This summer the Vovis Center for Research and Advanced Study will have a new face as the Interim Director: Sara Kitsch. Hailing from Freeland, Mich., Kitsch has spent the last six years serving as an instructor of record for Texas A&M University teaching in the undergraduate classroom, working and mentoring students and developing classes.
Her focus in teaching include communication studies such as public speaking, small group communication, rhetorical studies and persuasion. After finishing her Ph.D this year, Kitsch will arrive to Knox to serve as the new Interim Director of the Vovis Center and is excited to begin working with students.
The Knox Student: What attracted you to work at Knox’s Vovis Center?
Sara Kitsch: I definitely loved the sense of community Knox brings. Being back on a small liberal arts campus and the welcoming vibe from the faculty, staff and of course the students, was just pulling me in that direction. I think the Vovis Center is just absolutely amazing Ñ it’s a dream job [and] I’m so excited to start working there this summer. It really combines my passion for research, student mentorship and of course graduate school all into one. I’m really excited to start working with students who also share a passion for research. I’m really just impressed by the amount of creative and research projects that are funded and produced with the help of the Vovis Center. I’m definitely looking for that.
TKS: What are your goals for when you start working this summer, and even for the next year?
Kitsch: My first ordered goal I have is to really maintain the high level of student success that you all have right now, be it in research projects, graduate placement and fellowship. As we look to the future, I’m really excited to grow the on-the-ground outreach of the Vovis Center. When I was there interviewing, I talked with a number of students and we started thinking about ways to strategize and connect with a wider range of students who could be utilizing the center. I also hope to start helping students continue in their professional development, especially students who are interested in going on to graduate school.
TKS: What do you have in mind for creating new avenues for students to present their research?
Kitsch: I started brainstorming with students there and faculty about different ways to get students involved in regional conferences and perhaps hosting some sort of student conference at Knox where surrounding schools and Knox students could be sharing their work. Also to think more carefully about integrating the larger community and different community members with the Knox campus community to present their workÑin the Galesburg community and in other surrounding areas [like] Monmouth. I just think that presenting research on multiple levels, whether it’s in a formal way, poster sessions or informal community night presentations, I think there’s a variety way for students to best get their work and knowledge out there. I’m definitely interested in expanding those options.
TKS: What do you hope to bring to the Vovis Center from your personal experiences?
Kitsch: I hope to bring my research interests, [which] are grounded primarily in gender, citizenship and civic participation. My work takes serious visual and media representations of women in particular as civic actors in U.S. political context. It’s a different type of research because Knox doesn’t currently have a communication studies program, so I hope to bring a new and unique perspective. I also hope to bring my passion for research and creative projects as well. I really enjoy learning about student research and helping students answer and solve questions.
TKS: Why is it important for students to have a center like the Vovis Center and have access to these research programs?
Kitsch: There’s a lot of people out there who don’t have anything like the Vovis Center or anything close to the amount of resources that it provides students. I think what happens in student research is student growth. Conducting research projects, being a part of creative process and honor projects all help students become more well rounded and put their knowledge and their learning in the classroom into practice. Whether they’re going on to graduate school, entering the workforce or applying for graduate fellowship, I really think these experiences are pivotal for giving them the tools to going in those directions. I think it’s an immensely important center doing important work.