Before I begin, I think it is appropriate to introduce myself. My name is Tess Hyre and I double-majored in Communication & New Media as well as Recreation & Leisure with a concentration in Sports Communication. As a double major, it was imperative to have my capstone completed in the Fall of 2016 due to requirements I had to meet in the Recreation & Leisure Department. However, I did not foresee that my capstone project would eventually carry on throughout my entire senior year.
You’re probably asking yourself, well how in the world did her capstone carry on through the Spring 2017 semester as well? That is actually a great question that I’ll answer right now. I had always had a passion to understand why females in sports, not just athletes but also sports reporters, were treated unfairly compared to their male counterparts. I selected Professor Monica Larson to be my capstone director, and when I suggested my idea of doing a research study to uncover the truth on why females and males are treated predominately differently in the sports industry she immediately jumped on board. It was also a great way to combine both my majors. As Monica and I met throughout the semester, she suggested that I reach out to one of the researchers from a study I had used in my research paper. At first I was very timid, but to my surprise Dr. Steve Chen responded back to an email I sent and quickly became a co-author to my research study.
Collaborating with Dr. Chen and building on his research, I conducted my own study survey that was emailed to students at a university in the Appalachian Region that followed the guidelines of the Institutional Research Board (IRB.) If you are unfamiliar with the IRB, it is a committee that reviews the survey tools and the overall survey that will be distributed throughout any university to ensure the safety of the students participating in the survey, the creator of the survey, and the university where it is distributed. (It is a rather lengthy process and I advise anyone who is wanting to conduct a research study to get the IRB approval sooner rather than later.)
Publishing my Research
It was all so fascinating to me, not just reaching out to Dr. Steve Chen for guidance and assistance and conducting a full survey study, but also to submit my work to an international conference that has annual summits featuring topics similar to my own. Yes, you read that right; my work was accepted by an international conference, The International Association of Sport and Communication, where I presented my research just two weeks ago in Phoenix, Arizona.I would have never, in my wildest dreams, imagined presenting this study to anyone, much less an international conference. But thanks to Monica, she pushed me to submit my study because she believed in me when I, at first, did not. As it turned out, I was the only undergrad student to present (scary!) at a conference filled with professors from universities such as, Clemson University, Texas A&M, Florida State University, etc. When I introduced myself as an undergrad everyone was shocked. I contemplated if I should actually tell the audience that bit of information, but at the end of the day I knew that if I didn’t reveal my student status I would regret it. It was a good thing that I did because the other presenters in the room began tweeting about my research study and praising my ability to stand-up in a room full of professors who have been doing this for years.
The conference was definitely a rewarding experience, but funny enough my capstone still lives on. Just this past week, I received word that Sparks, Shepherd University’s online scholarly journal publication, will be publishing my research.
In conclusion, my advice for future Capstone students in the Communication Department is to not give up. You can reach for the stars and really achieve anything you set your mind to with your capstone. If your capstone carries on for a full year, great! Great things can come out of it and I honestly wouldn’t have done it without the assistance of Monica. So pick a capstone advisor that you feel comfortable with, who will push you, and who will support you in YOUR capstone project. The sky is the limit and I believe I am a true testament to that throughout all that I have accomplished this year.
With that said, good luck future Capstone students and have fun!