
MB: I decided to go to grad school because I wanted to pursue a career in higher education. I could also feel my brain turning to mush at my cashier job and wanted to save as much of that as possible.
SK: I chose to go to grad school because I realized in undergrad that some of the most influential people in my life were the professors who took the time to really teach me and help me along. My intention is to earn a degree that allows me to make a similar impact on future students as my mentors made for me.
ML: Truthfully, I decided to attend graduate school because I wasn’t ready to enter the workforce yet. I have always really enjoyed school, and so I wasn’t ready to give that up for a full-time job. Going to grad school has allowed me to work on a schedule that still allows me to study the subjects I am interested in, which has been really wonderful.
SM: I loved communication and rhetoric in my undergrad. I found the research I could do to be incredibly helpful and help my community. I had actually worked in a corporation for two years prior to this, and I was ready for a change.
YR: Because I found myself interested in many areas, and I still have a lot of questions I wanted to explore during my undergraduate studies. I am not tired of school life and study itself, so I think I can do academia.
LW: My friends like to joke that I am forever entranced by the growth of the gaming community here at SU akin to a sirens call, but the real reason that I went to grad school was because I honestly felt like I had so much more to learn in my field. English and sociology are a great combo that worked to kickstart and grow my interest, but my master’s in communications and rhetoric is what I truly needed to understand what makes people and language tick.
HZ: To be honest, upgrading my education to find a better job is my original reason. However, through further research and study, I found that rhetoric is really a very meaningful and practical subject.
What do you hope to gain from your graduate experience?
MB: I hope to gain some more confidence in my teaching and in the work I put out as a student in the program.
SK: Ideally I’d like to gain a master’s degree. Other than that, networking has been my biggest priority. The scholars at SU, as well as the wide array of students, are folks I want to build professional relationships with for the rest of my career.
ML: From graduate school I hope to obtain stronger analysis skills, the opportunity to work with peers also interested in rhetoric/communication, and the chance to continue engaging with academic work.
SM: Other than a master’s degree, I hope to gain a certainty about what I’m interested in academically as well as a certainty of my character.
YR: In the graduate program, I have already detailed the fields that I am interested in and capable of studying. I hope that I can learn more knowledge and have more perspectives and at the same time have a clearer view of myself and have a reasonable plan for my future.
LW: I love people, I love language, and I love social rhetoric and analysis. Learning communication and rhetorical studies is the best for all three! I hope to gain a lifelong understanding of communications so that I can use my skills to have a fulfilling and successful career working with people in exciting, socially energized industries that all want to further the reach and legitimacy of the gaming community.
HZ: Basically, my language ability has greatly improved; I have mastered English more skillfully. Secondly, postgraduate experience has strengthened my expression level and logical thinking ability, which is my biggest gain.