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How Communication Scholars Think and Act

A Lifespan Perspective


Julien C. Mirivel

Every great scholar begins as a student. But what does it take to get there? And what is the journey like? This book explores the lifespan development of some of the best-known communication scholars in the United States. Grounded in 30 in-depth interviews, personal stories, and communication theory, the book reveals the nature of human development, the curvature of disciplinary thinking, and the values that drive communication professionals. With powerful examples from great thinkers and teachers such as Robert Craig, Valerie Manusov, and Gerry Philipsen, the book shows that communicating well is a slow, gradual awakening toward others. How Communication Scholars Think and Act is designed to inspire students and faculty alike to persevere in the face of setbacks, to learn about communication more deeply, and to improve human relationships across contexts. This is an ideal text for courses in communication theory, interpersonal communication, and introductory courses to the field. It is a must-read for anyone who wants to become a communication professional.

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Chapter 3. How Do Communication Professors Grow?


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My student Sayra comes into my office. She has been working diligently on a project for 9 months. In a couple weeks, she will deliver a 25-minute presentation in front of faculty, alumni, and friends of the department. Capstone Day, as we call it, is a unique experience for students. In the fall, all seniors write a 25-page research paper. In the spring, they must present it effectively. If they do not meet the time frame, they fail the presentation and therefore do not graduate. This is a pressure-packed day, but Sayra wrote a beautiful research paper and has been practicing day in and day out. In her last practice, I had nothing left to recommend. It was simply excellent. Yet, she comes into my office, bursting with anxious energy. “What if I fail?” “I can’t take it,” “I still have so much to do,” her voice cracks. I ask her to sit with me, but she says “no” at first. As we talk a little more, the negative energy dissipates. I invite her to sit again. I want to make my message clear. “Sayra,” I say with all seriousness and a direct gaze,

you’ve worked hard, you have excelled in every practice, this is the moment you’ve been waiting for. You are graduating and you will succeed. Now is not the time to doubt yourself. Instead, enjoy every moment of your success. You...

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