Today's mail contained my letter of acceptance into the Ph.D. program in Communication at FSU! I've been on pins and needles since I heard the review committee was meeting last week. I thought I had a pretty good shot, but didn't want to count my chickens, having counted many a nonexistent clucker in the past.
I'm in! Officially start in the Fall but will try to take at least one course this summer as a warmup. Here's an excerpt from my application letter that describes my current thinking about research interests:
I met with Communication Dean John Mayo back in December 2005 to discuss program options, and he recommended that I talk to members of the faculty whose interests appeared to parallel mine. Based on his (and others') recommendations and a look at the department's website, I spoke with Ulla Bunz, Davis Houck, Donna Nudd, and Andy Opel -- all of whom were most encouraging. The conversations energized me, made me feel welcomed, and helped me better conceptualize and articulate what interests me.
Two general areas seem the most compelling. Computer-mediated communication and related areas are obviously related to my professional (and avocational) interests and skills; I've been involved with online publishing and academics for over ten years, and my computing experience (interface design, CBT development) goes back even further. And I've been an active Netizen since the pre-web days of Usenet, gopher, Archie, and Veronica.
The other area is communication and social action: political rhetorics, social movements, and so on. This interested me twenty years ago when I was pursuing my M.A., and it still does today. I have to thank Andy Opel for mentioning environmental communication, because here is something very close to my heart -- which also should be apparent from my published fiction and essays.
I've been investigating the subject of environmental communication since our conversation, and have already given myself a reading list. I am especially interested in the (perhaps increasingly computer-mediated) rhetoric and discourse of competing groups regarding issues of water management, aquifer condition, and marine environmental quality in and around Florida. Dr. Opel mentioned the possibility of coordination with the FSU Dept. of Oceanography, and I'm very interested in how that plays out, as I consider myself a well-read layperson in marine biology / biological oceanography.
One rarely has the good fortune to experience epiphanies, even minor ones, but in the subject of environmental communication -- especially as I have characterized and focused it above -- I find the possibility of exploring interests and concerns that have been with me since childhood.
It will be interesting to look back on this statement in a few years and rate it for both pretentiousness and naivete!