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A creator of difference | Diversity: issues in higher education


Bryan M. Jenkins

Institution: Howard University
Graduate Program: PhD, Communication, culture and media
Education: BS & MHA, University of South Carolina
mentors: Drs. Loren Saxton-Coleman, Wei Sun and Natalie Hopkinson, Howard University

For Bryan Jenkins, pursuing his doctorate was about broadening his horizons. He earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting and his master’s degree in health administration. But working on the business side of healthcare kept him from doing the one thing he really wanted to do: positively impact marginalized communities.

So he made a “straight departure” from that path when he decided to go to Howard University. “After two years stuck in positions where I was in contact with CEOs and VPs, and being very unhappy, I got to a point where I could really sit down and re-evaluate: this is who I am. , that’s what I want to do,” says Jenkins. He sought advice from friends and family and eventually made the decision to pursue a doctorate. in media studies.

“Media studies are really fascinating, what a huge impact [media] has on our daily lives,” says Jenkins. “That’s what caught my attention and fascinated me.”

Jenkins wrote his thesis on podcasting, a growing industry with an ever-widening scope of influence. He began to think deeply about who was presenting these podcasts, how their personal goals and experiences shaped the information they relayed, and how it could connect new people to ideas and issues that had previously been theirs. unknown.

“Podcasts are a great tool, but it’s not just the medium itself, it’s about the community around it, or the history, culture and education that comes from it. as a practice,” says Jenkins.

He has written extensively on communities connected by media. Growing up, he read comic books, and in 2020 he published an article in The Popular Culture Studies Journal about racism and sexism in the world of cosplay, where fans of TV, anime and cosplay characters comics recreate and dress up in their disguises.

Jenkins says pursuing media studies keeps him from being typecast and he can explore his wide range of interests with scientific intent. He served on the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities until January 2022 and currently works as an editorial assistant for the Howard Journal of Communications. He’s kept a toe in the health field, writing and presenting on the health and stress of black people in minority communities during COVID.

“The fact is, communication research is interdisciplinary,” says Dr. Wei Sun, a Fulbright scholar in communication and journalism at Howard University, who nominated Jenkins for the recognition. “He wants to give voice to the African-American community, that podcasts bring people together. He wants to help fill in the gaps in the study of stress and mental health in the community.

Jenkins, says Sun, has “everything: personality, leadership, research skills. It is so complete that it deserves this award.

After graduation, Jenkins would like the opportunity to connect his research on podcasts with his knowledge of the world of nerds and comics, among others.

“I just hope for the future, everything I do impacts communities,” says Jenkins. “That’s the reason I started this journey.”