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Celebrating the end of the NYU at Weber Shandwick Masters in Residence program

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NYU at WS cohort 1 on campus

Cohort 1 (right to left): Lauren Hom, Aisha Becker-Burrowes, Marcha Johnson, Gabriella Le

We are celebrating the end of the NYU at Weber Shandwick Masters in Residence program with a message of gratitude to our partners at Weber Shandwick, the support of NYU Steinhardt, the Media, Culture, and Communication (MCC) department, and our phenomenal students - now alumni. The program, a partnership between Steinhardt's MCC department and Weber Shandwick - a leading global communications and engagement firm, commenced in fall 2017. In total, the program hosted 12 scholars over the course of four years, where each student pursued a two-year graduate degree at MCC. Alongside coursework, studying away at NYU's global sites, and writing a Master's Thesis, scholars participated in a rigorous hands-on cycle of long-term learning, mentoring and coaching, working across Weber Shandwick’s content, client, integrated media and insights teams to learn from and advance the firm’s expertise in media change and engage with clients across sectors and specialties.

NYU at WS cohort on campus

Cohort 2 (right to left): Hina Wilkerson, Soumya Misra, Destiny Lopez, Leslie Stevens

Each cohort, consisting of four scholars, put theory from their coursework to practice at Weber Shandwick's NY office where they work throughout the duration of the program. The first two cohorts participated in a global work experience, at the Weber Shandwick Berlin office while utilizing NYU's global network and meeting with MCC faculty abroad at the NYU Berlin campus. The third cohort navigated their time in the program during the height of COVID-19, and while travel was halted they worked remotely with the Weber Shandwick DC Office allowing them to experience another organizational work culture. 

NYU at WS cohort 3 at Weber Shandwick office

Cohort 3 (right to left): Leonard Santos, Lorena Kanzki, Elli Garcia, James Barbosa

The program was focused on increasing the number of technology-engaged, globally-savvy, diverse, future professionals in the media and communications industry and by the impressive thesis research these scholars conducted, they accomplished just that. Some thesis topics include: 

  • Elli Garcia, MA 2021 - Researcher, Data Analyst, and recent graduate: "Negotiating power and visibility online: Erasing the queer erotic being from the platform economy." This research illuminates the bias content moderation policies of social platforms, especially in its application of community guidelines on sex-positive content creators in the digital sphere. 
  • Soumya Misra, MA 2020 - Distinguished Thesis winner: "Calling it 'Blackdance': 30 Years of Black Women’s Films at the Sundance Film Festival." The research discusses ways in which black female filmmakers empower black women by presenting images of black femaleness that are multifaceted, nuanced, and in direct opposition to the stereotypical and harmful imagery of black womanhood upheld historically by Hollywood and mainstream entertainment.
  • Hina Wilkerson, MA 2020 - Barbara Haum Thesis winner: "The Husband Did it: How Podcasting is creating a Feminist True Crime Genre." This thesis bridges the gap between media representation and criminal justice, using true crime as a platform to discuss inequality.
  • Marcha Johnson, MA 2019 - Researcher, Creator, and Marker: "Soft Spot-  Kind Tech." Soft Spot, an AI powered, physical chair developed to calm you, give you words of affirmation, and be a companion. At its core, it is a speculative object that gives the capacity for technology to be caring where otherwise the assumed labour would be unpaid.

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