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
"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
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