Student scholars to present at regional conference

Eight students will be presenting at the Eastern Communication Association's James C. McCroskey and Virginia P. Richmond Undergraduate Scholars Conference in Boston, MA.

Penn State Schuylkill will be represented this year by eight students at the Eastern Communication Association's James C. McCroskey and Virginia P. Richmond Undergraduate Scholars Conference, March 29 - April 2 in Boston, MA.

The students' submitted research papers were completed as part of their requirements of the campus honors program, either in an honors communication course, an honors option of a communication course, or an honors independent study. Valerie Schrader, Ph.D., associate professor of communications and co-coordinator of the Penn State Schuylkill Honors program, assisted the students in preparing their submissions for acceptance.

"The conference was especially competitive this year, with 165 total submissions. In previous years, the average rate of acceptance has been 40-50 percent. All submissions are blind reviewed by scholars in the communication discipline, and only quality scholarship is accepted for presentation at the conference.

Two students had their papers selected for the Top Paper Panel, Joshua Bachert and Julia Schuller, placing as two of the five top-ranked papers out of all 165 submissions. Julia also took honors as receiving the award for Overall Top Paper at the conference. She will be honored at the conference for this major accomplishment. She is the first Penn State student from any Penn State campus to achieve this.

Julia Schuller, a senior corporate communication major, is excited about the many doors that are being opened through this experience, "I am so honored to have received the top paper award at the conference," said Schuller. "It’s a great way for me to exemplify my skills in writing and research, meet scholars in my field, and learn more about graduate school opportunities."  

An additional exceptional achievement went to Alexis Collins, a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism, for having two papers accepted. This rendered her the first Penn State Schuylkill student to have accomplished this achievement at the ECA-USC Conference.

For a couple of the students, although communications is not their major, they feel this experience will help them excel professionally. "Having the opportunity to submit to a conference, even though it's out of my major, is a really great experience just for the practice of writing and editing an academic piece," said Heather Bradley, planetary science and astronomy major. "I'm very excited to have been accepted to do a presentation, as this will be my first major presentation, and I want to use this opportunity to learn and grow in my public speaking skills for the future."

For some of the students, this will be their first time presenting, while others have had prior experiences. Joshua Bachert, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering, presented at 2015 Pennsylvania Communication Association Conference, but this will be his first regional conference. "After having a great experience with presenting at the state level, I wanted to take it a step further and share another paper at the regional level," said Bachert. "Also, the experience I gain through this writing process and conference presentation will help develop the skills I need to complete both my current honors' courses and eventual graduate thesis."

The Eastern Communication Association was established in 1910 and is the oldest professional communication association in the United States. The undergraduate scholars conference has been in existence since 2011 and features some of the best undergraduate communication scholarship in the northeastern region of the United States.

The students and their accepted papers are:

(you can click on the individual students for biographical information)

Joshua Bachert
“Journey On:” Relational Dialectics, Rhetorical Criticism, and the Musical Ragtime

Brenna Baker
Freedom from Injustice, Freedom to Resist: A Rhetorical Analysis of Scapegoating and Social Constructionism as Illustrated through Harry Potter’s Sirius Black

Heather Bradley
“We Can Never Go Back to Before:” A Rhetorical Analysis of Cognitive Dissonance in Mother and Father’s Relationship in Ragtime

Alexis Collins
“Make America Great Again:” Hegemony in The Purge: Election Year; and
Riding on the “Wheels of a Dream:” Cognitive Dissonance and Narrative Theory in the Musical Ragtime

Claire Freeman
“Hello, I’m a Mac.” “And I’m a P.C.”: Rhetorical Analysis of Identification of the “Get a Mac” Campaign

Brett Kimsel
The Face of Politics: A Rhetorical Analysis of Facework in the 2016 New Hampshire Democratic Primary Debate

Catherine Mahon
Socially Constructing Clinton’s and Trump’s Americas through Social Media: A Rhetorical Analysis of the 2016 Presidential Candidates’ Facebook Pages

Julia Schuller
Broadcasting the Backstage: Essena O'Neill’s Facework as an Instagram Model

For more information about the Eastern Communication Association, the James C. McCroskey and Virginia P. Richmond Undergraduate Scholars Conference, or the Penn State Schuylkill Honors program, please contact Valerie Schrader, associate professor of communications, at vls146@psu.edu.