The Second Century Initiative (2CI) Fellows program provides fellowships to support graduate students who are contributing to the research and scholarship that is necessary to help address the complex problems of the 21st century, in the spirit of Georgia State’s 2CI and Next Generation Program initiatives.
Allison Betus is a doctoral candidate in the Media and Society concentration of the Communication doctorate program. She is a 2CI Fellow in the Transcultural Conflict and Violent Extremism Initiative.
Q: Where are you from and where did you get your undergraduate degree?
A: I’m from Long Island, New York and I received my undergraduate degree from State University of New York ( SUNY) Purchase College.
Q: Why did you choose to attend Georgia State?
A: I wanted to study violent extremism and Georgia State offered me that opportunity. I had also previously worked with Dr. Anthony Lemieux as an undergrad and he encouraged me to apply here.
Q: Can you tell me briefly about your research?
A: I’m currently looking at how media affects our perceptions of terrorism and how individual-level factors of perpetrators impact media coverage. I’m also exploring the mechanisms behind extremist messaging insinuating itself into mainstream rhetoric.
Q: What are you hoping to find or discover from your research?
A: I’m hoping to gain a greater understanding of the media landscape and how it impacts attitudes and perceptions of different types of violent extremism.
Q: Why did you choose that field?
A: As an undergraduate studying psychology, I became fascinated with the cognitive mechanisms behind stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination, as well as the various ways that they can manifest. My interest in terrorism grew out of that since extremist messaging relies heavily on these processes.
Q: What are your career goals?
A: I’d like to study far right extremism at a non-governmental organization (NGO).
Q: How has the 2CI Fellowship helped you?
A: The faculty involved in the fellowship have given the other fellows and I excellent advice on job searches, publishing, interviewing, and networking. The fellowship has put me in contact with experts in the field and helped me develop my research interests. I don’t think I would have gone to nearly as many conferences or made as many contacts as I have without it. It’s also allowed me the opportunity to publish with people who are more established in the field and get my name out there a bit. It’s a lot of work, but I do feel like I’m being very well prepared for a career in this field.
Q: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
A: I like watching and participating in live music. I also enjoy cooking, writing, and lifting weights. I mostly only have time for the weights though.
Q:Any advice for students interested in applying for a fellowship?
A: Be concise in your application letter and show that you have research interests in line with the faculty that you want to work with. Don’t include extraneous documents, such as unrequested head shots, and don’t downplay relevant accomplishments. Finally, be prepared to face rejection and criticism. Even if you are accepted, learning how to gracefully accept both is critical to succeeding in graduate school and life in general.
Q:Anything else you’d like to add?
A: New students should know that camaraderie with other graduate students is important. Mutual support means a lot in a high stress environment like graduate school and it really helps you stay motivated and healthy. Academic specialties also tend to be small, so at least a few of your coworkers now may well be your coworkers and coauthors for the rest of your career. If you’re unable to maintain at least professional courtesy with others then you’re going to have problems in the job market later on. Few people care about how smart you are if you’re difficult to work with.