Prize for Professional & Academic Achievement – Student Summaries

The Boston University College of Communication is proud to award monetary prizes to its graduate students to enable them to pursue an academic or professional undertaking, such as research, a current project, event, or other creative pursuit. See below for summaries of what past recipients have achieved with their prize money. *Students can only be awarded a prize once. Alumni are not eligible to receive a prize.


Laura Brown

laura brown

During the Fall 2016 semester, as a final assignment for my TV Genre and Fandom course, I wrote an outline for a paper on fans of pre-Internet era television and their utilization of the Internet to engage in their fan practices. At the encouraging of one of my professors, I worked on expanding my outline into an article-length project worthy of submission to an academic journal. Before completing this, however, I submitted my paper to the Northeast Popular/American Culture Association’s (NEPCA) fall conference. Continue reading…

Mel Medeiros


The money from the grad prize allowed me to present at two different conferences. One was right here in Boston so I was able to attend just the day of the conference. At the Eastern Communication Association Conference in Boston, I presented work that I’d done with Dr. Oppliger as a research assistant here. We’d been analyzing a TV show for its portrayals of transgender characters and foster kids. She allowed me to present the work, which was an incredible opportunity to see and participate in my first academic conference. After the presentation, I was able to get feedback that we’re now incorporating into the article we’re working on. Continue reading…



My presentation examined the instruments of social order and organizing principles of a community with no law or statute through David Milch’s seminal HBO series, Deadwood. It analyzed theories of social deviance set forth by Kai Erickson and how it comports with violence as an act of pragmatism in Deadwood. It further examined Emile Durkheim’s theories of social deviance. Continue reading…

J Graham Pearsall

  • Journalism MS ’19
  • Hiked the Via Alpina Trail in Switzerland with his father

Pearsall Professtional Project-9

My father labored under the weight of his pack as he navigated a rocky pitch in the Swiss Alps. Rain pelted his face as he tracked an air-rescue helicopter into the pass above.
Toothy peaks framed the passage through the mountains. Veins of snow crawled down from the gap and onto the trail. A cold permanent chill had breached his rain gear hours earlier.
“Lucky guy’s getting a ride off the mountain,” my father said. Continue reading…

Amy Pollard

  • International Relations & Communication MA ’19
  • Spent a week in Uganda reporting for MedTech Boston, the news outlet where she interned during summer ’17


My assignment brought me to the southwestern city of Mbarara to cover a medtech hackathon organized by Massachusetts General Hospital’s Consortium for Affordable Medical Technology (CAMTech). This year’s event was held Aug. 25-27 at the Mbarara University of Science and Technology. The focus was neonatal and maternal health. Continue reading…

Rebecca Semik


Thanks to COM’s Graduate Prize for Professional Development, I was able to attend Austin Film Festival’s Writers’ Conference, one of the premiere film festivals in the United States. Running for the last 24 years and an Academy Award Qualifying festival, AFF prides itself on showcasing the movies with the best story, not just the best production value. It’s a one-of-a-kind film festival with the world’s largest and most comprehensive screenwriters conference planned over four days (October 26—29). The festival is unlike most in its emphasis is on screenwriters and the craft of writing itself. Continue reading…

You can also check out a summary video Rebecca made about her experience here: