Graduate Program Inaugural Class Changing the Conversation At Home and Abroad

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Like the many trailblazing undergraduates who have explored unfamiliar places on our study abroad programs, the School of Modern Languages is embarking on their own journey into a new world: graduate education.

This year the School welcomed 21 new Master of Science students to the Swann building to launch the inaugural M.S. Applied Language and Intercultural Studies and M.S. in Global Media and Cultures programs, offered in collaboration with the School of Literature, Media, and Communication.

The inaugural class of the graduate program boasts an amazing diversity of backgrounds and interests. From applied math to documentary film-making, from radio production to business, the 21 students bring unique and multi-faceted perspectives that will transform our classrooms and the future of our programs.

Our students are combining many academic backgrounds -- from Computer Science to Business to International Affairs -- with the humanities skills they learn in our program, so they can “change the conversation” within their respective fields.  Their areas of focus  include economic development in Eastern Europe, smart technologies for Asian markets, coverage of climate change and refugees, mental health resources for employers, and a variety of others.  In this article, we wanted to highlight some of our students and how they apply language and culture to the interconnected world in the 21st century. 

Neta Kanny is a student of the M.S. in Applied Languages and Intercultural Studies with a concentration in Spanish. This summer, she will be the sole Political Intern at the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá, Colombia.

To prepare for her internship work, Neta is spending this semester researching the Venezuelan migrant crisis in Columbia, as well as the relations between the Colombian government and the FARC, a leftist guerilla group in Colombia. Her research will examine how the relationship between the Colombian government and the FARC is affected by the recent disruption of the peace accords and reinstatement of arms by the FARC. 

She highlights, “during my time in the program, I have developed skills in the media- and technical application of Spanish, something that I was not able to experience in undergrad.” In a course on documentary film in Fall semester, Neta researched the representation of Latin America on Netflix. Her work focuses on Narcos and One Day at a Time to show the different ways that Latin Americans are portrayed in our media.  Her research also dove into the Cuban Cyber-Activism movement. 

Through the program, Neta has worked with faculty, staff and fellow students in both the MS-ALIS and MS-GMC programs as a Graduate Assistant in the Culture at Work program, through which she initiated a professional communications writing lab for non-native English students. She says that faculty’s interest in the students’ research and futures has given her a strong sense of community within the STEM-driven environment of Georgia Tech.

“When walking into the Swann building,” she says, “you feel like you have a place and a home to talk about language, communications, and the things that interest you.”

Another student interning this Summer with a position in the State Department is Leighton Rowell.  She is pursuing the M.S. in Global Media and Cultures with a concentration in French.  She will be interning in the Political Section of the Guinea-Bissau Liaison Office at the U.S. Embassy in Dakar, Senegal.  Leighton’s work at the embassy will leverage her knowledge of both French and Portuguese. Leighton says that coming from a background in journalism, she is looking forward to pursuing “what I most enjoy about journalism–research, writing, serving a community–while working in a diplomatic and international development setting.” 

Leighton’s coursework this semester focuses on West Africa, and in preparation for the internship, Leighton is compiling a literature review of existing scholarship and reporting on the state of the media in Guinea-Bissau and Senegal.  Her courses will explore Afrofuturism, climate change, and sustainability in the Francophone world.  Her past coursework in the program has also given her a theoretical foundation in the fields of media studies and cultural studies, covering themes such as sustainability, migration, and surveillance.

Currently, Leighton is also working as an intern with the Democracy Program at the Carter Center in Atlanta.  In this role, she is analyzing the election process throughout French-speaking Africa, analyzing media and reports about political transition, and monitoring the growing influence of technology and social media on elections.  Leighton will further develop her skills in media analysis, data analysis, translation, and communications during this internship. 

Before joining the inaugural cohort, Campbell Beadles was a business student here at Georgia Tech with minors in Spanish and German and a certificate in Russian.  He is now pursuing the M.S. in Global Media and Cultures program with a concentration in Russian.  “I never planned to take language at Georgia Tech,” said Campbell, “but it was so accessible that I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity. The summer study abroad programs made it easy to immerse myself and very quickly become conversational in the language.”

Now as a graduate student, Campbell’s research focuses on contemporary Russian media.  In the Fall he researched the portrayal of the Crimean referendum in Russian mainstream and opposition media, which included analyses of speeches given by Russian politicians.  This Spring, he is conducting research on the “Immortal Regiment” in Russia through an independent study with Russian faculty and hopes to pursue a career in research on U.S.- Russia relations, Russian current affairs, and Russian media. 

Campbell also holds a position in the program and has been working as the Coordinator of Operations since Fall 2018. This role has provided the opportunity to combine his undergraduate business training and current humanities training to help transform the School of Modern Languages.  He has worked on market research, recruitment logistics, and communications. 

Shaidah Herron also has worked as a graduate research assistant during her graduate studies and is spearheading innovative programs on campus well-being.  She is pursuing the M.S. in Global Media and Cultures with a concentration in French and works as a graduate research assistant for the Global at Home program, which is a partnership between Modern Languages and Residential Life. In her role, she is promoting mental wellness among students and coordinating the annual Global Media Festival.

This Fall semester, Shaidah invited her peers to question the stigmas and institutional structures in place surrounding mental health. She spearheaded "Sustainability  and Mental Health," a 3-part film series that explored new ideologies that can change how our world sees mental health and allow us to build more sustainable systems for health care and mental health.

Shaidah has always been interested in mental health and the anxieties and misconceptions that often go along with the term "mental illness.” She argues that words such as "illness" create an “extreme rhetoric”, and doesn’t differentiate the severe and non-severe cases. Shaidah wants to start changing the conversation by creating better human-to-human connections. For her, improvement on the rhetoric around mental health can be quite simple; it starts with “interactions with those around us," with "recognizing struggles and hard times for others," "patience [and] listening."

As a Global at Home coordinator, Shaidah has also led hands-on mental wellness events around campus. One of her projects included free massages for students during finals season. Shaidah's MS project will build on these interests, developing a course module that can integrate mental health into the curriculum, which she hopes to make accessible internationally. This summer, Shaidah plans on developing a course module in French and English for mental health professionals.

For more information on our 1-year master's programs, please visit our website.


  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created By: esnelling3
  • Created: 03/03/2020
  • Modified By: esnelling3
  • Modified: 03/05/2020


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