Kevin Wright started out studying traditional media in college, mostly video and audio production, which expanded to new media, which morphed into combining those interests with health communication. During the pandemic, he spent time with his sons interacting with them as well as working on his guitar skills (you should ask him to sing too!) This week, #MasonCOMM takes a look at Wright’s career and guidance.
Wright earned his BA, MA, and PhD in Communication. His BA at San Francisco State University focused more on media production. When he started his MA at California State University, Chico he discovered media theory and research classes, which carried over to his PhD studies at University of Oklahoma. Around the time he graduated from his PhD program, the world of online communication (computer mediated communication) became a ripe place to do research and he was able to take what he’d studied in his graduate programs and apply it to online communities.
As his research interests grew, and he networked within the academic community, Wright discovered a passion for Health Communication which he readily combined with his interests in online communities. He said he is most passionate about “social media and health issues” in his research and has published over 110 articles. His research articles “focus on a variety of health communication topics, including communication within online support communities and health outcomes, provider-patient communication, breast cancer interventions on social media, stress, social support, and work/life balance, and new technologies and health.”
Wright teaches a number of courses at both the graduate and undergraduate level. Most recently he taught Strategic Communication (Graduate), Health Communication (Graduate and Undergraduate), Research Methods (Undergraduate), and Social Media and Health (Undergraduate). One of the things Wright enjoys most about teaching is “Watching students grow in their understanding and application of communication theory and research methods (being able to apply what they have learned to advance their careers, etc.).” At Mason for eight years, Wright said the thing he’s noticed most about campus is “how many trees have been cut down on campus since I first visited Mason 20 years ago.” “I love all of the new buildings and resources on campus, but I hope we preserve some of the nice ‘park-like” surroundings.” While many peers struggled with teaching online, he said that one of the biggest challenges he faced as a teacher was “teaching 30 students in a classroom that was built for 15.” However, that happened at another university (not Mason).
In his free time, our #MasonCOMM superstar enjoys singing and playing the guitar. Like one of the department’s recently retired faculty members, Andy Finn, Wright enjoys a wide variety of music and thoroughly enjoys playing with his young sons and watching them grow. Wright attended over 15 different concerts with Andy Finn before he retired (and probably many more in the future).
When asked what advice he would give to graduating students, he said, “Do not worry if you don't find your career path immediately after graduation. Sometimes it takes a number of jobs to figure out what you want for a career and your life (and what you don't want).” “People are always reinventing themselves as they gain more life experience.”
Wright has taken his passion for media, new technologies, and health and created a career doing what he loves. His students have the benefit of that knowledge and his enthusiasm for introducing them to these subjects so close to his heart. Perhaps one day, he’ll be able to take his academic interests and combine them with his love and talent for guitar to create yet another brand-new way of reaching people.
July 30, 2021