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Alumni Spotlight – Cassie Ray

Cassie Ray is one of two alums to complete all three degrees-B.A., M.S., and Ph.D. at the School of Communication Studies. Cassie says she is “filled with pride to say I am truly (and literally) ‘All Vol.'” “Each degree changed me, they shaped me to be a more competent, professional and better person in general. During my undergraduate experience, like many others, my goal was to earn a degree that would prepare me and help propel me into a successful career. Two years after graduating, I decided that coupling my bilingual abilities (English and Mandarin Chinese) with a master’s degree would better equip me to enter the world of intercultural business. Little did I know, international business is not exactly where I would end up. As I worked with and learned from various faculty mentors, my interests and abilities expanded in three major areas that changed the course of my career path. Those areas included researching leadership/followership (and intercultural communication), teaching, and statistical data analysis. Because I felt challenged to learn and grow while also feeling supported by various faculty members, I continued on to focus in communication studies and minor in statistics in the College of Communication and Information’s (CCI) PhD program. It was here that I honed my abilities as an instructor, researcher, and data scientist. I was offered opportunities to teach an array of communication studies courses and engage in research and publication with faculty. It also gave me a chance to grow in an area that I NEVER before thought would become one of my core areas, data analysis.

In earning each of my degrees at UTK as a communication studies major, I gained far more than I had imagined possible. The diversity in thought and learning that I was exposed to with made a profound impact on me and what I can do for others. Now, I can provide experiences, as an educator, that helps students learn and grow to become professionally and personally competent. Through research and data analysis, I can continue to better understand others and emphasize the importance of humanity in leadership/followership and co-cultural communication. I hope to continue using my educational experiences to enrich the lives of others and benefit our community.”