Temple University provides many opportunities for students to pursue research at the undergraduate level. But what happens to that research after graduation?

After presenting at this year's Symposium for Undergraduate Research And Creativity, Kirtney Metz, KLN '22 (she/her) decided to submit her paper, Blaire White's Bodies: Transmedicalism and Homonationalism in a Youtube Influencer, to the National Communication Association (NCA) in hopes of being considered to present at the NCA Convention in November 2022.

Metz is currently finishing her degree in communication studies and will begin her master's in media studies and production (MSP) in the fall of 2022. Her paper began as an assignment for a global media course, and with encouragement from Director of Undergraduate and Communication Studies Scott Gratson (he/him) and her supporting faculty and Assistant Professor Osei Alleyne, Metz decided to see where else the paper could take her.

When it came to choosing a topic for the paper, Metz wanted to study what made YouTuber Blaire White so popular by examining the idea of homonationalism and how opposition to queer movements can unify a people. 

"I'm a little older because I'm a veteran, so I grew up in the age of that really harsh backlash that occurred on YouTube against social justice warriors," Metz said. She served from 2013 to 2019 at training bases in several countries. After getting out, Metz applied to Temple and other city schools in an effort to not have to drive as much as she did while in the military.  

Gratson met Metz at orientation for the spring of 2020 semester where they got to speak one-on-one about the communication studies program. It was in CMST 1111: Communication and Public Life with Gratson that Metz realized communication studies was the place for her, and where she first became interested in research after hearing Senior Associate Dean and Professor Deborah Cai speak to the class.

"I've seen her become more aware of the research affecting her own identity," Gratson said. Graston and Metz discussed many options for her paper after the undergraduate symposium, but Metz ultimately decided to apply to big conferences like NCA.

When applying to bigger conferences, Gratson noted, the acceptance rates become lower. This fear of rejection, however, did not deter Metz from going for it. Now, Metz will present her paper in the LGBTQ division at the NCA Conference in November and is looking forward to hearing back from other conferences she applied to. 

"Kirtney is someone who demonstrates passion through the hard work [she] put in on [her] focus," wrote Metz's friend Thomas Hernandez, KLN '22. The two presented on the same panel at the undergraduate symposium and were both founders of the CMST Journal that showcases what is going on creatively and academically in the major.

Though Metz's time at Temple has been short as she finished her undergraduate degree in just two years, she made the most of it and is looking forward to pursuing her master's in the fall. During her undergraduate years, Metz served as a Klein Rising peer mentor and Diamond Peer Teacher, all while making connections with professors and peers at Klein

MSP, Metz said, seemed like the next logical step in her academic journey. While finishing her undergraduate degree, she took as many media courses as possible, and is excited to keep studying how media influences people. After finishing her master's, Metz's dream is to become a professor or researcher and pursue her doctorate.

"I hope she knows how utterly and completely proud of her I am," Gratson said.