English and Communication Department

Expertise

I am a communication scholar who analyzes various forms of interpersonal and mediated communication. I collect and analyze data mostly from online interactions and identify patterns that highlight conversations about identity, political mobilization, and social relations.

I believe that by looking at social media engagement, we can learn and identify important elements about culture, human motivations, social inequalities, and even hope for prosocial resistance and disruption. In my work, whether that is through my research or in my classrooms, I often discuss issues of racism, sexism, violence, homophobia, immigration, ageism, ableism, and more.

Why focus on communication?

For me, communication is at the core of who we are and who we can become as human beings. It is through communication that we build ourselves, our relationships, and the world we want to live in.

What's your favorite course, & why?

I like challenges, which is why I almost take it upon myself to teach courses that I know students may dislike, and I like to turn them into courses they end up enjoying.

I know, for example, that a lot of people dread public speaking, which is why I try to make my Oral Communication a fun and enjoyable experience where students can garner the necessary confidence to speak in front of an audience. I take the same approach to our media PEQ, Research Methods, and Communication Theory, all courses that students take because "they have to" but remain engaged in them because they found them valuable.

My favorite course, however, is Representation in Media and everybody knows that this course is "my baby." Representation in Media is the exact opposite of what students expect. Students often take this course after having taken multiple courses with me and they expect to "have fun" and "watch movies." Instead, in this course, we end up engaging in difficult and often challenging conversations about our own biases and our complicity in systemic oppression.

Why Naz?

Why not Naz? Having studied in several countries and research institutions, I find Nazareth to be a mini-universe where there is real potential for change and where one can create an ideal learning community. I enjoy the size of our classes, I enjoy the students that we have, I enjoy our ability to be a small but vibrant community, and I enjoy the small-town yet city-like vibe that Rochester has.

How do you help prepare the Naz community to be equity-minded and socially just?

For me, it goes back to communication being at the core of our issues. At the end of the day, most of us want the same things: a fulfilling life where we feel connected to each other and a world where injustices are addressed and resolved. I cannot imagine teaching a course in the field of communication without addressing these fundamental social needs.

I teach about issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion. I do research on those issues as well. I often serve on different committees across campus and I mentor students, formally and informally, who want to become active changemakers in their communities and/or want to become inclusive communication professionals.

How do you make the topics you teach come alive? How do you engage students?

My teaching philosophy is simple; I offer students three things: value, flexibility, and a challenge.

If you were to do a quick search on the most valuable skills companies are looking for, in every list, you will find communication.

Communication, however, comes in different forms. It can be visual, oral, written, verbal, and nonverbal. In designing my courses, I ask myself two main questions: 1) What communication and professional skills do students need, right now, in this current world? And 2) How can I make sure that the most disadvantaged of my students can succeed in my courses? The answers to these questions often include textbook-free courses and several team activities that foster interaction and demand time management skills. I am also known for my unorthodox in-class activities that involve physical movement, tons of fun, and puzzling activities where students design their own assignments.

If I had to pick an example of how I try to personalize my courses, I would point to my very popular "Money $ystem" which is an alternative scoring system where students have nothing to lose but by making "money," they can collect rewards. If you thrive on competition and want to push yourself, you can make money by excelling in creativity, performance, effort, engagement, artistic ability, proficiency, originality, or a combination of any of these. Rewards often include assignment exceptions, extra credit, and the possibility of skipping the feared final test of each course.

What are you particularly proud of, or most satisfied about, in your work?

Throughout my career, I have been honored multiple times with awards and nominations due to my scholarship, my teaching style, and my no-nonsense approach to advocacy. As a teacher, it is always a heartwarming feeling when your students appreciate your hard work and communicate that what they learned in your class "actually" ended up being of value.

When it comes to my career as a scholar, in 2021 the University of Nebraska Press published an edited feminist collection of essays written by community leaders in Latin America that my friend and co-editor Lydia Huerta, Ph.D., and I, along with a number of amazing scholars and individuals from the University of Utah, put together. It took us three years to find, invite, collect, and translate the amazing work of women from Mexico, Honduras, Cuba, Brazil, and Guatemala. This collection is the first of its kind in that we were able to publish their work also in their original language. The multilingual nature of this publication honors the voices of each author and disrupts the North/Western tradition of centering English as THE canonical academic language.

Ana Gomes Parga

Student view

"Ana was one of my favorite professors at Naz. She constantly challenged and expanded your perspective of yourself and society. I came out of her class more empathic, analytic, and open-minded." — Miranda Eduardo '19 (communication and media major)

WXXI Connections Collaborations

Geva Theatre Center Collaboration

    Somewhere Over the Border video prologue (2022)

    Recent Publications

    Badass Feminist Politics: Exploring Radical Edges of Feminist Theory, Communication, and Activism
    Edited by Sarah Jane Blithe and Janell C. Bauer
    Rutgers University Press

    Dis(missing) Voices: A Persistent Battle against Erasure
    Ana Gómez Parga
    Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies
    University of Nebraska Press
    Volume 42, Number 3, 2021
    pp. 33-37