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College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Media, Film & Journalism Studies

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Feature Story

MFJS Students on to MA, PhD Programs

Every year, students enrolled in our four BA and two MA programs graduate and go on to amazing things. By nature of the program, most of our students choose to take a professional path immediately after graduating, going on to careers in a range of media, film, and communication fields. However, we also have a stalwart community of students – undergraduate and graduate – who look forward to continuing their educational journey after their time at DU.

This spring we are featuring three almost-graduates who will be going on to prominent universities across the US this fall to earn Master's degrees or PhDs in their chosen fields of study. As a department we are so proud of their accomplishments and the accomplishments of their fellow graduates, and cannot wait to see where life takes them.

Madeleine White, BA Media Studies and BA Political Science

Headshot of Madeleine WhiteQ: Why did you choose DU for your BA?
A: I was initially attracted to DU because of the diverse curriculum offered to undergraduate students. It is hard to know exactly what you want to do as an 18 year old just finishing high school. One thing I liked about DU was the ability for undergrads to take a wide range of courses in different fields to fulfil some basic core requirements before declaring a major, which really helped me find my place at the University. My first year I took everything from the History of Rock n' Roll to Intro into Political Theory, both of which I would recommend to incoming freshmen.

The quarter system was another reason I was first interested in DU. Being on the quarter system allows you to take way more classes than would be possible on the semester system, and it makes it far easier to double major or graduate with multiple minors. On top of that, I was extremely impressed by DU's faculty and staff. Like any incoming freshman, I was anxious about making the transition into higher education. The freshman advisors were so kind and responsive when it came to answering any questions I had prior to accepting my offer to DU. Once I decided I was going to attend, my advisors were helpful in guiding me through my first registration process, which is something a lot of large Universities do not necessarily offer. All of these things, along with the renowned faculty, were crucial in my decision to attend DU. I also thought it was really awesome that DU hosted the 2012 presidential debates! Great publicity.

Q: Did you know when you started the program that you wanted to go on to an MA?
A: Yes, I knew after my first class in the MFJS department that I wanted to go on and get my BA. I originally started as a Strategic Communications major because I knew I wanted to work in communications but wasn't sure which major in the department was most fitting. After taking several journalism and more theory-based media classes, I decided to change my major to Media Studies because it allowed me to take a wider range of classes within the department.

While I could go on and on about why I enjoyed my experience in MFJS, I will try to narrow it down to some key points. One thing that's great about MFJS is the curriculum offered through the department. I was able to explore so many different topics within the field of media, which included taking courses that overlapped with other majors in the department like Film Criticism and Newswriting and Reporting. As a double major in Media and Political Science, I am fascinated by the intersections of media, society, and politics. MFJS offers stimulating courses that cover all of these things, while also challenging students to develop their own frameworks on the function of politics and media in modern society. I have also always been a huge film buff, so it was awesome to be able to take film classes to fill my elective requirements. I valued the sense of community I felt in the MFJS building as well. It was inspiring to be surrounded by students with diverse backgrounds who all share a common interests. This exposure helped me grow as an academic but also on a more personal level.

Lastly, the MFJS professors played a major role in my decision to pursue a degree in the department. I was so wildly impressed by every professor that I had the privilege of taking and knew that each of them was dedicated to helping me succeed.

Q: Where will you be going?
A: I will be attending NYU's Media, Culture and Communications graduate program starting in September.

Q: What will be your focus of study?
A: This program at NYU offers five areas of research on the intersections of media, culture and communications. Students are asked to explore one or two of these areas as their primary focus throughout the program. The two that I am most interested in are Visual Culture and Cultural Studies and Media Institutions and Politics.

Q: Talk a little bit about what drew you to that particular field of study
A: For as long as I can remember, I have been an avid media consumer: whether it's political news, reality TV, or the year's best film, I can't get enough. My time at DU allowed me to explore my passions and develop a more theoretical understanding of how media functions in modern society. I think that I am drawn to these areas of research because they allow me to continue my studies on the intersections of media, culture, and politics. I have always been fascinated by the politics embedded in contemporary visual practices and their cultural and social implications. The Visual Culture and Cultural Studies courses focus on how visual practices work to produce culture and how they relate to the performance of political power. I am also drawn to the Media Institutions and Politics classes as they examine the role of political strategy and mass media in influencing public opinion. These are topics that I spent my undergraduate career studying and I hope that attending graduate school at NYU will allow to develop my own frameworks on contemporary media practices within the context of the larger academic conversation.

Q: What do you hope to do after this degree?
A: After this degree, my dream is to work in media production for a large network like NBC or HBO. I used to want to work in political news media, but my interests have shifted more towards entertainment media. On the other hand, I could also see myself deciding to continue my academic career to ultimately get my PhD and possibly become a professor. We will see!


Sarah Leiser (left) and Madison Snider standing under a tree near the MFJS building