SJMC Grad Students Got Seoul

SJMC graduate students, Nikole Smith and June Leal, presented their research in South Korea this past spring semester

Nikole Smith and June Leal are more than just the typical Texas State SJMC graduate students; these two jet-setters can now claim to be international scholars specializing in Korean popular culture. Nikole and June were able to merge their love for traveling and scholarship by collaborating on a research project, titled #OppaNoticeMe: The Influence of and Idol Instagram Account on Sasaeng Behavior, and presenting their research in Seoul, South Korea this past semester.

The Seoul International Conference on Social Sciences and Management held its third annual conference in February, which was a fitting choice for these two Texas State grad students when considering where to present their project. Nikole and June began working on this research endeavor in Dr. Rao’s International Communication course nearly one year ago and continued to work closely with Dr. Rao as they added the final touches to their submission. Their research focuses on the correlation between K-Pop, or Korean pop music, idols’ Instagram pages and saesang (fan) behavior.

“As a fan of K-Pop since 2005, I always hear stories about these saesangs’ behaviors and it just blew my mind at the lengths they would go to get these idols’ attentions,” said June.

The two hope that this will provide an understanding on how idols influence fan behavior, a topic that is scarcely covered in Korean popular culture research.

Smith and Leal are no strangers to traveling abroad, both having traveled to South Korea in the past, which ended up being a great excuse to travel once again.

“I honestly never thought that doing a project over K-Pop idols and saesangs would get me back to Korea. It’s one thing to present in front of your classes, but to present in front of other people in your field from all over the world is another level,” said June.

Not only were the duo able to present their research in the homeland of K-Pop, their research was noteworthy enough to secure publication in the International Journal of Communication and Media Studies.

“I would have never imagined that this project would have actually gotten us to Korea, let alone get published,” said Nikole.

These two SJMC grad students can proudly boast that their unique research article can be found in the April 2017 edition of IJCMS, a goal of nearly every grad student of the discipline.

As far as tips for traveling during your academic career, Nikole and June recommend aligning research undertakings with a topic and location that you are passionate about. Once you figure out your passion, the rest will fall into place. “Take the chance and do it! You never know where your research will take you are what things will happen when you travel. You can learn new concepts and meet interesting people, plus new opportunities may be presented in the future,” agreed Nikole and June.

If not on the campus of Texas State, these two can be found sipping on a South Korean favorite, bubble tea at the local San Marcos shop, Kung Fu Tea. As any SJMC grad student or instructor who has had the fortune of having Nikole and June in class know, these two live and breathe their research interests. Have a question about anything K-Pop or idol influences? Stop by and visit our resident experts for some invaluable knowledge about international research. You won’t be disappointed!

Check out these photos from their adventures in South Korea for your daily dose of jealousy!

 

Featured Student Friday – Dorian Parks

Dorian Parks is a Digital Media Innovation student at Texas State University

You may have seen this SJMC student wandering the halls of Old Main throughout the semester, or perhaps sitting beside you in class. Or just maybe you have checked out the website Geeks of Color to peruse the latest coverage of the ‘geek’ world. Well, this summer, Dorian Parks has traded the hills of San Marcos for Los Angeles and the halls of Old Main for the entertainment giant, STARZ.

The Television Academy Foundation’s Internship Program provides 50 undergraduate and graduate students with internships in various media production fields. According to their website, host companies include ABC, CBS, HBO, Disney, NBC, and Warner Bros., to name a few. Needless to say, this eight-week program is beyond competitive and Dorian has proven his expertise and passion for digital media by obtaining this position.

Dorian has been preparing for an opportunity like this throughout his education as a Digital MediaInnovation major at Texas State University. Staying true to his mass communication frame of mind, Dorian recognizes that our communication is evolving every day.

“Digital media is the new way that we ingest information and I want to be a part of that digital revolution,” said Dorian in his video interview securing him the internship. The interview, produced and recorded by the creative extraordinaire himself, provides a look into the vast imagination that Dorian uses to fuel his enthusiasm for making and distributing his original content.

While at Texas State, Dorian commits his time to the website he founded called Geeks of Color, a blog-type feed that covers current news on all things ‘geek’ and promotes inclusion and diversity in the vast world of entertainment. Reviews, podcasts, gaming, and guest contributions can all be found within this impressive digital creation, demonstrating Dorian’s passion for media and communication. Not only does Dorian care about the infinite world of comics and popular culture, but his desire to bridge the gap of race and the entertainment industry is inspiring.

“I am so excited for this internship, I can’t wait to see what opportunities it leads to,” said Dorian.

The internship is scheduled to be starting this summer and we share Dorian’s excitement as we eagerly wait to see where this position takes him in the future. In the meantime, the folks in San Marcos can stay up to date on all things Dorian and geek on his website and social media platforms.

YouTube
Twitter
Instagram

Check out what Dorian is up to next; this SJMC student does not fail to impress!

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And the Award Goes to…

Each year a selection committee comprised of faculty and students comb through applications for instructors at Texas State deserving of honorary mention. One of the most prestigious awards, presented by President Trauth, is fittingly coined the ‘Presidential Award’ and can be awarded for outstanding performance in teaching, scholarship, or service.

Two of the SJMC’s very own instructors have been awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching: Senior Lecturer, Dale Blasingame, and Assistant Professor, Ms. Jennifer L. Buschhorn. These awards are among the highest honors that an instructor can receive and are meant to encourage high standards among our faculty and staff across the entire Texas State campus. Both Blasingame and Buschhorn have demonstrated superior scholastic achievement in their fields and excellence in their teaching.

President Trauth will present both honorees with their awards at the University Convocation and Annual General Faculty meeting this August. Join us in congratulating our SJMC honorees!

Featured Work Friday: Kambiz Shabankare

The SJMC’s own photojournalism course instructed by Anna Mazurek has produced some remarkable content! Photojournalism student, Kambiz Shabankare, created this incredible feature story on the Battleship Texas BB-35 and San Jacinto Historic Site volunteer, Charles Smith. Check out his photos and story below!

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Charles Smith: Fighting on Behalf of the History

Charles Smith, while carrying two boxes, walked toward a bench near the Texas Capitol building in Austin, Texas. The bench has been his spot every Saturday for the last four years. Smith opened the boxes one by one. He took out, from the first one, a model of the Battleship Texas BB-35 made of wood and from the other one several books and some DVDs. He placed each of them on the bench in an exact order, like every single object owned a particular area.

“I don’t want to be so close to the Capitol,” Smith said while placing the objects, “I don’t want to disturb the visitors who come to see the building, but this spot is perfect.” His spot is neither too close nor too far. Smith usually stands next to this bench, approaches visitors who are passing by and shares his knowledge of the battleship with them.

“It started 30 years ago. That was the first time I saw the battleship,” Smith said. He was 24 when saw the Battleship Texas BB-35 for the first time. On Aug. 31, 1983, the battleship transferred to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and was placed in Todd Shipyard in Galveston, Texas.

“She fought both first and second world wars,” Smith said, “I had read about her since I was a child, but it’s different when you are touching her beautiful body and walking on her deck.” The first meeting turned into a life changing event for Smith.

On April 30, 1948, few years after the end of the second world war, the battleship retired and became the first battleship, in the U.S history, presented as a memorial museum. The days of retirements seemed to be easy at the beginning. People remembered the battleship and her remarkable achievements during the war. The battleship’s presence in several battles like Iwo Jima and Battle of Cherbourg was not something that the Americans could easily forget. However, as time passed her heroic actions turned into the distant and forgotten memories. In 1956, she was commissioned as the flagship of the Texas Navy and was transferred to the Battleship Texas Commission, where her bravery turned into a nightmare.

“I am wondering if they hated her so much, they left her to die,” Smith said while his eyes were filled with a spark of anger. The commission’s negligent act against the battleship resulted in cracks and gaps in coated surfaces, water intrusion and steel deterioration.

“They knowingly destroyed her,” Smith continues, “they could have done some proper maintenance, but instead they used improper colors and materials. On one occasion, they painted the wall on the captain’s cabin and destroyed a historical world map on the wall.”

“I paid 20 dollars every week for the past two months, now I have it,” Charles Smith said while opening the box of the Wonder Woman action figure. The Comic Relief is one of few places that Smith spends time outside of his job and his passion for the battleship.

Finally, in 1983, Texas State Legislature decided to step in and assigned the battleship to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), and by Aug. 31, 1983, TPWD had the sole guardianship of the Battleship Texas BB-35. “It was a happy day,” Smith said, “She was, finally, going to be with the people who cared about her.” TPWD hired some engineers to repair the battleship. The maintenance took five years. In 1988, the Battleship Texas BB-35 began her final journey to Houston. “The problem was people could not accurately remember her anymore,” Smith alleged, “Somebody had to do something, I mean I had to do something.”

Smith always has been a lonely boy. His childhood memories are filled with being bullied by his brother and by his classmates. “I didn’t have a real friend. I was mostly hanging out with my brother’s friends. They were way older than me,” Smith said. In high school, he fell in love with history. “I was alone during the breaks, so I would go somewhere and read a historical book.” Smith added, “there was no one to protect me, not even my parents.”

Lack of protection and absence of a savior has always been Smith’s concern. Therefore, from Smith’s perspective, the Texas Commission’s negligent is comparable to what he experienced as a little boy.

In 1996, Smith, who was working in Austin mostly in seasonal jobs decided to move back to San Marcos, where he was born and grow up. “I ran away from Austin,” Smith continued while laughing, “My sister-in-law was tried to hook me up with some of her friends. I need my freedom.” He already owned a trailer, so it was a total freedom comparing to his experience of living with his married brother. He was free after all and more isolated this time.

Before moving back to San Marcos Smith realized that reintroducing the story of the Battleship Texas BB-35 to Texans has become the only mission he desired to focus on. “They don’t teach the real history in universities,” Smith emphasized, “She represents some of the most crucial events in the history of the world.” Smith’s first presentation, at the Wake the Dead Coffee House, was a total disaster. “I had my video books and my model of the battleship ready,” Smith said, “there were only a few people and I knew all of them.” After showing the video, when people started to ask questions, Smith suddenly froze. “At that moment I understood, love is not always enough,” Smith smiled and continued, “love without knowledge is incomplete.”

Charles Smith lives in an old trailer in Martindale, Texas near San Marcos. “I have everything I need,” Smith said. Alongside his passion for the battleship and a job that pays his bills, Smith feels there is nothing more he can wish for. “I don’t have a girlfriend or wife and my trailer is big enough for my books,” Smith said.

Smith spent the next two years learning every detail about the Battleship Texas BB-35, WWII, WWI and the history of America’s naval battles from 1914 to 1950. In 2010, He did his second presentation this time at the Grin’s Restaurant. “30 people were staring at me,” Smith said. Two years chasing and collecting the knowledge had paid off. “I was on fire,” Smith added, “there was no question that I couldn’t answer.”

On April 22, 2017, Smith has become an official volunteer at TPWD to represent the Battleship Texas BB-35. “No one is paying me to do it, but still is an honor,” Smith said while was collecting his belongings and putting them back into the boxes. Then he walked toward the horizon and disappeared like a lonely cowboy.