Kristen Okamoto

After graduating with my B.S. in Public Relations from Appalachian State University in 2007, I went to work in the insurance industry. Needless to say, the corporate 9-5 grind was not for me! Feeling unfulfilled and in need of change, I began some serious soul-searching. My search brought me full circle. In 2011 I made the decision to return to graduate school to pursue my dream of teaching and researching. I earned my M.A in Communication Studies from the University of North
Carolina at Charlotte in May 2013.

During my time as a Master’s student, my interests proved to be diverse and varied. My research lies at the intersection of health, rhetoric, and critical studies. For my thesis work, I participated in an ethnographic study of a running group that organized to aid the local homeless population. My work kindled an interest in the relationship between sport, health, and marginalization. As I would run through the city streets with my running group, I began asking questions such as: what does it mean to be healthy?; how do our lived experiences influence our perception of health and nutrition?; and how may sport work to create community?. These questions eventually took center stage throughout the course of my research. I look forward to seeing where these interests take me during my time at OU.

While at UNCC, I was fortunate enough to work as teaching and research assistant alongside faculty who both inspired and challenged me. During my brief, but meaningful, stint as a M.A. student, I had the opportunity to teach a variety of courses and research across diverse areas. As a TA, I facilitated courses in Rhetoric, Media Studies, and Organizational Communication. My work as a RA
enabled me to participate in research far outside of my comfort zone spanning from the rhetoric of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign to the critical implications of Chinese search engines. It is this continuous process of learning and growth that inspires me to now continue my education.

Academic pursuits aside, I am a native of Charlotte, NC (Charlotteans as we like to call ourselves) and enjoy going for a run, riding my bike whenever I can, and watching football on Sunday afternoons (yes, I am a Panther’s fan). My husband John and I enjoy traveling together, opening a bottle of wine and trying new dishes, as well as keeping the local Redbox in business. We look forward to starting our new life in Athens!