PhD Student Spotlight: Olesya Venger

Olesya Venger
Olesya Venger, a second-year Ph.D student studying advertising, is originally from Kyiv, Ukraine.

Where did you complete your undergraduate and master's work?
University of "Kyiv-Mohyla Academy," Marquette University and University of Pennsylvania.

What helped you decide to choose Grady's AdPR program for your PhD degree? Grady's AdPR program has a great reputation when it comes to advertising in academia and industry. I came to Grady hoping to conduct interdisciplinary research that would be at the intersection of sex appeal advertising, online advertising regulations, and social change. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication gave me the opportunity to do so.

What are your areas of interest for research or for a future career path, and why?
Been born and raised in Ukraine, I saw mothers who got phone calls from their daughters held abroad by force as sex slaves. In my work I am exploring the connections between online advertising and human trafficking.

What kinds of classes do you teach at Grady (if any)? What kinds of topics do you cover in those classes?  I am fortunate to teach ADPR5140, Advertising and Society, which is a truly remarkable,discussion-based and thinking-oriented course. In this course students explore topics related to advertising as social communication (e.g., depictions of gender, race and sex in advertising). The goal of the course is to look at what advertising tells us about society and our place in it. Also, this course strives to look at advertising in its social context: a consumer culture, a capitalist economy, an increasingly-concentrated commercial media system, a democratic political system.

What kinds of activities (work, internships, etc.) have you been involved in during your graduate experience? There are two summers that contributed greatly to shaping my research personality. With the support of the Annenberg School for Communication Summer Culture Program, I conducted research on pleasure service advertising in the countries of destination for sex slaves (Singapore, Hong Kong). With the support of the Consortium on Media Policy Studies COMPASS program, I conducted research on controversial advertising practices online and interactive advertising regulations in North America and the European Union.

What part of your Grady experience (classes, professors, etc.) has been helpful in your graduate program? It is hard to single out somebody in particular. Grady has a pléiade of advertising and public relations gurus. Everyone of them has contributed immensely to my understanding of the field.

What's been your favorite part about living in Athens? The feeling of community and being welcomed. I felt it when I got on the bus on the evening of Cinco de Mayo. The bus was almost empty. The road was long. Two guys with musical instruments hopped on the bus. They started playing melodies of the old South. Passengers turned off their musical devices. Somebody started filming the musicians with the smart phone. They continued playing. No, this spirit has not gone with the wind. It is still here.

What are your career goals? To teach. To do research. They haven't changed that much since I started graduate work.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering pursuing an Ad/PR graduate program? Everybody is different. When coming to Grady I knew exactly what I wanted to do here, and why it is important for me to be here at this stage of my life. Advice? Follow your passion. But make sure it is a real one. Do not be afraid to make mistakes, to fail multiple times. What does not kill us makes us stronger.

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