Welcome Our Fall 2021 Incoming MATX/PhD Class

August 16, 2021

Entesar Albarakati obtained her Bachelor's degree in media with a specialization in public relations from Um al-Qura University, KSA in 2013, and her Master's degree in Sciences and Public relations from Quinnipiac University, USA in 2019. She is currently a lecturer at Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University, Saudi Arabia. During her studies, she was interested in attending several training courses to develop her media skills and participated in many student activities that further enhanced her skills. Entesar has also worked as a researcher with the Authority of Tourism and Antiquities, in the management of exhibitions, as a trainer and marketer.

Maha Alshareef is a highly motivated, committed, and conscientious lecturer dedicated to factual and concise information. She has extensive knowledge in journalism as well as teaching and research experience in the field. Maha is proficient in interpersonal relations, communication, and collaboration background knowledge in public relations. Through extensive practice over ten years teaching journalism at Jazan University and Saudi Electronic University in Saudi Arabia, and interactions with other professionals in conferences and other professional networking, Maha has strengthened her skills through practical application in the work environment and consequently has achieved a high in creative thinking, judgment, innovation, communication, and negotiation in addition to analytical, problem-solving, and critical thinking.

Mohammed Alsulami earned a Bachelor's degree in TV, Radio, and Film from Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud University in 2013 and a Masters in Broadcast and Cinematic Arts from Central Michigan University in 2019.  He has worked in Mecca newspaper, MBC radio, and produced several news stories and short films. Additionally, Mohammed has worked as a Teaching Assistant in the College of Media and Communication at Imam Muhammad ibn Saud University in Saudi Arabia. He has taught many courses that focus on screenwriting and writing for TV and Radio.  Mohammed’s research interests are focused on the film industry, politics, and new media, and he has presented some research papers at conferences in Saudi Arabia and America.

Abrar Banasser earned a bachelor of Arts in Journalism from King Abdulaziz University and a Master of Arts in Public Relation from Rowan University. Before joining the academic field, she was working as a Sales specialist at one of the leading real estate companies in Saudi Arabia. Currently, Abrar is a lecturer in the Department of Media & Communication at King Faisal University. Her research interests include new media, social influence, and cultural sensitivity in international communication. 

Alexis Finc (pronounced Fince) is the current director of communications for VCU’s College of Humanities and Sciences. She is responsible for all internal and external communications, strategic messaging, and creative positioning for the College. She has worked in communications for educational institutions for the past eight years. Prior to that, she worked as an editor and writer in New York and Los Angeles. Alexis holds a B.A. in women and gender studies and English from Rutgers University and an M.F.A. in creative writing - poetry from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She just moved to the suburbs(!) with her husband, son (Max, 5), and daughter (Dottie, 8 months).

Nick Haseloff is a first-year MATX Ph.D. student studying photojournalism and mass communication. His research will examine the methodological, technological and economical factors surrounding the decline of photojournalism staffs at regional newspapers in an effort to eventually effect a solution to the problem. He spent the last four years working part-time as a writer and photojournalist at regional and national publications in the US and UK. Originally from the Gulf Coast of Florida, he lived for over a decade in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina before he moved to Glasgow, Scotland for two years to study journalism in the UK. He holds a B.A. in Mass Communication from the University of North Carolina at Asheville and an MLitt in Digital Journalism from the University of Strathclyde.

Rainie Johnson received her Bachelor of Arts from Randolph-Macon College in Spring 2018 and in Spring 2020, her Master of Arts from the University of Virginia, both in the field of East Asian studies with concentrations in Chinese language, literature, and popular culture. At UVA, she completed her master’s thesis, entitled “Enemy Officer Defeated,” exploring the adaptation and translation of the Three Kingdoms story cycle to the Dynasty Warriors video game franchise. At VCU, Rainie intends to continue developing the themes and concepts prevalent in this work, despite leaving behind the East Asian studies discipline. Going forward, she will also focus on the melding of traditional literary narrative structures and digital transmedia storytelling within video game studies, with specific attention given to genre fictions, adaptations, and fan productions. 

Andrew Massa is from Virginia Beach, VA. He earned a B.A. from LeMoyne College (Theatre Arts, Film Studies) and a M.A. from Norfolk State University (Mass Communications: Media Production).  Andrew also  received k-12 teaching certification (Visual Arts, Theatre Arts, English) through Old Dominion Universities’ Career Switcher Program. His personal interests include animal rights activism and non-fiction video production. Research interest involves exploring the amelioratory effects of graphic violence viewership.

Joshua J. Smith holds both a Bachelor's and Master's in Mass Communication with a strategic focus in public relations from Virginia Commonwealth University. Additionally, Smith has contributed to individual and group research for academic conferences and publications in the areas of media ethics, health care communication, and social media. Smith has an ongoing interest in the growing field of media psychology with a related passion for media literacy, technology and public relations. Over the last decade, Smith has applied his knowledge and skills to communication and marketing roles with statewide nonprofit, health care and business-to-business organizations, operating in both management and leadership roles in the industry. He is a full-time faculty member of public relations at The Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture with instruction spanning the public relations curriculum.

Hope Ward received her Bachelor’s from Randolph Macon College with a major in theater and minors in Black Studies, Women Studies, and Music. She then went on to receive her M.F.A. in Theater from Columbia University. Hope works as a professional Actor. Some of her favorite roles include Tyree in the Off-Broadway production of “Bundle Of Sticks” at Intar theater in New York, and “Antigone” in Baltimore Center Stages production of Antigone. She has been involved in productions on both Amazon Prime Video and HBO. She is currently in production filming a piece she wrote entitled “Hood Nigga Narratives// To all the Black Girls Who’ve Waited”.  Her work as an actor, artist and academic recognizes and is derived through the synonymity of Black Feminism and universal humanity. Her research interests are in creating an equitable and inclusive teaching style of acting in M.F.A., B.F.A., and conservatory programs and integrating Shakespeare and Ntozake Shange’s body of works to highlight and broaden our idea of “classical theater” and create stage productions that engulf themselves in the reality, of Black Life while honoring Black actors years of classical training.