Graduate Student Highlights Attending and Presenting at The Western States Communication Association Conference 2020
I came in with nothing but the clothes on my back (and the clothes in my backpack). I left with something a bit less tangible and a lot more comforting. What that is I'm actually not sure, so please don't ask me to elaborate. I consider myself incredibly lucky - being a first-timer and a member of two panels (Futures of/in Performance Studies and the Embodied Performance Response) is something that I'll be eternally grateful for (shout out to Pablo Ramirez and Suzanne Pullen for the lob). I mean who wouldn't be, performing alongside such distinguished scholars pushing the activistic boundaries of Performance Studies? That said, my experience was not bereft of regret. See, mixed haphazardly between the dazzling chaos of poetry, analysis, and dialogue lay the appalling order of missed opportunities, awkward run-ins, and "sir, there's only 5 minutes left in the panel, please wrap it up." My time at WSCA, like my time in Communication, was/is like rooming with Failure and Success. You learn how to clean up after yourself and bask in the feeling of getting through it all. Now who says a learning experience can't be a win in and of itself? See y'all next year.
Through the opportunity that was granted to me through the Provost Award, I was fortunate enough to go to WSCA and learn from my peers and mentors about our field and discipline. It is always exciting and enlightening to see the absolute best minds in Communication Studies, show up and present the newest research and theories. I was fortunate enough to be accepted to present some of my own work at this conference and the experience was one that has shaped the work I am doing and also the way I feel about myself and my peers. Through the work that inspires me I was able to make connections with other scholars in the field and I cannot wait to apply again and continue having a voice in these conversations that we are having as a discipline.
Western States Communication Association (WSCA) is a place to be recognized, appreciated, and inspired for contributions in communication studies research. I did not get an opportunity to present my work, but I attended WSCA for the first time to support my San Francisco State University colleagues. My goal was looking to create relationships with as many people and programs as I could. However, I felt it was going to be tough behind the pressure that the conference is a professional gathering. I am a firm believer that authenticity attracts authenticity; therefore, I wasn’t going to let my belief falter in the way I interacted. I strive for community above all else. Having an appreciation for the known and upcoming scholars, I soon felt WSCA was a space for community and a space for relationship building. Every person and panel I interacted with was full of warmth and motivation. I was privileged to be around scholars that shared the same enthusiasm and challenges for graduate school. All in all, the sense of community is the reason for my attendance at WSCA and I was greeted with much more than I expected. The people, the panels, and the sock hop created lasting memories. I thank everyone I got a chance to interact with because it was those interactions that made my weekend meaningful.
Attending WSCA this year was my first time attending, let alone presenting at, any academic conference ever and needless to say I was nervous. I was one of the few people presenting in my cohort and I was going first on Saturday, after traveling all day on Friday. Walking into the conference that day with Oliver had me incredibly nervous as I did not know what to expect. Once I took my seat at the table in the front my mind started to race as I continued to get more and more nervous. After what seemed like an eternity, I see my friends and colleagues start to fill into the crowd. In fact, all of my cohort who attended WSCA came out to support me as well as others I knew from SFSU such as Nikki, Pablo, Dr. Abdi, and Dr. Alaoui. I received various smiles and looks of encouragement as I prepared for my presentation. Their presence alone calmed me almost immediately and allowed me to deliver the best presentation I could muster. For that I am extremely grateful for all of the support that I received from my colleagues. This really set the tone for me the entire weekend as I not only attended various panels to support and learn about other’s projects within the department, but I also found the strength to meet and attend panels from scholars outside the department as well. I met various graduate students and professors who shared similar excitement as me in topics that I love. I was able to converse on various topics such as the politics of video games and have conversations with profound scholars such as Dr. LeMaster. It was a space that truly allowed me to explore the various sections of scholarship that I am not always able to fully dive into. Overall this experience is something that I will remember for a very long time and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity, thanks to the Provost Award, to not only attend but to be supported by those around me as well.
Though I had gone to a few conferences before, my time at WSCA was both unique and inspiring due to the amount of welcome, respect, and comradery I found in the panelists and people that invited me into their spaces as I took in what they had to share. I was able to enjoy quite a few panels where I was able to connect and hear the voices of others, who had similar experiences to me and could guide me through the ins and outs of academia and higher education. Some of the more impactful moments for me were the opportunities to hear from women I have, personally, looked up to (like Dr. Alaoui, Dr. Lawless, and Dr. Abdi) as well as learn from other people that I had not been able to work with closely but hope to in the future. From performance studies and their almost other-worldly spaces they are able to transform, to hearing about mentorship and dedication to pedagogy, you take in so much and try to find various communities that speak to you. Each conference is different, but I am excited to be able to continue them in the future.
This WSCA conference was my first experience attending a communication conference. Initially, I went to support my peers who were presenting and to attend a few panels in my spare time. I never expected to have an extreme emotional and existential experience while visiting. I was able to meet one of my favorite communication studies scholars, Benny R. LeMaster, from Arizona State University. Watching LeMaster perform was an inspiring experience that blurred the line between scholar and performer. They were freaking phenomenal! Later, Suzanne Pullen and others gave me the opportunity to be part of their performance studies panel. I worked with participants on how to agitate for justice through the act of button making, which sparked a realization within myself. An act I perceived to be so simple, in truth, was an empowering form of expression allowing others space and a place to make their own. I didn’t realize there were so many opportunities to be had at WSCA and look forward to attending next year.