Meet the College of Communication’s Newest Faculty Members

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the College of Communication’s Department of Mass Communication, Advertising, and Public Relations welcomed four new faculty members this semester with tremendous positive momentum. Bringing a combined 80 years’ worth of experience across the communications industry, Yi Grace Ji, Mike Proulx, Rosalynn Vasquez, and Stephanie Worrell discuss their experiences joining Boston University amid a global pandemic. 

Yi Grace Ji 
Assistant Professor | CM772 Communication Research Methods

After completing her undergraduate degree in her hometown of Hangzhou, China in 2011, Assistant Professor Yi Grace Ji moved to the United States to complete her Masters in Public Relations and Ph.D. in Communications at the University of Miami. Prior to BU, Ji taught undergraduate and graduate level courses at Virginia Commonwealth University. 

Ji’s scholarly interests primarily focus on corporate social responsibility and advocacy, entrepreneurial communication, and social media-based stakeholder engagement. Ji has been named the Page Legacy Scholar twice by the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication and her work has been published in numerous respected journals. 

What has joining Boston University during a global pandemic been like for you? 

“Even though I don’t see my colleagues in person, everyone has been super welcoming and has reached out to say hello. I’m very excited to be here. Another professor described remote teaching as playing “3-dimensional chess”, and I couldn’t think of a better analogy. I have a few students in the classroom, a few students learning remotely in Boston, and a few students with a 12-hour time difference from us in other countries. Some of these students are first year graduate students who have never been to America before so it’s important to me that I use case study examples from a variety of cultural and theoretical backgrounds.”

What advice would you give to your students? 

“As a researcher, I always tell my students to have a curious mind when exploring the world and ask questions about it. As a professor, I tell my students to always be proactive when it comes to asking those questions. I will always be available to answer them for you.” 

Mike Proulx  
Visiting Professor | CM217 Intro to Advertising, CM 708 Principles and Practices of Advertising

Professor Proulx brings more than 25 years of experience as a strategic digital marketer to his courses. His expertise spans across strategy, creative, media, and tech, having worked with some of the world’s most renowned brands and agencies throughout his career. Prior to BU, Professor Proulx worked at Hill Holiday, where he had spent the last 12 years.

A perfect confluence of his passions – creativity, emerging media, technology, and management – advertising is a career Proulx knew he wanted to pursue since he was in high school. Professor Proulx joined Boston University as a visiting professor to fulfill a new passion for teaching, a passion he plans to return to later in his career. After this semester, Proulx will join Forrester to lead the company’s CMO practice.

What has joining Boston University during a global pandemic been like for you?

“I’m new to teaching college and I’m only teaching this semester which means I don’t know what it was like to teach at BU pre-COVID. So, in a strange way, it’s kind of the perfect time to join BU because I’m not feeling like I’m having to adapt my teaching style – Instead I’ve been able to build a curriculum from the ground-up, factoring in the constraints of the pandemic and BU’s LfA model. I’ve designed my classes to be optimized for Zoom with lots of digital-first interactivity and heavy visuals. Since only a few students (at best) opt for in-person classes each week (while over 155 students are on zoom or asynchronous) I want to ensure the classes I’m teaching are, first and foremost, the most engaging virtual experience.” 

What advice would you give to your students? 

“I tell my students that currently, the advertising industry is in one of the biggest states of flux in its history – there is both uncertainty and opportunity. It’s one of the best times for students to consider a future in advertising because the industry needs to evolve and they are the best people to enact the changes the industry needs in order to stay relevant and competitive. They are the future leaders of the industry.”

Check out his CM217 Introduction video here !

Rosalynn Vasquez 
Assistant Professor | CM443 Digital Media and Public Relations

Professor Vasquez’s career spans across 15 years of corporate, non profit, and agency experience in Dallas, Texas. In her Digital Media and Public Relations class at Boston University, she brings her expertise as a sought-after practitioner to the classroom while also placing high value on students’ fresh looks at case studies and readings. 

Her scholarly research interests primarily focus on public interest communications issues in the public relations industry such as corporate social advocacy and diversity.  

As a proud, first-generation Peruvian-American, Professor Vasquez is passionate about mentoring young women and underrepresented groups to realise their potential and thrive in an industry that needs more diversity. Most recently, she was invited to a panel discussion hosted by the Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA), where she had the opportunity to share her story as a woman of color in the professional world. 

What has joining Boston University during a global pandemic been like for you?

“I’ve been very fortunate to come into a really welcoming and supportive BU family. While we can’t meet in person like normal days, I’m still very much getting to know my colleagues and students through zoom. My students have been absolutely flexible and understanding of the circumstances; there’s a real sense of bonding this semester and I’m truly inspired by everyone here.” 

What advice would you give to your students? 

“Start networking and start early. I am a big advocate for personal branding – getting a good sense of who you are will make you more in tune as to what type of opportunities you’re looking for. When you know yourself, you can be more deliberate and intentional when searching for jobs or internships. Utilise social media platforms like Twitter and reach out to thought leaders in the industry that inspire you – you’ll find that they’re actually very open to helping and talking to students. The best experiences in your learning process and careers will be out of your comfort zone, so put yourself out there!” 

Stephanie Worrell  
Professor | CM417 Fundamentals of Creative Development, CM 423 Portfolio Development

With a career spanning over 30 years, Professor Worrell brings a wealth of invaluable practical experience to the table. Worrell has worked across a variety of professional settings: from technology and healthcare startups to some of the biggest brands in the world. After working in-house, Worrell began to  miss the diverse client roster of an agency. In 2008, she founded an award-winning integrated communications agency and sold it five years later. 

At Boston University, teaching has brought Worrell a whole new level of enjoyment to what she does. She loves mentoring and interacting with the future of the industry and is passionate about providing her students with real, hands-on experiences to help them in their search for a job upon graduation. 

Professor Worrell received her undergraduate and graduate degree in Journalism from Iowa State University. 

What has joining Boston University during a global pandemic been like for you?

“While it’s been challenging, it’s given me a chance to spend more time making sure I’m really planning out creative and engaging class lesson plans for online platforms like Zoom. You can’t just be a talking head when you’ve got so many of your students learning online. You have to make sure that you’re creating an atmosphere of engagement. In these times as a professor, you also need to be able to see behind the mask of your student. There’s a lot going on in people’s lives right now so I try to be as empathetic as possible. 

What advice would you give to your students?

“I make sure that I talk to my students about how people are still hiring; I encourage them to believe they will get a job, despite being in the middle of a pandemic. There is still hope! Make sure to stay positive. The communications industry is very viable. With everyone going online, in terms of content, there’s definitely opportunity! There’s really not a better industry in the world to be in right now than communications – so don’t give up.”

Giselle Goodwin Mehta, Staff Writer

Giselle Goodwin Mehta is a junior at Boston University pursuing a degree in Public Relations. Having lived in five different countries throughout her life, Giselle aspires to build a career in the public relations and marketing industry working for companies with a global presence. Aside from writing for The COMmunicator and working with clients at Boston University’s PRLab, you can find her sipping on green teas.

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