With a passion for public interest communication research, over a decade of industry experience, and an eagerness for both academic and educational opportunities, Rosalynn Vasquez, Ph.D., a May 2020 graduate from the College of Media & Communication's doctoral program, brings it all together as an assistant professor of public relations at Boston University.
Born in Lima, Peru, Vasquez spent most of her life in Texas. After working in the public relations industry for 15 years, she decided to return to school and pursue a Ph.D. in Media & Communication at Texas Tech. She claims it was the best decision of her life.
“I was able to step out of my comfort zone and learn new skills, especially in terms of research methodology,” Vasquez says. “I kept an open mind as I learned both quantitative and qualitative methods, and over time I developed my research agenda.”
Vasquez feels her opportunities for research in the college provided some of her greatest experiences during the program. She studied abroad to Scotland and Northern Ireland in 2018 and served as an assistant on a qualitative media tourism research project with Rob Peaslee, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the Department of Journalism & Creative Media Industries, which resulted in a publication.
“It was amazing to experience something like that with people who are willing and excited to help you learn, to be a true mentor,” Vasquez says. “These people are the experts, and they have so many projects they are excited for you to jump on. There's no better environment to grow yourself.”
In another international venture, Vasquez served as a visiting professor at the Universidad Panamericana in Guadalajara, Mexico, where she taught a course on Hispanic public relations and media.
Back home in Lubbock, Vasquez partook in plentiful research by networking with faculty and building lasting relationships.
“I met Dr. Asheley Landrum [assistant professor in Advertising and Brand Strategy], and she focuses on science communication, which opened my eyes to that world a bit,” she says. “Then climate change communication came into the picture with everything going on in the world, and I met Dr. Katharine Hayhoe [professor in the Department of Political Science at TTU and chief scientist for The Nature Conservancy], who runs the university's Climate Center. I got to know her on a personal level, we built a good relationship, and she invited me to be part of the center, which was huge. I got to work with her on projects, brainstorm, and help with the communication.”
Vasquez believes these unique exposures to the academic world provided her numerous intellectual strengths for her new role at Boston University.
“I appreciate the balanced education that the CoMC's doctoral program provided me and the professors who mentored me along the way, such as Dr. Asheley Landrum, Dr. Rob Peaslee, and Dr. Coy Callison,” Vasquez says. “Since you're exposed to both qualitative and quantitative methods, Ph.D. students will be better equipped to address any research questions, and in the process become more well-rounded scholars.”
Although Vasquez gained important knowledge and experience from her networking, she places a huge emphasis on the warmth and sincerity of her mentors and colleagues, which was ultimately her deciding factor when choosing Texas Tech as a prospective doctoral student.
“I did my research and studied a little bit about the program,” says Vasquez, “but it wasn't until that phone call with Dr. Callison that I knew for sure. He and I had this really nice exchange—and I hope he remembers it because I certainly do—where he basically spent a good hour of his time just talking to me about the program, the benefits of the program, and listening to where I came from. He was willing to help me in any way he could, and I thought that was very reassuring.”
Vasquez will always keep her Texas Tech colleagues and faculty close to her heart, and she will always strive to make the most of the guidance and assistance offered to her.
“There are so many others I can't thank enough,” says Vasquez. “Drs. Eric Rasmussen, Harrison Gong, Shannon Bichard, and Jerod Foster. I can go on and on. There are so many people that take the time to hear you and get to know you, to see where you're coming from, and help you if you're lost and don't know where to go. I think that quality is really important in a program, to have those people that are willing to give. I'm a big believer in being able to do that for the next generation.”
As for the next generation of doctoral students, Vasquez offers a word of advice:
“It's difficult to juggle responsibilities as a graduate student, instructor, and research assistant while developing your own research agenda,” she says. “Surround yourself with mentors and champions, either inside or outside your university, who will help you and guide you on this journey. Getting a Ph.D. is no easy task. Be very clear with what you want out of that degree, and those wonderful people at Texas Tech will help you find it.”