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School of Communication & the Arts Ph.D. Students Present Research

Photo courtesy of Hanisha Besant.
Photo courtesy of Hanisha Besant.

Regent University School of Communication & the Arts (SCA) doctoral students are changing the world one MLA-cited research paper at a time.

During Spring Semester 2016, more than a dozen SCA students seeking their Ph.D. candidacy were selected to present their research at several conferences around the nation.

“When faculty and graduate students from other universities see Regent as one of other main sets of colleagues at conference, they’ll see us as a name to be respected in the field,” said SCA professor, Dr. Stephen Perry. “This is part of how we shot through the field of communication that Regent is training future leaders in our discipline.”

This was encouraging to current Ph.D. student, Jonathan Powers ’19 (SCA), who submitted his paper on The Art of John Ford and Gregg Toland and the Story of their Pearl Harbor Film, which was accepted to the History Division of the Broadcast Education Association.

“When a scholar is recognized outside their institution for the quality of their work, it says something about the university, their professors and its students,” said Powers. “I’m hoping this is the first of many. Regent has prepared me first as a scholar and has given me the mental tools to ‘hang with’ the best.”

Nadine Cosby ’17 (SCA), who submitted her paper titled Finding God on a Deserted Island: Religious Rhetoric on LOST, recently won top paper at the Entertainment Division at the Association for Education and Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) Midwinter Conference 2016.

“Media has such a strong influence on society, and it’s only growing stronger with each generation,” said Cosby. “Through the media, young people are shaping their perceptions of race, cultures, politics and even their faith systems. That’s powerful and definitely something that should be looked at more closely.”

This is what inspired Hanisha Besant’s ’18 (SCA) research. She presented her paper, Fantasy-Themes in Donald Trump’s Presidential Campaign Announcement Speech and Audience Reaction at the AEJMC Southeast Colloquium this March.

Besant believes that the conference experience will give her a jump-start on her future teaching career.

“I’m pursuing it because I genuinely feel like the Lord called me to teach,” said Besant. “It’s one thing I’ve always enjoyed doing throughout my life; I’m a natural teacher.”

She explained the field of communications is the “most underrepresented” when it comes to people of the Christian faith.

“I hope to fill in the gaps through my contributions,” said Besant.

Her research contributions follow the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, delving into his campaign announcement speech and the symbolism, and what she calls a “fantasy theme analysis” in breaking down rhetorical and critical analysis of communication. It won the top student paper award in the open division of her conference.

Besant hopes to have a future career as teacher, reining her skills as a “natural educator.” She explained the professors in her program have encouraged her to pursue her passion.

“Not many professors will tell you to write with a conference in mind, but the way [Dr. Perry] designs his classes, you can’t help but start thinking of it ahead of time,” said Besant. “He’s a brilliant strategist, and he makes you believe it’s possible.”

Perry explained that the number of students whose research has been accepted at various conferences speak for themselves. That is to say, they show he’s doing his job. It’s encouraging him as an educator.

“Evaluations are important, but if the students in the end are successful when they’ve submitted their research for consideration [at a conference], this is a good indicator,” said Perry. “We have a heavy emphasis on the research we do, and it shows we’re making a difference in the world. This is the way we do this as scholars.”

Learn more about Regent University’s School of Communication & the Arts.