September 30, 2012
While Felicia Harris’s four-year-old son was off to preschool in mid-August, Felicia was off to school, too. She began her doctoral program in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, where she earned a master’s degree in health and medical journalism just this past spring.
Ph.D. in journalism and mass communication
University highlights, achievements and awards:
The highlight of my graduate career was finding a niche for my reporting interests. I was introduced to the health and medical journalism program in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and received excellent training on how to cover issues such as access to health care, the business behind the health industry and health disparities. Last fall, I received travel assistance from the Association of Health Care Journalists to attend a conference in San Francisco, Ca., where I was able to reconnect with award-winning reporter Lance Williams of California Watch to receive additional tips, guidance and other tidbits for my budding reporting career. Williams was a speaker at Grady during the McGill Symposium, where I served as a 2011 McGill Fellow for Journalistic Courage—another highlight of my time here. It was a great opportunity to have intimate time with amazing, courageous journalists from all over the nation.
My graduate assistantship this year was a highlight in itself, as I was able to successfully develop and launch a growing social network for University Housing. My position was brand new, so the fact that I have been able to personally reach out to so many incoming residents and students, while driving excitement around social media in my department has not only been fun, but exciting as well.
Outside of academics, I have been extremely involved in Graduate and Professional Scholars (GAPS), a graduate organization for underrepresented students at UGA. Last year, I served on the executive board and was able to see our organization achieve wonderful things. We collaborated with several organizations for professional development and service opportunities that extended beyond Athens and our typical graduate student body. For example, we were able to take a group of our members and pharmacy school students to Greene County this year—one of the richest and poorest counties in Georgia—and devote an entire day to some of the county’s most underserved youth. I am so proud to say that I played a role in so many of our awesome achievements.
Carver High School
Doctoral intern for new media at University Housing and freelance health reporter
Family Ties to UGA:
I am the first in my family to obtain a UGA degree, but not the only one who bleeds red and black—my entire family represents the Bulldog Nation.
I chose to attend UGA because...
Grady offers an extremely competitive graduate program and is still within driving distance from my family. The moment I arrived for a visit, I fell in love with the campus and faculty and knew I would be at home.
My favorite things to do on campus are...
walk over from Grady to Jittery Joe’s or Tate for a study break. I went to a small, quiet institution for undergrad, so the constant activity on our campus always serves as a quick pick-me-up.
When I have free time, I like...
to read for pleasure. As an English major and now doctoral student, I get to read a lot of great material, but most of it is assigned. Whenever I have the opportunity to pick up a book that is not on a syllabus, I feel like a rebel. I especially love revisiting my favorite children’s classics with my son.
The craziest thing I've done is...
spend a weekend in a cheap hotel in Paris, France alone. I was studying abroad in Oxford, England, and the city was too close for me not to take a visit. On my first day there, I took a stroll and got lost for about an hour before finding myself at the front steps of the Moulin Rouge.
My favorite place to study is...
when they’re available, in a booth by Jittery Joe’s in the Miller Learning Center late at night. While writing my thesis last semester, the 2 a.m. closing time served as a deadline to get my work done for the night before heading home. I also love being in the company of so many other students who are working just as diligently.
My favorite professor is...
I can honestly say that I can’t choose just one. My entire thesis committee—Elli Roushanzamir, Pat Thomas and Peggy Kreshel—were all extremely influential in guiding my research and shaping my career goals, along with several other incredible faculty members.
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with...
Michelle Obama. She’s an exemplar of intelligence, determination, strength, grace and several other characteristics that I strive to develop in myself daily. And by the way she danced in front of the nation for “Let’s Move!” I think we’d also just have a good time.
If I knew I could not fail, I would...
enact Universal Health Care in the U.S. During the past two years as a health reporter, I’ve spent a lot of time in free clinics talking to patients who don’t have access to affordable health care. Many of them are homeless, but a lot of them are individuals who have lost a job recently or work just under the minimum requirements for a benefits package. Even as a graduate student, I have personally been set back hundreds of dollars after a dentist visit and struggled with the worries of how to pay for my medical care, especially when all I wanted was to feel better. I think a lot of people don’t realize how important adequate health care is until they’re the ones in the emergency room without a way to foot the bill, and by then, it’s too late.
If money was not a consideration, I would love to...
take my family around the world on a yacht. As much as I love formal education, I am a firm believer that nothing can teach us as much as life experiences. The world has so much to offer, and every time I visit a new city, I come home feeling as though I’ve learned so much. I would love to be able to give those experiences to the rest of my family (especially those afraid to fly). As for the yacht, that’s just an added bonus for style.
After graduation, I plan to...
spend as much time as possible with my son.
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be...
taking my son to have dinner with Mary Frances Early the evening before she was the keynote at the annual MLK Freedom Breakfast. Ms. Early is the first African-American graduate of UGA and truly an inspiration for my graduate studies here. The dinner was my first time meeting her in person after reading about her, Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Hamilton Holmes during the 50th anniversary celebration of desegregation at UGA. It was truly an honor to sit around a table with Ms. Early and other administrators, along with my son and some of her family members, and celebrate the progress of the university, as well as hope for the progress yet to come.