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Scotlight

Scarlett Hester, Perry-Williams postdoctoral fellow in the communications department

Sally Kershner
Features Editor

1. Where are you from and what kind of cultural background do you come from? I was born in S. Korea, but am adopted and grew up in rural Penn. I did my undergraduate work at High Point University, earned my master’s degree from Ball State University (Muncie, IN), and completed my doctoral work at the University of Memphis. So, geographically I’ve been all over the place. Memphis has easily been my favorite place that I’ve lived so far. It’s rich with cultural history from the Civil Rights Movement to blues and jazz (also Elvis, but I don’t care so much about that). The city is growing so much culturally and politically. I think my time in Memphis has shaped a lot of who I am today.

2.What book, professor or research topic changed your academic career for the better or helped you discover your passion? At Ball State, I took a course with my then-advisor, Dr. Kristen McCauliff, about the rhetoric of gender in the media. I had already been interested in this topic, but this was the course that really emphasized my interest. We read the book Disciplining Gender by John Sloop, which had a large impact on my research interests. All three — the class, Dr. McCauliff, and Sloop’s book — helped foster my interest and passion to study and teach difference in the media. Also, Dr. McCauliff is such a wonderful teacher and mentor. She was kind of my first example of what it meant to be a productive scholar and a thoughtful and engaging professor.

3. If you could spend an entire day with any person (real or fictional) who would it be and why? I’m obsessed with popular culture, so I have many answers to this question depending upon my mood. My “fun” answer is Issa Rae (creator/actor of “Insecure”). I think she is brilliant and hilarious. My more “serious” answer would be Michelle Obama because she is Michelle Obama. The woman exudes intelligence, kindness, and grace. Plus, she has some serious dance moves and great taste in music.

4. Fun fact? My random fun fact would be that I met Roxane Gay on a plane and had a Twitter conversation with her, which then resulted in her waiting for me after the flight to take a selfie. To date it’s one of the top 10 moments of my life.

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