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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

URI student is first in her class
North Scituate woman completes master's in communications

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- December 1, 2000 -- "I'm always at my best when I have a lot on my plate," says Lynda Peters of North Scituate.

Peters isn't talking about food. Rather, she's discussing her innate ability to juggle home, work, and school simultaneously.

The proof is she is the first person to graduate from the University of Rhode Island with a master's degree in communication studies. This was after she graduated summa cum laude with an undergraduate degree from URI in just three years.

While earning her bachelor's degree in applied communication, she worked full-time as an administrator in the health industry. She also had a busy family life, often shuttling around two children.

Peters entered URI's Master's of Communication Studies program before it was formalized, taking a summer class in advanced interpersonal communications before the inaugural class in the fall. "I learned communication skills dealing with ill patients," she says. "But now these skills are refined. I employ communication skills and strategies as a patient advocate in which I interact with hospital officials, insurance administrators, or lawyers in worker's compensation cases."

URI's graduate program, the only master's of communication studies in the state, celebrated its second year of existence this fall. All classes are held at the URI Alan Shawn Feinstein College of Continuing Education in Providence, which sponsors the program with URI's College of Arts and Sciences.

"The program was initiated because of an increase in demand among full-time professionals for a local graduate program in communications," says Sandra Ketrow, professor of Communication Studies and coordinator of the URI program. The program is a 30-credit "generalist" program with a flexible thesis or non-thesis option. Students can choose to specialize in media, communication training and development, or interpersonal communication.

Peters finished her thesis in unusually quick fashion, one semester and one summer session, while teaching. Her thesis is titled, "An Analysis of the Rhetoric of Wilma Mankiller." The thesis employed the neo-Aristotelian approach to evaluate the public discourse of Mankiller, first woman elected principal chief of the Cherokee Nation. Extensive research was conducted on Native American oratory in general, Cherokee oratory and the Cherokee culture. She conducted a telephone interview with Mankiller, and sent Mankiller a copy of her thesis, who responded very favorably to her work.

Peters stumbled upon Mankiller while browsing the Sweet Briar College website which offers a compilation of speeches given throughout history by outstanding women speakers. "It was a click moment. I have a long interest and association with Native Americans," says Peters who has lived in Texas and New Mexico.

"I am interested in rhetorical theory and criticism, particularly Native American oratory, as well as women's voice and the conflicts that still exist for women in public sphere versus private sphere."

"This is a bittersweet time for me," says the now former master's student. "I am honored to be a part of URI history. To have achieved this academic endeavor is very satisfying; however, the gratification was in the experience of the academic process in earning the degree, and I miss the challenge of the coursework and classroom."

Peters plans to obtain a Ph.D. and to continue to teach.

For Information: Jan Sawyer, 874-2116


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