Alumni Spotlight

Ioana A. Cionea, Ph.D.

Why did you choose communication studies M.A. program at NIU? 

It was a combination of the program’s academic offer and financial aid that made it the best fit for me at the time. I was interested in a general communication studies program that would offer me well-rounded knowledge of the Communication discipline. NIU’s master program was well known for being a good terminal M.A. program that could do just that. In addition, as an international student, I needed an assistantship to be able to attend graduate school. NIU provided me with a teaching assistantship that defrayed the costs and made pursuing my education possible from a financial standpoint. 

How did your major help prepare you for what you are doing now?

I began my M.A. with no formal knowledge about communication, its history, methodological approaches, theories or research practices. During my M.A. I was able to learn a bit about all of these by taking various classes within the department, from the introduction to graduate studies course, to rhetorical criticism, or interpersonal communication classes. In these courses I learned a combination of content and method, which was useful during my doctoral studies later on. Essentially, the things I learned have laid the foundation for more in-depth study in my Ph.D. That knowledge made it possible for me to be an informed colleague who can engage with research in all areas, be it quantitative, qualitative or rhetorical, even if I have chosen to focus on one of them. Moreover, the program showed me what it meant to pursue ideas one was passionate about.

What do you feel is special about the NIU program?

The people and the diverse offer of courses that can appeal to any interests. My time in the department was enriched due to the folks I interacted with on a daily basis. I got help and feedback, or chocolate and a hug whenever needed. Individuals were not just professors in the classroom or office staff that processed my paperwork; they became mentors and friends I cherish to this day. The support network I had in the department helped me navigate my two years there successfully.

In terms of academics, the ability to take various classes taught by professors with different methodological orientations allowed me to understand the various nuances of the study of Communication and choose my own path. Exposure to their ideas helped me generate my own; the intellectual conversations with them and with my own peers (who had different backgrounds and goals for pursuing an M.A.) helped me figure out what I wanted to do. I was free to craft the path I wanted to, without pressure to pursue a specific focus, to produce a set number of research pieces, or mandated to attend conferences. I could if I wanted to, but I was not pressured into it.

Why would you recommend the M.A. program to other students?

I would recommend those interested in learning more about communication and wanting to do so in a strong yet flexible program to give NIU a chance. I would expect students to be able to set goals for themselves that their faculty would help them accomplish as well as guide them to grow and discover new ways in which they can look at the world, apply what they are learning in their professional lives, or quench that thirst for more knowledge and go beyond a master’s degree.

Is there anything you would like to tell prospective students?

I loved my time at NIU! Take the time to learn about the program and the people behind it. You’re not just getting a degree, you are becoming part of a community that can make a difference in your life.

M.A. Communication Studies, 2006

Assistant Professor
Department of Communication
University of Oklahoma