Rebekah Choi ’20 was not attending any communication arts classes Nov. 14-17, all because she was presenting her own original research at the National Communication Association (NCA) annual convention in Baltimore, MD.
Choi was one of seven undergraduate presenters who shared their research over the weekend. The conference hosted around 4,000 attendees, which included prominent communications scholars such as such as Sonja K. Foss, the author of the textbook used for Gordon’s Media Criticism class. According to Christine Gardner, Chair of the department of communications, Choi’s participation in the convention was no small thing.
“NCA is the premier academic association for the communication discipline,” said Gardner in an email. “[Choi] had to submit her work for peer review just like professors do. Not many are selected for presentation. This is a high honor and reflects the excellence of her research.”
Choi first pursued her research on the marketing messages of the ethical and sustainable fashion brand, Everlane, in Media Criticism class with Gardner. Choi continued to examine the topic in an independent study the following semester, in the fall of her junior year. After encouragement from Gardner, Choi submitted her paper to the NCA through Gordon’s chapter of Lambda Pi Eta, the association’s undergraduate honors society.
With funding from the Undergraduate Research Council (URC), a service by the Gordon College Student Association (GCSA) that awards funds to students who are presenting at or pursuing research at conferences, and some travel grants from the NCA, Choi was able to cover the costs of attending the conference, food, lodging, and airfare.
As someone who wants to pursue post-graduate academic studies in communications theory, Choi found the weekend energizing.
“Audience members seemed really engaged, and they all were really encouraging,” said Choi, “I really walked away from the experience feeling so encouraged, even though I was just an undergraduate researcher. And even though I may not be experienced as everyone else.”
In addition to presenting her research and hearing from other researchers, Choi was able to meet with professors of prospective graduate programs.
“Everyone was surprisingly really eager to speak with…a prospective student or a fresh, rising researcher,” said Choi.
Gardner, who attended the conference and Choi’s presentation, is a strong supporter of students submitting their work for presentation.
“I strongly encourage students to consider submitting their original research,” Gardner says, “Part of the process of building knowledge involves sharing your findings with others. Presenting your research at an academic conference is a great place to reach an audience beyond the classroom.”