Dr. Li Chen one of 25 chosen for fellowship


Layce Donnell

Dr. Li Chen, assistant professor of media communication, is one of 25 female professors chosen as a Kopenhaver Center Fellow for 2018.

Tova Kibal, Features Editor

 Dr. Li Chen, assistant professor of media communication, was one of 25 female professors chosen as a Kopenhaver Center Fellow for 2018.

 Being chosen for the fellowship allowed Chen to attend a workshop held by The Lillian Lodge Kopenhaver Center for the Advancement of Women in Communication in Washington, D.C. The workshop focused on helping female tenure-track professors overcome gender barriers, meet others in a similar stage of their career and encourage female professional development, an issue that Chen explained is very important to her. 

 ‘‘In fact, for the female junior faculty, being professional sometimes is against feminine culture,’’ Chen said. ‘‘It is not just seeking higher scholarly achievement, also it’s about challenging some deep-rooted values that are not good and that are against professional development.

 ‘‘It’s a big challenge.’’

 Dr. Emily Kinsky, associate professor of media communication, was a contributing force behind Chen’s initiative to apply to the fellowship.       Kinsky explained that the workshop is specifically for faculty who are wanting to advance in their careers and find mentorship.  

 “Dr. Chen is in that position, and I thought that could really help her,” Kinsky said. “Especially for women, women who are not yet tenured and they are trying to get promoted and do well in their jobs, and this is basically a support system for them.”

 Along with the push from Kinsky, Chen was also encouraged to apply by Dr. Trudy Hanson, head of the department of communication.

 ‘‘I thought ‘wow, two people encouraged me to attend,’ so it looks like I need to attend,’’ Chen said. 

   Chen grew up in Shanghai, China. She received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Fudan University in Shanghai in 2009, but quickly realized she wasn’t very interested in journalism and wanted to work in research.    When her academic advisor told her that the best place to do research was in the U.S., because most contemporary media communication theories originated here, she decided to move.

 ‘‘I think I was interested in doing research because of curiosity. I’m curious about many things,’’ Chen said. 

  After arrival in the U.S., she attended Syracuse University for her master’s degree and received her doctorate from the University of Iowa in 2016. She then was hired at West Texas A&M University. Hanson explained that Chen really impressed the search committee during her teaching presentation. 

  ‘‘She puts her whole heart into it, and lots of effort,’’ Hanson said, ‘‘and she wants her students to have a good experience, too.’’

 Going on her third year at WTAMU, her first full-time position ever, she said she really enjoys the culture and how helpful her co-workers are. She often works with faculty in the communications department on various projects, such as research on the power of different messages on young adults’ perceptions of sexually transmitted diseases and content analysis.

 Research is a very time-consuming activity that requires high concentration and balancing it with teaching is sometimes difficult, Chen explained. Managing time is her biggest challenge and Chen spends a lot of time in her office, because that’s where she is the most productive. For leisure, Chen enjoys a form of Chinese opera called Peking Opera. 

 ‘‘I really like the music, I often listen to the music and grade papers,’’ Chen said, 

 ‘‘but one of my favorite things to do when I’m not working is watching silly cat videos, and playing games that have a lot of cat images.’’