“Knowledge is a treasure, but practice is the key to it.” – Thomas Fuller
If you meet Stephanie, you would be impressed by her daily appearance: a Chibi Maruko-chan hairstyle, a navy linen shirt, sweatpants and a pair of Stan Smiths. It may be hard to associate this person with her various titles. She is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies at HKBU, leader of the BU Audience Research Lab; and Director of HKBU FactCheck Service. Stephanie’s appearance is well and truly matched by her passionate commitment to exploring practice in the field of communication.
Stephanie in her daily look (photo taken in the CVA Building, HKBU)
Exploring Engagements: The School Days
Stephanie holds two BAs, one MPhil and one PhD, all from top institutions, but she has not always been “a nice ordinary girl”. She embarked on her academic journey from a two-year program at a community college in the United States.
“To transfer from a two-year program from a community college to a four-year program, a cGPA of 3.8 or above guarantees a better chance,” says Stephanie, “I assumed my responsibility for my future and studied really hard at that time.”
Stephanie then entered UCLA majoring in economics – the field favored by her family. Despite her obedience, Stephanie applied for a double-major in communication studies. “Communication has always interested me,” says Stephanie, “Thanks to my communication professor who encouraged me to chase my dream. I gave it a try.”
Stephanie eventually delved further into communication studies and obtained a MPhil from CUHK and a PhD from UW-Madison, yet her exploration was not limited to academic performance. She practiced taekwondo and participated in voluntary work at UCLA. During her time at CUHK, she even became a student hall tutor fully engaged in the vibrant university life.
Stephanie with her hall tutees at CUHK
Exploring Possibilities: Career at HKBU
During her study at UCLA and UW-Madison, Stephanie took up a variety of part-time jobs – librarian, computer lab manager, teaching assistant and research assistant. Her role as a research assistant at UW-Madison was to track subject reactions in psychology experiments with a communication focus.
This job equipped Stephanie with academic sensitivity and a passion for research. Initially she planned to become a financial law consultant, yet she accepted the offer of a communication scholar. “At that time, I realized the importance of multi-disciplinary development,” says Stephanie, “Despite pursuing an ultimate goal, one needs to be flexible.”
Joining HKBU was a dream come true for Stephanie. “I have been passionate about media and advertising since I was young, and the three subsidiaries of the School of Communication and Film cover all I love,” she says. Stephanie considers the school as a first-rate platform to explore the communication industry – both theoretically and practically.
Stephanie started her career at HKBU as an assistant research professor in the Department of Journalism, where she taught courses and conducted research. “Whether staff or students, everyone here is friendly and willing to help when you need it,” says Stephanie. With the warmth she felt from the people there, her journey of exploration will never stop. She now has joined the Department of Communication Studies and has been ready for new challenges.
Stephanie teaches Data Analytics and Visualization for Corporate Communication. Her students can learn how to utilizebehavioral data to understand, manage, and communicate with both internal and external stakeholders. They will have hands-on experience using real world data and visualization tools to generate communication strategies in a corporate context. The course will also apply the insights of people analytics and digital media analytics to help students become fine communicators and critical analysts.
Stephanie with MA Journalism students at HKBU
Exploring the Truth: The HKBU FactCheck Service
One major research area of Stephanie’s is media psychology, which explores how different sources and messages may have a unique impact on the audience. Stephanie has persisted in this research interest since she occupied the role of research assistant at UCLA and now the director of HKBU FactCheck Service.
The FactCheck Service aims at revealing truth and raising public awareness of fake news through a scientific approach. It identifies suspicious information on Facebook, fact-checks the identified information, and publishes the results in videos, animation, and written reports on the website as well as its mobile App.
Stephanie believes the service can benefit society despite its limitations. “Digital and social media allow fake news to spread faster than ever, and now inaccurate information about COVID-19 is raging,” says Stephanie, “Our service could provide people with a channel to verify information.”
The idea was jointly proposed by Dean Huang Yu, Professor Raymond Li, and Stephanie. At first, the team only had three of them. Raymond was in charge of editorials including websites and social media accounts, while Stephanie was responsible for its promotion. Now the team has 20 members. “We welcome any student who wants to learn about fact-checking or to promote us,” says Stephanie, “It is a concrete experience that brings you what lectures cannot.”
Stephanie with the HKBU FactCheck Service team
Exploring University Life: Advice to Students
Stephanie encourages her students to actualize ideas through extra-curriculum practice. She asserts the importance of individual development and lifts barriers by lowering demands in her courses. “Students should have a plan and execute it, but attain acceptable grades through time management,” advises Stephanie, “The key is to identify priorities for themselves.”
However, one has to reach heights from a solid foundation. This, from Stephanie’s perspective, is language proficiency. “When you master languages, you read faster, think deeper, and express ideas more eloquently,” explained Stephanie, “This is the basis of professional communication.”
Stephanie with her international schoolmates in UW-Madison
Looking back over Stephanie’s path, it has been her lofty aspirations and fierce determination that have brought her these accomplishments. It is also the School of Communication and Film that has enabled her to march among giants and achieve excellence. Similarly, equipped with active practice and independent thinking, our students can hopefully expect an auspicious future.
Authors: ZHANG Mohan Patrick, LENG Rujing Grace, CHEN Yiyang Emilia, CHEN Yutian Niki, JIANG Wenli Sophia, XIAO Yang Alice 張默涵，冷如璟，陳依揚，陳雨恬，蔣雯麗，肖揚 (Students from ORGC3046 Writing for Professional Communication 2021)
Edited by Dr. Michelle HUANG 黃澤萍