Graduate School

WRTC graduate student Mackenzie Kelley talks about Why JMU?


SUMMARY: Passion makes you want to do everything, so the challenge is to find balance, focus, and manage your resources to invest in one thing and do it really well. It's definitely a lot of work, but it won't be overwhelming if it's connected to your passion. Passion keeps you going.

Mackenzie Kelley – WRTC

Mackenzie Kelley, a second-year graduate student in the Writing, Rhetoric, and Technical Communication (WRTC) program, discovered JMU on her way to visit her sister in Lynchburg. On a whim, she pulled off the highway to explore the campus, and immediately fell in love with the beautiful surroundings and community feel of students gathering in common spaces on the crisp fall day. In choosing a program, Mackenzie knew she wanted something related to communication and writing, but an English degree didn’t interest her. For her undergraduate studies, she chose the School of Media Arts and Design and WRTC. Now for her graduate studies, she says the WRTC program is a perfect fit.

After taking Dr. Susan Ghiaciuc’s class on disability rhetoric during her first semester, Mackenzie knew she’d found her passion. Since then, her studies and research interests continue to focus on health and medical discourse, in particular disability narratives in media as well as rhetoric surrounding controversial substances like anabolic-androgenic steroids. Her passion is to raise awareness and give voice to vulnerable and discriminated populations. Her graduate assistantship at the Health Center complements her interests, giving her the opportunity to work with a team of undergraduate graphic design students to develop health campaigns for the university.

Mackenzie’s practical experience at the Health Center combined with the academic theory and research she learns in her studies are preparing her for a career in the health communication field once she graduates. WRTC Graduate Program Director, Michael Klein, explained,

WRTC prides itself on educating and training its graduate students to excel in communication and professionalism. Mackenzie has surpassed my expectations in all facets of her work in the program, and I value the time I have gotten to know and work with her. She will admirably represent the program as an alumna when she graduates in May.

— Michael Klein, WRTC Graduate Program Director

In the meantime, she continues to build her repertoire of professional skills through activities like presenting at a conference. She recently presented a research project titled Disabled Bodies at Work at the University of Texas at Arlington Graduate English Conference where the topic was sports and disability with the theme Bodies at Work.

According to Mackenzie, one of the most rewarding aspects of attending the conference, in addition to sharing her work, was the opportunity to share a meal with other presenters and learn more about their research and the passion that fuels it. Mackenzie described the way she was inspired by her peers, saying, “Our generation is doing great things!” The conference provided a venue for meeting incredible people and broadening her understanding of the field.

Similarly, her program offers a rich environment for cultivating meaningful connections with professors and peers. Being surrounded by people who are passionate about the same thing energizes Mackenzie and sparks robust conversations with faculty and classmates. It is this passion that drives Mackenzie and makes all the work worthwhile. Mackenzie explained why engaging her passion is so important in graduate school:

Passion makes you want to do everything, so the challenge is to find balance, focus, and manage your resources to invest in one thing and do it really well. It’s definitely a lot of work, but it won’t be overwhelming if it’s connected to your passion. Passion keeps you going.

— Mackenzie Kelley

Getting ready to graduate in May, Mackenzie is proud of her work, proud of her conference presentation, and proud of the way she has grown personally and professionally during her time at JMU. She credits her advisor, Susan Ghiaciuc, and the WRTC Graduate Program Director, Michael Klein, for advocating for her, opening doors of opportunity, and investing in her by sharing their knowledge and passion. From the beautiful campus and amazing faculty to the graduate assistantship and resources for graduate students, JMU really has been the right place for Mackenzie.

Published: Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Last Updated: Wednesday, March 1, 2017

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