As the 2019-20 academic year begins, there are new faces to welcome to Texas Tech University. This year's cohort from the College of Media & Communication Doctoral Program is filled with well-accomplished and driven individuals from a variety of diverse backgrounds.
Daisy Milman grew up in Elk Grove, California. Her impressive background and experience landed her the most prestigious funding opportunity at Texas Tech University, the Presidential Scholarship. For her undergraduate studies, Milman attended UC Berkeley and transferred to Brigham Young University in Utah where she studied communication with an emphasis in advertising and a minor in graphic design. Milman returned to BYU to pursue a master's degree in communication. She has worked in advertising, freelanced in digital illustration, and worked as an adjunct instructor where she taught public speaking.
Her research interests focus on media and mental health by exploring which types of media contributes to optimal well-being. In her free time, Milman said she enjoys spending time with her four children and husband who is also studying at Texas Tech University.
Philippe (Phil) Chauveau is from Rio de Janeiro and moved to the United States in 2011 to pursue a bachelor's degree in sports management from Ohio Wesleyan University and a master's degree in communication from University of Cincinnati. At OWU, Chauveau played college soccer and was a member of the team when it won the NCAA National D3 Championship in 2011 and when the team reached the Final Four in 2015. His passion for sports led him to work in the sports ticketing industry where he most notably served as the ticketing manager for the Rio 2016 Olympic Committee at the Olympic Equestrian Center. In 2017, Chauveau received the Judith S. Trent Graduate Award for Outstanding Performance, a recognition of Chauveau as the top graduate student in the UC communication department.
With extensive background with the sports industry, Chauveau researched communication tensions in the NCAA regarding revenues associated with men's college basketball. He hopes to expand his research to analyze how video games and entertainment media captivates audiences. Chauveau speaks Portuguese, English, French and Spanish. In his free time, he enjoys playing basketball, soccer and video games.
Julie Grandjean is from a small village of 600 people in the south of Belgium. She earned a bachelor's degree in translation from Spanish to French and from Russian to French at the University of Mons in Belgium. As part of her studies, she was also in an exchange program in Togliatti, Russia, for a year where she taught English. Upon returning to Belgium, she earned a master's degree in international relations and multilingual communication in French, English, Russian and Spanish.
Grandjean's research interests are in visual and political communication. She said she looks forward to studying the influence of Cold War images on the U.S.-Russia relationship today. With a passion for traveling, Grandjean said she enjoys backpacking and immersing herself in different cultures.
Rachel Riggs is from De Leon, Texas, and attended Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas, for her bachelor's and master's degrees. In her undergraduate studies, Riggs graduated with two bachelor's degrees, one in English and one in communication, and graduated with a master's degree in communication studies. Riggs also worked as a full-time instructor for the Department of Communication and Mass Media at ASU where she taught public speaking.
Riggs' research interests focus on health and crisis communication. She said she enjoys evaluating health messaging campaigns directed to college students about sexual assault prevention and analyzing health messaging campaigns directed to parents about vaccine hesitancy. With a passion for helping others, Riggs served as an on-call volunteer advocate at the Open Arms Rape Crisis Center and LGBT Services in San Angelo. In her free time, she said she enjoys running, walking her dog, cooking and drinking coffee with friends.
Koji Yoshimura was born and raised in Glendale, Arizona. He earned his bachelor's degree in communication from Seattle Pacific University and received a master's degree in communication from West Virginia University. Yoshimura's main motivating factor to pursue graduate school is to have a career in teaching and mentoring. Working at WVU as a graduate teaching assistant helped him realize his aspirations to connect with students and share his enthusiasm for studying communication.
Yoshimura said he plans to continue researching the cognitive, emotional and physical effects of entertainment media. His thesis looked into this idea by examining how people's perceptions of a fictional character's morality could influence their enjoyment and appreciation of the shows and movies they appear in. In his free time, Yoshimura said he likes to play his guitar and watch films.
Austin Shurtliff is from Taylor, British Columbia, in northern Canada. He moved to the United States in 2007 and has lived in Idaho, California, Arizona and Utah. Shurtliff received a bachelor's degree in studio arts with a minor in visual communication and a master's degree in mass communication from Brigham Young University. With extensive experience in graphics, Shurtliff taught graphic design to high school and university students.
Shurtliff's research interests include understanding narratives, both the ability to persuade and influence consumers. He said he is also interested in exploring the effects media have on tweens and how people engage with visual media, such as comics. In his free time, Shurtliff said he enjoys drawing comics, playing with his four children, reading, playing board games, and spending time outdoors.
Cassie Hayes is from Waxahachie, Texas, and earned a bachelor's degree in English with a creative writing minor from the University of Texas at Arlington and earned a master's degree in creative writing from University of Central Arkansas. Hayes worked in the publication industry where she secured a job for Oxford and Sundress Publications, where she evaluated submissions, fact-checked articles, and copy-edited pieces to prepare them for publication.
With interests in film, Hayes screened short and feature-length narrative films for the Austin Film Festival. She is also a published writer. Her poetry and fiction pieces have been published online and in print by several literary journals. Hayes' research interests are in film and publication, particularly how both narratives and texts are changing in the 21st century. In her spare time, Hayes said she enjoys watching movies, reading, writing and playing her guitar.
Bethany Pitchford is a native Texan born in Lubbock, Texas, and raised in Midland, Texas. With interests in science and communication, Pitchford has a diverse education history. She received an associate's degree with a concentration in biology from Midland College. Soon after, Pitchford graduated with a bachelor's degree in technical communication and a master's degree in mass communication at Texas Tech University.
Pitchford said she strives to continue researching the intersection of creativity and mental health. Her thesis focused on the use of creative media and its ability to help people cope with mental illness and share their experiences with others. Pitchford's creative writing skills have led to publications in Harbinger, the TTU undergraduate literary magazine. She has also presented her research at the TTU Arts and Humanities Graduate Student Research Conference on analyzing the distribution of information about campus mental health resources on campus. In her spare time, Pitchford said she enjoys writing, painting, photography and yoga.
Joni Litsey was born and raised in Southern California near Los Angeles. She moved across the United States to Florida for five years before moving to Lubbock, Texas, 10 years later. Litsey earned a bachelor's degree in communication studies from California State University and earned a master's degree in risk management and insurance from Florida State University. She has worked as a claims adjuster, supervisor and most recently as a process consultant with Progressive, an insurance company. She is responsible for creating pilot and implementation plans which includes communication and training practices.
Having worked on projects with Progressive, Litsey said she is passionate about the ways people communicate with team members to achieve a common goal. She said she hopes to research how people can leverage technology to better communicate among teams, especially those that are virtual. Litsey often travels to Cleveland and frequently posts on her top 20 Cleveland foodie account on Instagram.
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