Admissions Ambassadors

Graduate students in the Department of Communication come from a variety of backgrounds and pursue diverse research agendas.  The profiles below provide a sense of the scholarly interests and recent achievements of the students in our program.  Each student on this page serves as ambassador for the Department of Communication and is willing to answer questions. Feel free to email these students with any questions you might have about the UM Department of Communication graduate program.

Divine Narkotey Aboagye is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Rhetoric & Political Culture area in the Department of Communication. Divine completed his M.S. in Communication from Illinois State University and his B.A. in Communication (minor in Philosophy) from the University of Cape Coast, Ghana. He also earned a Graduate Certificate in International Development Studies from Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario – Canada through the Trent-in-Ghana program. Divine’s research explores the intersections of presidential rhetoric, U.S. foreign policy, international law, war and chemical weapons, controversy and social movements, race & politics, the rhetoric of science, and the rhetoric of development and underdevelopment. Divine’s work mostly engages rhetorical theory, cultural studies, and critical theory (continental philosophy, Marxism & Neo-Marxism). His master’s thesis examined U.S. rhetorical opposition to international treaties and negotiation of its hegemonic authority in the world, with a focus on the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court. Moreover, Divine studies issues in instructional communication and communication pedagogy. While he identifies primarily as a rhetorical scholar, he is also comfortable with qualitative and quantitative approaches to communication research. At UMD, Divine teaches COMM 107: Oral Communication—Principles and Practices. He also received Top Paper Awards from the Central States Communication Association. For prospective students, Divine is very happy to respond to your inquiries about UMD’s Ph.D. Communication program and the University of Maryland, College Park.

Email: dnaboag1@umd.edu

Delight J. Agboada is a first-year Ph.D. student in Public Relations and Strategic Communication track. She earned her M.A in Communication and Development Studies from Ohio University. Before coming to the United States, Delight received her M.Phil. in Communication and Media Studies (Business Communication) and B.A. Ghanaian Language (Ewe) Education both from the University of Education, Winneba-Ghana. Delight’s research interests stem from an intersection of health, communication, development, media, and gender. Specifically, she explores the ways through which media can be used to improve the health and wellbeing of rural settlers. Delight teaches COMM 107 (Oral Communication) at the University of Maryland.

Email: dagboada@umd.edu

Drew Ashby-King is a second-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Communication on the Public Relations & Strategic Communication track. He earned his B.A. in Communication from Bowling Green State University and his M.S. in College Student Personnel from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Drew researches communication in higher education contexts from instructional and organizational communication perspectives. Specifically, he is interested in exploring topics related to critical communication pedagogy, the influence of societal and institutional discourses on students’ classroom and campus experiences, and student-university relationships. Drew recently published an article in Qualitative Research Reports in Communication and has a forthcoming article in the Journal of Communication Pedagogy. Drew is currently serving as a Teaching Assistant for COMM 304: Communication Research Literacy at the University of Maryland. Advisor: Dr. Lindsey Anderson.

Email: dashbyk@umd.edu

Darrian Carroll is a third-year Ph.D. student at the University of Maryland. Darrian is on the Rhetoric and Political Culture track at Maryland. He graduated from the University of Nevada Las Vegas with a M.A. in Communication Studies and from the University of North Texas with a B.A. in Political Science. His work focuses on race, rhetoric and the political economy. Darrian is slated to receive a top student paper award from the African American Communication and Culture Division at this years National Communication Association conference. Darrian has also recently published in the Journal of Information Communication Ethics and Society. Advisor: Dr. Shawn Parry-Giles

Email: dcarrol5@umd.edu

Max Erdemandi is pursuing a Ph.D. in Communication with a specialization in Communication Science and Social Cognition. Max holds an M.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies from Duke University, and a B.A. in American and Cultural Studies from Hacettepe University. His research focuses on quantitative explorations of intercultural contact through public diplomacy and cultural/educational exchange. He's interested in exploring the spatiotemporal variances in cognitive and social dynamics that emerge as a result of immersive exposure to other cultures - including identity transformation, in/out-group conflict; dis/misinformation in religious, sociocultural, and political domains of knowledge; and the emergence and propagation of radical/extreme influences, narratives, relationships, and ideologies. Max is a first generation college student and a former UMD professional track faculty. Advisor: Dr. Nick Joyce.

Email: maxerd31@umd.edu

Aya Farhat is a third-year Ph.D. student in Rhetoric and Political Culture. She earned both her B.A. as a University Scholar in 2016 and her M.A. in Communication from Baylor University in 2018. At Baylor, Aya was awarded a Graduate Fellowship in Interdisciplinary Rhetorical Studies where she gained experience teaching courses in rhetoric and feminism in the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core. Aya’s research interests include U.S. abortion law and policy and the rhetoric of expertise. At UMD, Aya has served as a TA for COMM 250: Introduction to Communication Inquiry and has taught COMM 324: Communication and Gender and COMM 107: Oral Communication: Principles and Practices. She is currently teaching COMM 200: Critical Thinking and Speaking. In her free time, Aya enjoys practicing yoga, cooking up new recipes, and spending time with her lovely husband and their two kitties and one very old pup. Aya is happy to chat about the program, research, teaching, moving, and general work-life balance concerns. Advisor: Dr. Shawn Parry-Giles.

Email: afarhat@umd.edu

Taylor Hourigan is a second-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Communication at the University of Maryland. She specializes in Rhetoric and Political Culture. Taylor earned her B.A. in Communication Studies from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, where she was a member of the CSU Center for Public Deliberation and CSU Marching Band. Her research interests revolve around political protest and activism, specifically as carried out by young and minor-aged activists. Taylor is interested in the ways in which power, age, gender, and race intersect in the discourse of and about these activists. Her paper, “A Teenager Working on Her Anger Management Problem”: Infantile Citizenship, Containment Rhetorics, and the Twitter Bio Resistance of Greta Thunberg was recently selected as a top paper in the Feminist and Gender Studies division at the National Communication Association’s 2020 digital convention. Taylor is excited to talk to interested students, and could offer specific insight to students who are considering entering the program with their Bachelor’s degree, or students who would be making a big move to the east coast. Advisor: Dr. Shawn Parry-Giles.

Email: hourigan@umd.edu

Meg Itoh is a second-year Ph.D. student at the University of Maryland. Meg is on the Rhetoric and Political Culture track at Maryland. She graduated from The College of Wooster with a B.A. in Communication Studies and Chinese. Meg's work takes a critical focus on transnational and transcultural rhetoric, race, and notions of space, place, and mobility. These research interests are fueled by her own nationality and multicultural identity. Meg is a national of Tokyo, Japan where she was born and raised before moving to the U.S. for college and now graduate school. She's currently a TA for COMM 401: Interpreting Strategic Discourse and has previously taught COMM 107. She'd love to answer questions but would be especially happy to offer guidance on navigating graduate school and academia as an international student! Advisor: Dr. Carly Woods

Email: mitoh@umd.edu

Victoria Ledford is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Communication Science and Social Cognition track. She received both her B.A. and M.A. in Communication Studies from Marshall University. Victoria’s interests are in health communication, and her primary research centers on understanding the antecedents and effects of stigma on behavioral health outcomes. She studies stigma and communication with the aim of creating less-stigmatizing and more inclusive health communication messages for marginalized groups. She has studied a variety of health topics, including Opioid Use Disorders, HPV, Autism Spectrum Disorders, e-cigarettes, and nutrition and exercise.  She’d love to answer any of your questions, but would be especially happy to provide guidance on the transition from a small town to a big city and her experience navigating the academic world as a first-generation college student. As a former debater, she also remains very involved in the world of competitive forensics and loves meeting new forensics folks. Advisor: Dr. Xiaoli Nan.

Email: vledford@umd.edu

Victoria McDermott is a first-year PhD student in the Public Relations & Strategic Communication track. She completed her B.A. at Coastal Carolina University in Public Relations with a minor in Marketing in 2016. Victoria completed her Master’s in Professional Communication at the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 2019. Her research interests explore the communication of power in traditionally masculine environments, specifically within STEM and the military. She also researches teaching pedagogy for the online realm. Victoria currently teaches COMM 107 at the University of Maryland. Advisor: Dr. Lindsey Anderson.

Email: vmcdermo@umd.edu

Fielding Montgomery is a second-year Communication Ph.D. student in Rhetoric & Political Culture at the University of Maryland. He is currently the editorial assistant for Feminist Studies. Fielding received his M.A. in Communication at Baylor University, where he was the editorial assistant for Rhetoric & Public Affairs. He also received his University Scholars B.A. with concentrations in Communication and Political Science at Baylor. Fielding's research primarily focuses on the intersection of political rhetoric and popular culture. He has published in these areas in a number of academic journals, including the Journal of Popular Film & TelevisionRhetoric & Public Affairs, and the International Political Science Review. In particular, his articles have covered presidential advertising, horror framing, political messaging in popular film, freedom of the press, and government corruption. Fielding is currently a COMM 230 instructor, and has taught COMM 107 and COMM 250 in the past. In his free time, Fielding has a passion for movies, video and board games, and college athletics. He works a side gig as a paid blogger for Baylor's SBNation website. Fielding is happy to answer any questions prospective students might have! Advisor: Dr. Shawn Parry-Giles.

Email: fmontgom@umd.edu

Brooke Phipps is a second-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Communication in the Rhetoric and Political Culture track. She earned her B.A. at Wheaton College (IL) and her M.A. at Colorado State University. Her research interests center around digital rhetorics, mobilizing online communities, and platform politics. Her thesis addressed consciousness raising and digital platforms for the 2017 Women's March movement. Additionally, Brooke teaches COMM 324: Communication and Gender. She is the GA for the Graduate Program during the 2020-2021 year and is pleased to talk to any interested students, whether it is about scholarly interests, adjusting to graduate school life, teaching, or finding the best/cheapest places to eat in the D.C. area. Advisor: Dr. Damien Pfister.

Email: ebphipps@umd.edu

Jiawen Zhang is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Communication with an emphasis on Communication Science & Social Cognition. She graduated from Penn State University with a master’s degree in higher education (student affairs) and a bachelor’s degree in media studies (media effects). Her research interest is health communication in the context of higher education. Specifically, she is interested in examining the impact of social media on well-being among college students, including but not limited to, how it influences students’ stress management intentions, what the psychological impact of ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) videos are on young adults, and what kind of social media content may help graduate students improve their mental health awareness, etc. Jiawen is currently teaching COMM 107 at the University of Maryland. During her free time, she loves playing the piano and swimming. 

Email: jzhang52@umd.edu