[R] is for Research Interests – Part II

Before finishing off my undergraduate degree, one of my favourite professors asked me if I had ever considered grad school. I had, but money was an issue. I had tapped out my OSAP funding and couldn’t even pay off my last semester of tuition. I owed the university money, which I had to pay to literally get a copy of my diploma, so that I could give my future employer (the federal government) a copy of said diploma to complete my hiring package and get a job after undergrad. I ended up taking out a loan through a private banking institution – my debt load and repayment is a topic for another day – to cross off that requirement.


I spent about 8 months in the federal government, working first as an Executive Assistant and then as a Question Period Officer, before deciding to return to school. My work schedule and supervisor, as well as the Master of Arts program in Communication at the University of Ottawa, were flexible enough that I was able to enrol as a “Special Student” and begin graduate courses a semester early. I had been accepted to start the M.A. program in the Fall, but wanted to get a head start! The summer was a quiet time for a QP Officer, so physically going to class didn’t conflict with my work schedule.

When I applied to UOttawa, I had proposed studying the use of the television series 24 as a tool of propaganda. I had never seen a full episode, only previews for the series shown during the commercials of the shows that I watched (mostly reality television), and couldn’t get over how overtly racist it seemed. Although I’ve written several papers and even presented on the topic (i.e. the use of the ticking clock, the possibility that the portrayal of David Palmer paved the way for Barack Obama) and have some very interesting theories about the power of 24 (and television in general), I ended up switching topics following a seminar with my future supervisor.


 To be continued…

[R] is for Research Interests – Part I

In addition to my field of study, my research interests have evolved since the beginning of my post-secondary ‘career’. Originally enrolled at the University of Ottawa in Environmental Studies (the artsy version of Environmental Sciences), I realized at a young age that the domain of traditional science isn’t for me. I struggled through classes in physical geography and evolutionary biology. I dabbled in microeconomics and the mandatory first-year philosophy classes and was miserable. I ended up on academic probation and felt lost academically. I’d never failed at anything before and wasn’t sure how to handle it or what to do next. That’s when a friend from grade school (who I happened to run into in one of those philosophy classes) suggested I register for an introductory class in Communications Studies.


From the moment my professor walked into class, a respectable but hip man with a grey suit and a pierced ear, and started talking about the Internet and mobile phones, I was hooked! I pulled my act together fairly quickly, retaking the classes that I’d flunked – turns out that that “E” on my transcripts didn’t stand for “Excellent” – and adding in summer classes, with the goal of raising my GPA so that I could switch into an Honours program, majoring in Communications and minoring in Business Administration.

Success! In the summer semester of my second year, I officially transferred in and spent the rest of my undergrad making up for lost time. I completed my minor in Business Administration (nearly minoring in Accounting at the same time) as well as the major in Communications. The two programs complimented each other nicely – in Comms, I learned the theory behind the media; in Business, I learned the ‘bizness’ of the media, taking several marketing classes and putting theory to practice. All of those accounting classes were an added bonus.


To be continued…