Life as a TA

I had the opportunity to meet with two of the six Teaching Assistant’s for SCOM’s new grad program Jackie Carroll, from Massachusetts with her undergrad degree from The College of William & Mary, and Eric Dirth, from Iowa and graduated from Saint Leo University in Tampa, Florida.

Read on for more about the life of our first TA’s!

Eric & Jackie

Eric & Jackie

1. What made you decide to go into a graduate program?

Jackie: I majored in sociology and I am aiming towards earning a PhD. I chose the JMU program specifically because of the Teaching Assistantships.

Eric: I just wasn’t ready to be done and had never experienced Virginia before. I appreciate how this program has an applied and theoretical component, which can lead me to either more schooling or into the job world.

2. What do you plan on doing once you complete your two years with your Masters in Communication and Advocacy?

Jackie: I want my PhD in either sociology or communications. However, after joining the program here at JMU, I am definitely leaning towards communication. I want to become a professor in the future.

Eric: I’m still figuring it out, but the end goal is to run for public office in Iowa.

3. Any advice for students trying to figure out to apply for grad school or not?

Jackie: This is definitely a fun and exciting process. My advice for students considering it, make sure you enjoy a lot of reading and writing! It also helped me to meet with professors who can answer any questions you have. If you can find a way to pay for it, I would suggest.

Eric: I agree with Jackie about the reading and writing! I also met with some professors and had coffee with them to have more of an understanding about different programs. My advice for those who are applying be yourself in your application. Know your strengths and weaknesses…If you are changing yourself for the application than that program may not be the best fit for you.

4. Can you give more insight into life as a TA?

Eric: We are both TA’s for the group GCOM (Fundamental of Human Communication) classes. On Friday, we hold breakout sessions, where we have more freedom to work with the material and steer the class.

Jackie: The program here is unique because of the mentorship mentally and there is a transition year between helping a professor and solo teaching. Year two of this program is when the TA’s get to teach.

5. What do you like most about JMU and are you involved in anything yet?

Eric: I am involved in the Graduate Student Association (GSA) which is a new program here. It’s been great meeting other graduate students and publicizing that JMU has multiple grad programs. It is a beautiful campus here and I got the chance to see Phil Vassar—amazing.

Jackie:  I love the student culture here. The freshmen in the GCOM classes are great students and very excited to learn. People really do bleed purple here at JMU.


Eric and Jackie are excited to be a part of the first year of the Communication and Advocacy Masters program, while being able to shape it with the faculty.