GPI: Audrey Kali – Communication, Media, and Performance Professor

Courtesy of Framingham State

By Haley Hadge

News Editor

What is your role here at FSU and what does your job entail?

So, my role is I’m a professor in the Communication, Media, and Performance department and I teach courses in theory, and also some courses that have a performance component. So, for example, I teach Human Communication, Interpersonal Dialogue, Small Group Communication, Advanced Public Speaking Argumentation – I teach too much – Organizational Communication, and Persuasion and Social Influence.

What is your professional and educational background?

I have a bachelor’s degree from Chatham University in Pittsburgh in Communication, and I was a Creative Writing minor. And then I got a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh in Rhetoric and Communication. And at the time, I specialized in Ancient Greek rhetoric. So, I guess you could say that I’m one of those people – I guess I’m a history buff. And I think that what we learn today in the 21st century is very much dependent on what has come before us. I think it’s really important for, in my department, for students to understand where the discipline of communication has come from, and a lot has come from these paradigms in Ancient Greek history.

What do you enjoy most about your work here at FSU?

One of my important roles here is I helped to develop the minor in Science Communication and I also teach the course Science Communication. A lot of people don’t understand what communication is because communication is actually everything. You could communicate about anything under the sun. And so, I enjoy and I like to help students and my colleagues understand how important it is not to be siloed as a department – not to have each department be so “in and of itself” – that it doesn’t understand other departments. I think being interdisciplinary is really important. 

What are some hobbies that you have that you’d like to share with the community?

A hobby that I’ve become rather famous for with my students is that I do macrophotography of insects. I’m on Instagram, and I have a website for my photography. And I started this a couple years ago, I think four years ago. So my website is audreykali-photography.com. So you can see some of my pictures there. But I think it’s real important for people who have hobbies or have these interests to realize how important it is to share your work, and I never learned so much about insects. They’re so important to our environment, especially with climate change. And what I do is I take pictures of the insects, then I identify them, and a lot of insects that I’ve been finding – particularly this past year – are more native to the south and southern climates and they’re here. I just love it! … My motto on my website is to see close what you always see but never really see. My neighbors call me the bug lady. … Most of the pictures that I take are in my backyard and people will say “Where did you find that insect?” I say “Well, right here in my yard.” 

What is something that students may be surprised to learn about you?

I dropped out as a sophomore [in college], got married, had kids [and] got divorced. And then went back to school in my 30s and then stayed straight through my Ph.D. And I think it’s important for people to realize that everyone has a different path to follow. Not everyone is ready for what everybody else does – graduate from high school, go to college, whatever. And, not to feel bad about yourself. I regretted that a lot and at times I was embarrassed to say I dropped out of college. But now I think “Oh, well when I went back, I was ready and I did really well.” I also share that with a lot of my students who were considered non-traditional students. You know, they might be a little bit older or somebody who had been in the military before, and they might feel self conscious about being around students that are very young. And, you know, we’re all in this together.

What piece of advice do you have for students here at FSU?

My advice would be to take courses while you’re in college of things that you want to learn about. It sounds so cliche to say “Follow your heart, follow your interests.” But I feel really sad when I see students in a degree program and they’re there because their parents think they should be – that they think they’ll get a job in that particular field. And, I think if you just follow what you like, things will fall into place. That sounds kind of idealistic, but it really rings true for a lot of people. It rings true for myself. It wasn’t easy, but I just didn’t think about the money. I didn’t think about the job. I said “okay, I’m going to do this with my life because I like this, whatever the ‘this’ is, is right.” And I think the most miserable place anybody could be in one’s life is to feel disconnected from what you do when you’re making a living, and not everybody can have that benefit. I feel very thankful that I’m one of those people – that I like what I do and someone happens to pay me for it. … But I think if you let the money and the job guide you, you’re going to find yourself in some really unpleasant situations where you’re not happy.