Communication Studies Doctoral Student Gary Beck

Gary BeckAs an undergraduate at the University of Rhode Island, the idea of graduate school was foreign and strange: Who are these people? Why even bother getting a graduate degree? Four years wasn't enough? I was lucky enough to eventually happen upon a professor during my senior year who encouraged and advised me through such questions and curiosities. While I am indebted to him for his time and faith in my ability to do well, I often wonder how much more prepared or how much clearer that decision to enroll might have been if I hadn't been intimidated by these graduate students and instead actually had a chance with them to figure it all out.

Two years into coursework for my MA in Communication Studies, I discovered that my passion for people, helping others deal with personal issues or conflicts, and a desire to know or have answers to my curiosities could be channeled into a rewarding and fulfilling career in higher education. I am currently working toward becoming a Communication Studies Professor. Questions of what will I become or can I find a job that Ill be happy doing that tormented myself and my parents as an undergraduate were replaced with a sense of relief that I believe I found from a multitude of places: friends and family, classmates, advisors, part-time dead-end jobs that could have become full-time dead-end jobs, self-discovery, and perhaps most importantly, making mistakes and having the courage to get back up and learn from them.

The IE Pre-graduate mentorship is a great opportunity to start to figure out that what can I become question, and perhaps experience that great sense of relief earlier than I ever did. As an undergraduate working with a graduate student or faculty member, you have an opportunity for one-on-one time. I've had interns work with me interested in the dating and relationship topics that I focus my research on, but also I have a student working with me now who is interested in eventually teaching at a university. From the feedback I receive, I know that you not only get something out of discussing whatever academic issue you choose to focus on, but you'll also learn a bit about the person you are working with and those three curiosities that started this all for me: Who this person is, why they bothered to get a graduate degree, and why four years simply wasn't enough. You might just see a bit of yourself in the answers.