Student, or, Community Servant?   Leave a comment

“Sed ministrare, non ministrare”, or “Not to be served, but to serve” is the official motto of Queens.  When I was a freshman, these words didn’t mean anything to me.  The extent of my dedication to the community went as far as the walk to Freedom Park to plant trees at nine o’clock in the morning.  However, the Core program has introduced me to a number of different philosophies that have added to my own conception of Community.

Little Sugar Creek, where I planted trees as a part of Freshmen Core, photo credit:

In order to understand my current views on the community, it is important to discuss my development through college.  In 2009, I was 18 years old and had moved to Charlotte from Orange County, California.  This was the first time that I had lived on my own, which coupled with the inflated ego of a recent High School Senior, which prevented me from truly caring about community service.  As I look back on the situation now, I like to think that the reason for my apathy was that I wasn’t really a member of the Charlotte community.  My home was a dorm room on campus, and my community consisted of my peers; that’s where my thoughts were concerned.  I thought that Intro to Nobel Lives was a great course, and Dr. Frederick taught with a sense of true dedication.  However, I really didn’t think about the material.  I read the texts, took the quizzes and exams and I earned a ‘B’, and that was that.

Another important development in my appreciation of community service was my commitment to PUSH America, the national philanthropy of Pi Kappa Phi.  My brothers pride themselves on their constant dedication to community service, and we have won awards like the Greek Service House of the Year.  It was different to have a group of my peers, as well as my friends that expressed an interest in volunteering.  If nothing else, volunteering was a great way to get off campus and earn a free meal.  However, over time, I began to look past the long hours spent volunteering, and I began to consider the lasting impacts behind service.

Scaffold Sit: A Philanthropy event hosted by Pi Kappa Phi designed to raise money for people with disabilities

Scaffold Sit: A Philanthropy event hosted by Pi Kappa Phi designed to raise money for people with disabilities

I am currently enrolled in the final installment of the Core program, or Applied Ethics.  This has been a truly eye-opening class for me.  By considering a number of different philosophies to live by, then applying those philosophies to current news articles, Dr. Goode has been able to teach me about the lasting significance of service.  True service isn’t just showing up to a Soup Kitchen to make a homeless person a sandwich; it’s about showing that homeless person that somebody still cares.  Service is one of the best outlets in which people can express their feelings to their peers, because service isn’t just a discussion, it is an action.  Queens has provided me with a thorough and thoughtful education, but I believe that what I learned in Core will be very important to my future.


Posted February 21, 2013 by Big Man's Research Adventures in Capstone Reflections

Global Recognition, the power of perspective   Leave a comment

I took Dr. Nawawy’s Middle Eastern Media class in my freshmen year.  At first, I was intimidated by the 300 level course code, but Dr. Nawawy assured me that I could handle the demands of the course.  He immediately began assigning hundreds of pages of reading at a time.  The course used a number of recourses such as a myriad of academic journals regarding the current state of the various Middle Eastern nations, online articles that included graphic news stories, as well as a book about the Middle Eastern news station Al-Jazeera that Dr. Nawawy wrote himself.  Dr. Nawawy assigned all of this reading in the first portion of the semester so that he could prepare his students for their participation in the experimental educational program Soliya.

Soliya is an organization dedicated to the promotion of discourse amongst young adults from across the world.  Professors’ sign up their students for the program, and the program facilitators develop a number of topics for their student groups to discuss.  This program was such an eye-opening experience for me; I had never had the opportunity to discuss politics with students from Europe and the Middle East before.  When I started the Soliya program in the second half of the semester, I remember silently thanking Dr. Nawawy for assigning such a tremendous amount of reading because it forced me to learn about a completely different culture.  The students that were assigned to my group came from a number of countries and continents; there was a girl from Germany, a guy from Moracco, a set of fraternal twins from Pakistan, and many more.  We had a number of discussions about various topics like the US military involvement in the Middle East, the horrors of the attacks of terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda, as well as more entertaining topics like the latest soccer (or football) scores.    This was such a unique experience, none of my friends at other colleges participated in a program anything close to Soliya.

What a Soliya conference looks like

What a Soliya conference looks like

One of the things that Dr. Nawawy would repeat in class was “try to think from their perspective.”  I thought that was sound advice because the entire point of Soliya was to build international bridges of communication.  There were times where I was criticized for the nationality of my passport, but rather than retaliate with a regurgitated response about ensuring freedom and democracy for citizens across the globe, I would try to interpret the United States intervention as a local Pakistani citizen, which would lead to the general understanding that while the US might have good intentions, their presence draws the attention of organizations like Al-Qaeda, who often target Pakistani citizens in their attempts to harm the US military.  Without participating in Soliya, I never would have been able to think so unbiasedly.  Middle Eastern Media was such a critical class in my college career because it connected me to the foreign news press.  By monitoring news stations like BBC and Al-Jazeera, I have accumulated a better understanding of the world that I live in today.    

Posted February 21, 2013 by Big Man's Research Adventures in Capstone Reflections

Concentrating on Media: What’s the point?   Leave a comment

I have never regretted my decision to concentrate in Media Studies.  The skills that I have learned have been very beneficial to my educational development.  In order to complete the Media concentration, I needed to take Mass Communication, Media Law & Ethics, Media Aesthetics, Middle East Media, as well as two elective classes.  I can barely wrap my mind around how quickly these past three and a half years have gone by, but at the same time I have such vivid memories from each class that I have taken.  However, at this point in time, it is difficult to determine the most impactful things that I have learned.

One of the main goals of the Knight School of Communication is to increase digital literacy, which means looking past the simple function of the technology to understand the way that new mass media technology has left lasting effects on American culture.  The Media concentration is essentially made up of classes that teach either, how to use the technology, or how to implement the technology.  I enjoyed the classes that focused on the implementation of the new technology, because it meant that I had to reflect on the way that people use websites like YouTube and Facebook to communicate.  Professor Brooks’ Media Law & Ethics course was one of the most challenging classes in the Media Concentration.  Other classes like Media Aesthetics and Digital Productions taught me how to use new technology, but Professor Brooks required that his students move past the simple functions of the technology to investigate the lasting impacts that new mass media forums have had on our culture through a legal perspective.

Professor Brooks’ class started with an overview of the United States legal system, and an introduction to case studies.  All of the examples that we learned in class built on top of one another in a collaborative effort that helped to illustrate the importance of legal precedent, and how new mass media technologies like personal blogs, WikiLeaks, and video sites like YouTube have made a tremendous impact on the way humans communicate.  I think that this class was very effective at showing the impact that new mass media programs have had on our culture, because Professor Brooks didn’t focus on the technology itself, instead, he would discuss how the new technology was being used, and how the use of this technology has been incorporated into the legal tradition of the United States.  These legal implications were explored as part of the course’s final essay, in which students were expected to write about a current event that embodied some kind of unconstitutional injustice.  To get a better idea of what Professor Brooks expected from his students, please review my final submission.  Stopping the Presses: An Analysis of the American Collegiate Press

Posted February 21, 2013 by Big Man's Research Adventures in Capstone Reflections

The joys of research…   Leave a comment

I have a love hate relationship with conducting Communication research.  On one hand, research provides the opportunity to learn more about any particular subject.  On the other hand, I have never been asked to conduct research for the sake of learning something new, it seems as if a twenty-page term paper has been permanently chained to the idea of research.  That being said, the majority of the classes that I have taken at Queens have required some kind of research-based term paper.

As I progressed through the Communication program, my professors continued to raise their expectations for the work that I submitted.  I have written more than six research papers so far, none of which were as difficult and tedious than the research report that I wrote for Middle Eastern Media.  Dr. Nawawy assigned research topics for his students in an attempt to provide a clear starting point.  I was assigned the topic of ‘reality television in the Middle East’, and I nearly fainted when I realized that the paper needed to be at least ten pages long.


The idea of writing more than ten pages on anything seemed completely ridiculous to me as a freshmen, but Dr. Nawawy helped me throughout the entire process.  He helped review journal articles with me to make sure that my research had a strong foundation, and he must have reviewed at least four different drafts of my paper before I submitted the final copy.

What I remember about my research on Middle Eastern reality television was that it took an incredible amount of work.  I felt as if I was trying to stitch together tiny portions of one person’s thoughts into my own report.  Even when I was frustrated, the encouragement of Dr. Nawawy was enough to help me finish my research.  Dr. Nawawy advised me on how to tackle a research report in a number of ways, especially when it came to constructing an outline.  The amount of individual attention that Dr. Nawawy was able to give me was substantial.

My other research reports have highlighted a number of topics like: the mechanics of proxemics in regards to nonverbal communication, an investigation of the cultural significance of the television show Weeds, as well as an examination of the correlations between personality type and reality television program preference.  Throughout the ordeal of writing over 100 pages of research reports, I can still imagine Dr. Nawawy looking over my shoulder, encouraging me to dig a little deeper; to strive for excellence.  Admittedly, conducting research is a very extensive process, but when I look back on all of the knowledge that I have learned, and how far my own skills in writing and research have come, I smile because I know that it was all worth it.

Reality TV and its effects on the Middle East

Posted February 21, 2013 by Big Man's Research Adventures in Capstone Reflections

Applying new media techniques to my experience   Leave a comment

My experience with the Knight School has brought me into contact with a number of different technologies. Dr. Neale offered a number of classes that taught me a number of techniques.  He taught both the introductory and advanced level course of Digital Productions, which showed the student how to edit audio tracks as well as video files.  Dr. Neale was very knowledgeable of his field, and I remember how easy he made editing seem.  While he was successful in teaching us the tedious task of editing, he was not able to pass on his own years of experience that allowed him to edit with ease.  Throughout my time at Queens, I had a number of different opportunities to utilize my editing skills.  I learned how to use a Green Screen to project my own backgrounds, and used it in a class project that created a satirical news show called “Queens News”.  I have also created news broadcasts that discussed the horrors of the Gaza Strip for Middle Eastern Media. 

Despite the number of editing techniques that I learned, the most important lessons that the Knight School taught me were about different ways to use technology that I was already familiar with.  Dr. MacArthur teaches a number of courses at Queens, and he continuously brings a level of enthusiasm and passion to his classes that few professors can match.  One of his courses, Integrated Strategic Communication was one of my favorites.  Dr. MacArthur continually challenged his student’s to think outside of the box; to find new ways to use the same technology that his student’s were already familiar with.  Before this class, I thought that websites like Facebook and Twitter were strictly for socializing, posting photos, or discovering new music.  However, Dr. MacArthur forced me to register a Twitter account, and then use it for his class.  Part of the assignment was to follow different news stations to compare their different coverage of the same story.  More importantly than learn a new way to read the news, Dr. MacArthur’s continued stress of the importance of perspective helped me understand that for a local business, Facebook isn’t merely a forum for free advertising, it is a virtual community to represent their business.

These editing and perspective skills have been very important to my education, but will prove even more important to my future.  After I graduate next fall, I will be looking for a new job. I am not entirely sure what I want to do, but I know that I want to enter into the field of Public Relations or Marketing.  This is a rapidly changing field, and those that wish to stay current need to be constantly looking for the newest forms of communication.  My professors didn’t just teach me how to make a Facebook profile for a business, but they taught me about how to think about using new technology.  Rather than obsessing over the newest developments, I understand that individuals should be concerned with how to most effectively use these new technologies. 

Posted February 21, 2013 by Big Man's Research Adventures in Comm 306

The most important thing isn’t always what you expect   Leave a comment

In order to discuss the classes that have had an impact on my writing, it is important to note that I am pursuing a degree in both Media Communication, and English Literature simultaneously.  There have been a number of instances where my Communication background has influenced my literary studies, and there have been just as many times where my background in Literature has influenced my studies in Communication.  These two disciplines share a number of similarities, which allow for a certain amount of transferable knowledge between the fields.  The most notable similarity between the study of Literature and Communication is that both require the ability to recognize the cultural significance behind text.

The class that had the most impact on my writing was Dr. Kobre’s Studies in Literary Criticism.  This is course is the literary equivalent of the Communication Capstone class.  Dr. Kobre used this class to teach me about the number of different literary movements, and the schools of criticism that provided significant developments to the literary cannon.  This was the first English class that I had ever taken where the plot of the story was insignificant to the class discussion, because Dr. Kobre highlighted only specific passages or segments of dialogue.  This emphasis on the intricate workings of prose helped Dr. Kobre to ensure that his students focused on the literary theories that reflected the cultural values of their time.  The final assignment for the Literary Criticism class was to write an essay that applied one of the literary critiques that we had learned to an existing work of fiction.  I chose New Historicism, a theory that believed that an author’s work is a reflection of the time period that they wrote about.  While I was writing this critique, I couldn’t help but notice that both Literature and Communication are fields of study that are dedicated to understanding developments in human culture.  What is truly interesting about New Historicism is that it suggests that an individual work is reflective of the culture that created it, which is synonymous with Communication’s attempt to understand how developments in mass media technology point influence specific cultural values.

My English courses taught me to write with a—certain, dramatic flair.  Unfortunately, that is not necessarily the right style for Communication.  One of the biggest struggles that I have with translating the formal, literary, prose into more specific, Communication-jargon is that I subconsciously screen my language.  My Literature professors were always encouraging me to find a different way to say the same thing; as a result, I substitute technical terms with synonyms.  However, this habit of substitution is more of an inconvenience than a fundamental flaw.  My Literature background was definitely responsible for the development of my writing style, but my studies in Communication have helped me to understand the more technical aspects of writing.   Regardless, both of my majors have instilled me with the ability to write with a sense of clarity and purpose; a skill that I will definitely utilize in my future.

Posted February 21, 2013 by Big Man's Research Adventures in Capstone Reflections

A Somber Presentation: Public Speaking in Action   Leave a comment

Most would assume that Communication majors would naturally possess the ability to give a good speech.  Unfortunately, that is not always the case.  One of the most important qualities that an individual could master is the art of rhetoric, or public speaking.  It makes sense that Public Speaking is one of the prerequisite courses required for any student that wishes to study in the Knight School of Communication.  Dr. Marcy was an incredible professor; he always maintained an air of kindness and warmth that shone through his speeches.  He was very encouraging; pushing his students to their comfort zones, and then a little bit further.  Dr. Marcy would develop a number of assignments that required his students to think about their responses with a moments notice.  These topics were usually random, varying in a number of scenarios.  Even if a student had trouble in coming up with a speech, Dr. Marcy was always encouraging and did his best to help them write their own speech. 

      I took Dr. Marcy’s Public Speaking class in my freshmen year; one of the smartest decisions I have ever made.  This helped me understand the components of a good speech: What is the occasion for the speech?  Who is my audience?  What is expected from my speech?  These are all important things to consider before delivering a presentation of any kind.  I have always been able to portray my thoughts into prose, but this class helped to prepare me for one of the most difficult things that I have ever had the displeasure of having to do- delivering my mother’s eulogy.

      When my mother passed away, the funeral home director helped my father and I plan the event.  One of the things that we discussed was who was to deliver the eulogy.  My dad looked to me, and squeezed my shoulder—his way of volunteering my services.  When I was trying to think of what to write, I could vividly remember what Dr. Marcy had taught me, “If your audience is going to take away one thought from your speech, what would you want that thought to be?”  This advice helped me in more ways that I could ever put into words.  When it was time for my presentation, I couldn’t think of any way that I could possibly deliver.  However, I rose to the occasion, and I thanked my mother for everything that she had done for me. 

            I am glad that not many people have had to deliver the same speech that I had to.  To this day, I still do not know how I came up with the words that expressed my pain, but even when I was most vulnerable, I remembered my lessons with Dr. Marcy.  After giving the eulogy, I realize that I am capable of talking about anything.  Whether it is a presentation of my internship experience, or it is a presentation outlining my findings in Capstone, my experiences and the education I received from the Knight School of Communication have given me an incredible gift. 

Posted February 21, 2013 by Big Man's Research Adventures in Capstone Reflections