Special Initiative Award
Winner: Joey Richards by Elaine Schnabel
I think it is very hard to be present with your colleagues during graduate school, especially during a pandemic. Yet Joey Richards is somehow always present with their colleagues–present in the sense that they always are listening closely enough to offer a joke or a supportive text. But also present just in the sense of coming to every meeting for the GSA prepared, with detailed notes and thoughts from GPSF meetings they also attended. They are always looking out for the interests of all graduate students. Especially during this past year of the pandemic, Joey has been a source of much-needed life in our graduate community. Image Credit: Donn Young/College of Arts and Sciences
Jim Lampley Award
Winners: Isabel Estes, Gina Park and Bea Manaligod by Joyce Rudinsky
Isabel (Izzie) Estes (from Kill Devil Hills, NC) is one of three recipients of the Jim Lampley award for excellence in new media production. Izzie is a double major in the Department of Communications (with a concentration in new media) and Department of English and Comparative Literature (with a concentration in creative writing). Her interests include storytelling across media, and especially in the way the unique aspects of a particular medium can be used to enhance the experience of a player/viewer/reader. She plans to enter the video game industry and be involved with narrative, audio, or level design. She has contributed to/created a handful of games and demos throughout her college career including a browser game The Legend of Ada, a Twine game Just Write the Essay, and a playable demo for The Choice is Yours. Her work is thoughtful and well designed and demonstrates her strong skills in making and writing.
Gina Park (from Charlotte, NC) is one of three recipients of the Jim Lampley award for excellence in new media production. Gina is a double major in in the Department of Communications (with a concentration in new media) and an Information Systems minor. In the new media track, she developed artistic skills in design, user experience, and visual communication. In her production work, Gina combines the aesthetic with the technical to make effective and interesting work. Her most recent video game project was The Fate of the Forest where she created an immersive experience about human impact on the environment. Gina plans to work in web development with a focus on aesthetics.
Bea Manaligod (from Waxhaw, NC) is one of three recipients of the Jim Lampley award for excellence in new media production. Bea is a double major in the Department of Communication (with a concentration in new media) and the Department of Computer Science. Bea skills are in both front end and back-end development. This includes UX design (user experience) and game development. She is also experienced with video editing, directing/designing/performing with student theatre, teaching/working with children, and playing/writing music. She worked at FreePN coding marketing tools as a Marketing and Growth Intern. Bea’s created a playable demo of a video game titled Escape From Twayne Hall, which was a commentary on student burn-out and constantly working on assignment after assignment. After graduation, she will be working as a Software Engineering Consultant with CapTech in Atlanta.
Lucia Morgan Scholarship
Winner: Cris McFarland by Kumi Silva
The Lucia Morgan Award is named in honor of a former faculty member specializing in Oral Interpretation and is presented to the undergraduate or graduate student who has excelled in Communication Studies. As her doctoral advisor, I am delighted that Cristina McFarland is this year’s recipient. As a second-year doctoral student, Cris continues to push her research on the the body, bleeding, and the feminine in exciting directions that, as her nominator notes, “pushes Communication… into greatly needed places and spaces”. Cris has carefully and thoughtfully crafted her research area and the work emerging from this interdisciplinary project is both innovative and thoughtful, but perhaps even more significantly, is driven by a commitment to interdisciplinarity and feminist ethics. ‘Thoughtful’ and ‘ethical’ are also words true of Cris as an individual. She takes seriously questions of ethics and ethical knowledge production. She asks challenging questions about voice and voicelessness and her own place in producing the work that she is so deeply committed to. It is because of these core values that I wholeheartedly agree with her nominator who noted that “we are more than lucky” to have Cris in the department. Cristina McFarland is indeed a worthy recipient of the Lucia Morgan Award.
NC TV Award
Winners: Emma Brown and Liz Hornick by Bill Brown
Emma has gone above and beyond in her contribution to the department by producing a short video that provides an overview of our program. With considerable craft and care, she has created an audio-visual document that communicates the department’s overall mission and the role of the various units. This video will greatly assist in promoting our major to potential students and the public at large.
Liz has made a lasting contribution to our department by assisting in the redesign and maintenance of the department’s website. In addition, she has provided invaluable assistance in creating the department’s commencement program slide show, creating new certificates for our departmental awards, and contributing to a variety of commencement-related projects.
John Robert Bittner Award Fund
Winners: Joey Richards and Kiara Childs by Tony Perucci and Renee Alexander Craft respectively
There are not enough superlatives for me to use to express the full scope of the ways in which Joey is both an outstanding student, teacher and contributor to the overall program. Some of that has been said in nominations for other awards. Let me just say here that I think this award would be particularly appropriate, given their study of stand-up comedy as “literature” that speaks to, with and against large-scale corporate media (e.g. Netflix) and instead through amateur videos and the “popular media” of social media platforms, such that they allow transnational alliances to be constructed, negotiated and contested. They, of course, function as a kind reportage, communicating not only information, but affect and community. And, they tell good jokes. Image Credit: Donn Young/ College of Arts and Sciences
John Robert Bittner Fund in Literature, Popular Media, and Journalism recognizes outstanding work by graduate students studying literature figures or movements that have important connections or expression in the popular media or press. The Department of Communication is pleased to recognize fourth-year doctoral student Kiara Childs for her important research on Black digital culture. Tentatively titled “’Black Women Are the Blueprint’: A Cross-platform Analysis on Black Women’s Online Labor within Beauty Culture,” Ms. Childs’ dissertation project examines Black women’s digital feminism and self-advocacy within digital beauty culture. Her research focuses on the ways in which Black women digital practitioners use social media to push back against practices of antiblackness and colorism as they build communities of affirmation, empowerment, and care. As our lives increasingly exist in a hybrid online/offline relationship and as we reckon with legacies of race- and gender-based exploitation and discrimination, Ms. Childs’ research is crucial. At its core, it contributes to the growing body of work that critiques digital spaces as replicating the same kinds of biases and inequity that exist offline. Her critical contribution is her intersectional analysis of the ways these types of biases and inequalities impact Black women online influencers and entrepreneurs. Her project stands to make important interventions in the fields of communication, critical race, and technology studies, feminist technology studies, women and gender studies, media studies, cultural studies, ethnic studies, and communication.
J. Robert Cox Award
Winners: Jing Jiang and Carolin Sudkamp by Sarah Dempsey and Steve May respectively
The Department of Communication is pleased to recognize Dr. Jing Jiang as this year’s recipient of the J Robert Cox Award for Outstanding Achievement in Scholarship. The award acknowledges research excellence by a graduate student and is named in honor of the significance of the research contributions of a cherished colleague in the department, J. Robert Cox. During her graduate career, Dr. Jiang has developed a creative and innovative line of research bringing much needed attention to subjectivity and identity as a key site to explore questions of meaning-making, cultural communication, and agency in global settings. Dr Jiang’s theoretical sophistication is well illustrated in her compelling dissertation, which significantly advances current understandings of employee well-being, workplace culture, and communication with a focus on contemporary Chinese practitioners. Dr. Jiang develops the original concept of “bounded imagination” to theorize employee communication and meaning making about their work lives. She highlights how workers’ future-oriented desires and aspirations are shaped by the cultural and socio-material context of their work. Her dissertation also increases understanding of broader issues related to globalization and international relations, a theme she takes up by focusing on how workers make sense of new technological demands and ideas related to international development. In addition, Dr. Jiang has also consistently demonstrated excellence in research through her numerous conference presentations, involvement in department colloquia, as well as by publishing her work in outlets such as Communication, Culture & Critique and the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication. Her research has been recognized by multiple awards and competitive fellowships, including an Off Campus Dissertation Research Fellowship, a Doctoral Degree Advancement Award, the Kenan Trust Graduate Research Award, and the Lenoir Williams Tucker Summer Research Fellowship. In addition, the Department recognizes Dr. Jiang’s leadership in field-building activities, including promoting scholarship, community-building, and mentorship among women of color in the communication discipline. For example, she has co-organized recurring panel discussions at the National Communication Association’s Annual Convention from 2017-2019 on “the relevance of feminism to women of color,” kindling conversations among an evolving collective of scholars about the intersections of research, teaching, and multiple aspects of identity. 2021 marks the fifth anniversary of these panels that are continuing with revolving leadership. For these many reasons, Dr. Jing Jiang is fully deserving of this award recognizing her impressive research achievements.
The Department of Communication is pleased to announce that Carolin Südkamp is the recipient of the J. Robert Cox Award for Outstanding Achievement in Scholarship. Carolin has developed a unique and substantive body of research on workplace precarity that will cause scholars to rethink traditional notions of work, precarity, and non-profit organizations while also informing both museum studies and organizational communication, respectively. Her scholarship is theoretically rich, methodologically complex and rigorous, and offers distinctive insights into today’s global challenges of work.
Her dissertation, “Personal Sacrifice for the Public Good: Precarious Work at the Museum,” is a groundbreaking, multi-method, cross-cultural analysis of precarious work in art museums in the United States and Germany. In the study, Carolin provides key insights about the entrenched, institutionalized nature of unpaid labor and underemployment in the arts sector. Her work is likely to shape the direction of non-profit studies, claiming that scholars in that area have unduly focused on volunteers at the expense of a close analysis of museum workers themselves who are, in contradictory fashion, simultaneously privileged, yet structurally precarious given the oversaturation of prospective employees willing to work in the arts for little or no pay.
In addition to this award, Carolin’s research, teaching, and service has been recognized via a number of grants and awards, including our department’s Outstanding Graduate Teacher award, a Humanities for the Public Good Fellowship at the Ackland Art Museum, and a James Peacock REACH Fellowship at the Center for Global Initiatives. She has been a regular contributor to a wide range of national and international conferences in Communication and Museum Studies. Most recently, she published “Resistant Transparency and Nonprofit Labor: Challenging Precarity in the Art + Museum Wage Transparency Campaign” in Management Communication Quarterly. Both the scope of her work and its impact is likely to be noticed in multiple fields and across several countries for years to come.
Martha Nell Hardy Award
Winner: Elaine Schnabel by Sarah Dempsey
The Department of Communication is pleased to recognize Elaine Schnabel as the recipient of this year’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Teaching. The award acknowledges the department’s strong commitment to teaching and honors one of the university’s outstanding educators, Martha Nell Hardy, who set a standard for high-quality teaching for so many years in our department. Elaine’s commitment to teaching, her passion for course content, her ongoing commitment to developing new teaching strategies amidst a pandemic, and her mentoring of students are the epitome of the award’s namesake. She is an accomplished, polished educator who has positively impacted so many of our students. Elaine’s students have described her as “engaging,” “witty,” “inspirational,” “motivating,” “insightful,” and a “teacher who cares about our well-being.” Faculty members who have observed her teaching describe her as a “seamless educational experience, moving easily between theory and practice, offering insights that are relevant to students, while also stretching them to consider their taken-for-granted assumptions.” In her courses, she is well-prepared, knowledgeable, and incredibly adept at communicating complex theories and concepts while, importantly, also grounding them in practical, real-world examples. The Department recognizes Elaine as an inspiring example of what becomes possible in the classroom when it is led by a strong teacher who is invested in her students’ learning.
Outstanding Achievement in Leadership Graduate
Winners: Zari Taylor and Codey Bills
Zari Taylor by Michael Palm and Kumi Silva
Zari Taylor has provided unprecedented service and leadership to the Department and University, by serving as the first Graduate Representative on the Department’s Committee for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. This past year, the DEI Committee began an Anti-Racism Curriculum Initiative, and Zari’s contributions were invaluable, informed by both her experiences teaching undergraduate courses and as a student in graduate courses. Zari is also the coordinator for the Graduate Race Workshop, where she has organized events for students across disciplines who are interested in studying race. Her service and leadership this year have not gone unrecognized, as she’s been elected President of the Department’s Graduate Student Association for next year. We are truly excited to be working with Zari in this new role where she is sure to continue her outstanding service and leadership to the department.
Codey Bills by Michael Palm
Codey Bills has done the Department’s faculty and current and future graduate students a great service: for the past couple years, working with two Graduate Student Services Specialists (first Abbey Mitchum and now Jill Mazure Crews), he has reviewed the Department’s Handbook for the PhD Program and edited it for clarity and accuracy. The Handbook is a vital resource for both PhD students and faculty, and we thank Codey, Abbey, and Jill for their work on it.
Sherrill Pence Award
Winner: Amrut Mishra by Kumi Silva
In addition to his research, which is at the intersection of fabrics, fashion, performance, and colonial power, Amrut also is deeply committed to community engagement and education in the arts. This is reflected not only in the ways that he frames his research, but also in the ways he envisions the translation of his intellectual work into community settings including, most recently, during his time as a Publicly Active Graduate Education (PAGE) Fellow for the Imagining America consortium and a Carolina Performing Arts Public Engagement Fellow. I am always struck by Amrut’s ability to hold the complexities of identity, systemic inequalities and structures of power in unique and nuanced ways that were incredibly generative for his interlocutors. Much of this comes from his own unique position as a second-generation Indian American, growing up in the US south, and taking seriously what those identities mean to his own ethical and intellectual commitments. It is perhaps these commitments that make Amrut deeply invested in decolonizing knowledge and knowledge production and drives his desire to share his work with a broader audience—especially as forms of knowledge, resistance, and liberation.Amrut has a strong work ethic, a generous and thoughtful disposition, and a genuine commitment to social change, especially through the arts—characteristics that were most recently recognized by the Ackland Art Museum who awarded Amrut a much coveted and competitive Graduate Internship for Fall 2021. Amurt exemplifies the commitments of this award, not only through his research, but also through ongoing commitments to public facing work across the University.
Jelena Stojakovic and Melody van Lidth de jeude Award
Winners: Carolin Sukamp and Jing Jiang by Carolin Sudkamp and Jing Jiang respectively
During her time at UNC, Jing has been one of the most collegial, helpful, and supportive graduate students in the department. For her own cohort, she organized repeated get-togethers to celebrate milestones and foster friendships. This gave students space where they could share their challenges and successes. On several occasions, Jing invited some friends and colleagues to share food and stories so that we could learn more about the Chinese culture and celebrate with her and her family. Her actions and kindness have enhanced the graduate student culture tremendously. Jing is truly committed to building community and enacts this in numerous ways. She is an attentive listener and asks thoughtful questions. She shares articles, events, or conferences that she believes are helpful for her colleagues. And even through hardship, like the pandemic and financial insecurity, Jing never loses her hope and positivity. In fact, it is so contagious that others cannot help but also believe that things will turn out OK eventually. In the past months, Jing and I have been working consistently together to finish our dissertation. She was a tremendous support, and our daily writing sessions have been instrumental for me to meet my deadlines. I can think of no one else who would be more deserving of an award that honors collegiality and enhancing graduate student culture in our department.
The friendship between Carolin and me has demonstrated collegiality in the graduate program in the past five years. Our friendship overcomes differences in seniority, nationality, language, age, and geographical distance.
When we had achievements, we could hear each other’s congratulations. Carolin was very considerable when picking gifts to congratulate my daughter’s birth. She picked fresh flowers, a nice notebook, and a lovely karate pig doll (I practice karate, and my daughter was born in the Year of Pig). I was fortunate to record my blessing video and attend Carolin’s wedding remotely last year.
When we faced difficulties, we stood by each other’s side. We have been in close touch with each other since we heard about UNC’s employment restrictions on graduate students overseas. We sent each other comforting messages and exchanged important updates during our employment crisis. Moreover, we worked as each other’s accountability partner and motivated each other to finish our dissertation. This year, we worked together via Zoom for three hours a day, five days a week, for a couple of months. Carolin’s company played an indispensable role in the completion of my dissertation.
Our friendship has been nurtured by the overall collegial atmosphere in the department. Each of the episodes described above was not just dyadic interactions between two of us but reflects routine group events in our program to bond together and support each other. I was nominating us in the hope of seeing such collegiality continue in the graduate community.
Jim Barry Production Scholarship
Winners: Audrey Ladele and Allison Chastain by Julia Haslett
Audrey Ladele is a promising emerging filmmaker who has taken numerous classes in the media production unit. These include the first year Seminar, “Make a Zine,” and courses in Narrative, Sound, and Documentary production. In all her work, she demonstrates an eagerness to experiment and to push the cinematic form. Her most recent film about a gallery owner in Charlotte incorporated stunning visuals and a reflexive approach that highlighted the complexity of her subject. We are excited to see Audrey continue to develop her creative voice in the coming year.
Allison Chastain took her first media production class, Environmental Filmmaking, during the pandemic when all classes were virtual. In that course, she made a series of films culminating in a personal documentary about land conservation efforts in her hometown of Murphy, NC. Profiling a local non-profit organization, Allison wove in her family’s deep ties to this mountainous region and the much longer history of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians who have lived there for millennia. With a keen cinematic eye and powerful narrative voice, she is poised to keep making great films.
Rick Dees Award
Winners: Jacob Hines, Grant Lafferty, Zoe Hambley, Caleb Schmidt, Elle Baker, Matthew Keith, Jacqueline Reilly, Michael Sparks, and Nathaniel Consing by Kristin Hondros
Nathaniel Consing, Grant Lafferty, and Zoe Hambley.
In our third semester of the global pandemic, these dedicated filmmakers persevered through production obstacles and safety limitations of space and casting, to create wonderful short films. Their films are personal, warm, funny, and poignant. These short descriptions cannot begin to reflect all they have accomplished.
Ellen Baker wrote and directed a short film about a lonely, young witch who provides her magic to fellow college students, but is unsuccessful at connecting with anyone. That is until a bright-eyed new visitor finds her. Nash Consing’s documentary explores the idea of home and belonging in a portrait of a talented young musician and his identity within the Hmong community in Hickory, North Carolina. Zoe Hambley’s personal documentary explores her love for hiking on the Appalachian Trail and in the mountains of New Mexico. Jacob Hines wrote and directed a short film about a mediocre actor whose frustrations propel him into bold action, with rather unfortunate consequences. Matthew Keith directed and starred in a poignant and funny short film about a high school boy reeling from the loss of his mother and finding catharsis in a pair of roller skates. Grant Lafferty wrote and directed a sophisticated exploration of a grieving man on the day of his wife’s funeral that combines humor and pathos. A young woman with an obsession faces off with a wily detective in Jackie Reilly’s short thriller about a missing young woman. Caleb Schmidt’s dramatic short film riffs on the gangster film genre and Mafioso tropes in a story of brotherhood and betrayal.
And finally, Michael Sparks takes us to space in his elegant sci-fi short about a woman on an abandoned space station with no one but a robot for companionship.
Congratulations to all!
Outstanding Achievement in Interpersonal and Organizational Communication Award
Winner: Kristen Brown by Steve May
The faculty members in the Interpersonal and Organizational Communication concentration are proud to nominate Kristen Brown as this year’s recipient of the award for Outstanding Achievement in Interpersonal and Organizational Communication. Kristen is a senior Communication major, with a minor in Hispanic. She has a 3.99 GPA, overall, and 4.0 in her Communication courses. In the classroom, she has exhibited excellent oral and written communication skills, keen analytical insights, and a strong, ethical orientation to the role that communication plays in our interpersonal and organizational lives. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and has been on the Dean’s list every semester at Carolina. She has also served as the Vice-President of Lambda Pi Eta, the discipline’s Communication honorary society. For the last four years, Kristen has actively created programming for vulnerable children in pediatric hospitals, first with The Superhero Project and then later with A Moment of Magic Foundation. An articulate and accomplished author, Kristen has written and edited articles for fan magazines. She also recently published the third book in her series of superhero novels (The White Dove 2016, The Gladiator 2017, The Hunt for Elemental, 2021) for young adults, which explore topics of heroism and forgiveness
John and Tatiana Moore Internship Award
Winners: Kamiran Waddell, Brandon Bent, Sam Miller, and Olivia DeRienzo
Kamiran, Brandon, Sam, and Olivia will all be heading to Los Angeles as part of our Hollywood Internship Program. The John and Tatiana Moore Internship Award Fund assists in off-setting the costs of travel and living expenses in a major metropolitan area. Congrats to these four talented individuals!
Outstanding Achievement in Performance Studies Award
Winner: Zach Eanes by Tony Perucci
Zach is one of the most amazing students I’ve had the pleasure to teach in years — too bad that it’s been entirely during this remote year. In my COMM 464 class in the fall, he created original works through video that were stunning and insightful — almost making me glad to be doing this work only in this form. His critical writing in my classes is equally outstanding — rigorous and risk-taking. He’s really working at the graduate level, so much so that I allowed him to join my grad seminar this semester, where he has acquitted himself brilliantly. I can’t recommend him highly enough!
Michael Piller Excellence in Screenwriting Award
Winner: Annie Warn by Dana Coen
The 2021 Michael Piller Excellence in Screenwriting Award goes to an outstanding senior from the Writing for the Screen and Stage Minor, Annie Warn. Annie embodies the word “Excellence” in the award’s title. For the past two years she has proven herself to be an excellent student, contributor, volunteer and writer. Her play was picked for the program’s annual Long Shorts Festival. Her short screenplay was chosen to be filmed for the program’s debut production launch, and she was amongst those accepted into the Hollywood Internship Summer program. Now consider that not only did she accomplish this during a global pandemic…but she never stopped smiling! Her other writing instructors feel similarly. Professor Stephen Neigher writes….“Besides being an immensely likeable person, Annie evolved into a professional quality writer during my two classes with her. Her writing is smart and nuanced with always a clever twist. She’s well deserving of this award.” And from Professor Michael Acosta…. “Based on the gravity of this award, we can all appreciate how talented and skilled Annie is as a writer. I believe the sky is the limit for her professionally. What has also struck me so deeply about Annie is her unflappable positive attitude. Being positive is a soft skill we often forget about. She is kind and a pleasure to be around, which will also contribute to her success.I wish her fair winds and following seas.” Congratulations, Annie! Well deserved. -Dana Coen, Director, UNC Writing for the Screen and Stage Program
Outstanding Achievement in Rhetorical Studies
Winners: Catherine Bowen and Sydney Pope written by David Monje and Eric Watts Respectively
I’d like to honor Catherine Bowen with the Outstanding Achievement in Rhetorical Studies Award. She just defended her honors thesis, “Creating the Conspiratorial Mindset: Trump’s tweets and the immigration crisis of summer 2019”. Catherine worked diligently and produced excellent work under extraordinary conditions, and is now moving onto University of Georgia, Athens to start her MA in rhetoric. As her chair, I could not be prouder of Catherine’s accomplishments.
When I first heard the nomination of Sydney Pope for this award, I immediately and enthusiastically endorsed it. Ms. Pope was a student in COMM 170, Rhetoric and Public Issues. From the outset, it was clear that she possessed an intellectually curious and intellectually penetrating mind. She demonstrated critical power and creativity through an insightful analysis of the acceptance speech delivered by Meryl Streep at the 30th Golden Globes award show in 2017. Her analysis artfully disclosed Streep’s attunement to how appeals to ethos and pathos function. And again, her discussion of various metaphorical capacities were invented in a series of GEICO insurance ads illustrated her worthiness for this distinction.
Outstanding Achievement in Service and Leadership
Winner: Barbara Blaschke by Kristin Hondros
As the President of Lambda Pi Eta, Barbara Blaschke has brought her considerable energy and talent to lead the UNC Chapter of the National Communications Association Honor Society. She has developed and coordinated events that facilitate conversations between students and faculty recruited underclassmen, and actively collaborated with staff and faculty as a student spokesperson for the Department. Always is willing to be of service, Barbara represents the undergraduate experience in Communication at New Student Days, Meet Your Major Zoom sessions, and whenever and wherever we need a student representative. The Undergraduate Studies Committee and Department administration and the students in the Department have greatly benefited from her leadership. We are thrilled to recognize Barbara with the Outstanding Achievement in Service and Leadership award and congratulate Barbara for all she has accomplished at UNC.
Triangle Advertising Federation Scholarship
Winners: Aaliyah Farris and Jake Moskovitz by Bill Brown