Hello readers! My name is Francesca Tripodi, and I am one of the 2013/2014 Praxis Fellows at UVa. I come to academia from a more circuitous route. Unlike many graduate students that I meet, I didn’t realize that I wanted to be in academia until much later in life. As a student at the Annenberg School at the University of Southern California my immediate interests were working in media. But after an extremely fulfilling internship at Fox Cable Networks Group, I caught the travel bug and took off to Australia where I spent six months backpacking “down under” followed by a month exploring New Zealand and month in Thailand. When I returned to The States, I yearned for a more global metropolis and spent the better part of my twenties working in Washington, DC.
My first job was at the United States Telecommunications Training Institution (USTTI). I worked as a liaison between the private sector (Cisco Systems, Bechtel, Qualcomm, and Microsoft) and the public sector (FCC, NTIA) to help deliver low-cost training programs to citizens of developing countries looking to expand and improve their digital infrastructure. In addition to organizing course content, I worked with USAID offices and the State Department to coordinate the logistics of participants traveling to the US for the training (including visa processing). After that job, I moved to Georgetown University and eventually became the Program Director of Pathways to Success – an academic immersion program that brings high school students from rural America to Georgetown University in an effort to improve minority involvement in STEM education. One of my greatest achievements in this position was helping to secure additional funds (1.3million) to continue financing the program through 2012.
As an employee at Georgetown I also took advantage of their tuition remission benefits and earned my MA in Communication, Culture and Technology. It was there that I learned I ask very “sociologically oriented” questions and with the help of my advisor decided to continue my education at the University of Virginia. As a fourth year PhD Candidate in the Sociology Department, I am currently working on data that I collected from an ethnographic study in rural Louisiana on alligator hunting. Some of my more immediate findings are the importance of female hunting in the community and the parallels between the Cajun culture I experienced and the media representations of Cajun life on the show “Swamp People.” In the spring I hope to defend my dissertation proposal in an effort to answer the central research question that currently occupies my mind: To what extent does media influence a community’s boundary making process? In what ways do these boundaries shift depending on who controls the mediated narrative?
I am also happily married to a wonderful guy and six weeks ago we welcomed to the world a beautiful baby boy.