Communication Studies (Human Relations) Pre-Grad Intern
Larrissa Roberts

Larrissa RobertsI cannot even begin to describe how wonderful the experience has been. I began this semester unsure of what I wanted to do, so I figured I would attend graduate school. It seemed like the next option for someone whom had absolutely no direction or idea of what she wanted to do after graduation. This program was a last-ditch effort to solidify my decision or start looking for another plan. I cannot be happier with my decision to do the IE program, as it clarified so much in my life. Because of the IE program, I now know exactly what I want to do (with some small decisions yet to be made). I have applied for competitive graduate schools, run my own research study, assisted on another project that Dr. Anita Vangelisti and Alexa Hampel are currently working on, and honed my time management skills, as well as pushing my personal boundaries. The most rewarding part of the semester was attending the National Communication Association annual conference.

Upon deciding to go to graduate school, my mentor and I began looking at programs that fit my needs and wants. I learned so much about the application process as well as the steps that programs go through to bring in candidates. The application process for graduate school is so different than for undergraduate programs. There is much more involved and each school has completely different requirements. Some programs require two transcripts sent one place and one to another, while other schools just want one transcript sent to admissions. Some schools require a personal statement and three letters of recommendation, while for other programs this is optional. The amount of planning that went in to applying is incredible. I had lists and spreadsheets for everything! Once I got organized, it was just a matter of putting my existing plan into action. When I saw the amount of work I was going to have to do, I was not sure that I would be able to get it all done, in addition to my existing school work. Somehow or another, I managed to get it all done and I could not be happier with the end result. I am almost completely done with my all of my applications and managed to learn a lot about my time management skills in the process.

I also undertook running my own research study this semester. I saw it through from the beginning and did data collections. Then, I worked with Dr. Vangelisti and Lexi to develop a coding scheme and coded all of the data that we collected. The study that we are running is about secrecy and revealing the secret of another for a reason deemed "good." What makes these reasons good, what are the trends for revelation, and what characteristics make a person most likely to reveal the secret of another? All of this is very relevant to new research, and I am hoping to present this paper at a convention sometime next year. I am currently finishing data entry for a project that Dr. Vangelisti and Lexi are working on. It deals with body image and communication dealing with that.

People who discuss their body image issues maintain a level of self-esteem so we are looking at what was said about their bodies and how this made them feel. Although we are not sure what will come out of this data, it appears to be very promising. There could be groundbreaking research in this data, so we will see where this takes us. This will be exciting to see this through to possible publication. I will be very honored and pleased to have worked on this project.

The National Communication Association Annual Convention was the best academic experience of my undergraduate career so far. It was because of this that my decision for graduate school was finalized. I was so enthused with all of the different panels and new research that is out there! My mentor was amused because I wanted to go to every panel that was offered. It was such a new and exciting experience for me that I loved every minute of it. It was at NCA that I knew that I was meant to be a communication scholar. I knew that it was a good fit for me to be a researcher and hopefully professor someday. I also got to talk to a bunch of graduate students and began preparing to do graduate schoolwork. Once I heard from all of them and got a good idea of what graduate school would be like, I became way more excited about the new chapter in my life. I also was able to network with faculty from the schools that I am applying to and get better feels for their programs. Overall, it was a very rewarding trip and I am looking forward to going next year to Chicago.

This semester in the IE program I learned so much about myself more than anything else. I was unsure of how successful I would be in graduate school, and this semester gave me a good idea of how I feel I would do. I was apprehensive about graduate school because I had never tried to undertake a full class load, working part time and adding research requirements to the mix. I was pleased to see that I was able to add research without sacrificing my grades, social life, and work. It was a very pleasant surprise that I could add this in without a problem arising. I was very proud for being able to accomplish as much as I managed to do.

I have recommended this program to a couple of friends and they are excited to take this class as well. I also plan on taking the independent study class in the spring and completing the research that I am working on currently. The IE program was extremely beneficial for me, and I am really looking forward to continuing my career path as a communication scholar. I am indebted to the IE program for clarifying my future plans and making everything make sense to me.