Ebenezer (“Eben”) Aidoo, PhD student in the UI Department of Communication Studies, had several admissions offers from other graduate programs, but chose the University of Iowa “…because of the outstanding teaching and learning resources available for graduate students, reasonable cost of living, stellar health insurance package for graduate teaching and research assistants, and the vibrant academic community in Iowa City.” Learn more about Aidoo below.
What prompted you to pursue your PhD in communication studies at the University of Iowa after working in the private sector in Ghana?
Growing up, I planned to spend my lifetime career working in industry and later impacting knowledge in academia. So, after completing my tertiary education, I started working at Safebond Company Limited, a shore handling and stevedoring company based in the port of Tema, Ghana. I later joined A-Z Petroleum Product Ghana Limited, a Petrochemical Company as a marketing executive, and then finally joined Damco Logistics Ghana Limited as a business development manager; a role I held until I decided to embark on a career in academia in the U.S. in 2018.
I chose to further my education in the United States because I believe the U.S. has one of the world’s premium university systems with exceptional programs in the communication field. As a graduate student, I was excited that while I gain my degree, I can also gain valuable experience through teaching and/or research while financing my education as a graduate teaching or research assistant.
In 2020, I graduated from New Mexico State University with my master of arts in communication. After graduation, I applied and got accepted to several schools to pursue my PhD. I selected the University of Iowa because of the outstanding teaching and learning resources available for graduate students, reasonable cost of living, stellar health insurance package for graduate teaching and research assistants, and the vibrant academic community in Iowa City.
What are your research interests?
My research interest is in interpersonal and health communication. My research focuses on health behavior change theories, health disparities among vulnerable populations, and creating preventive health messages that can help adherence to screening and adaptation of preventive behaviors within vulnerable populations. My research also examines technology use and adoption, thus how technology can be both a facilitator and impediment to health management.
You received a Stanley Graduate Award for International Research. Can you give us a brief overview of your research project?
I was privileged to be awarded the Stanley Graduate Award for International Research. Although I would have loved to travel to Kenya, I could not go due to the novel coronavirus pandemic and restrictions on international travel. I worked remotely to collect data from Kenya. We are using the unified theory of acceptance and use of technology to assess how Kenyans are adopting and using technology for their health care. This is pre-dissertation research that seeks to prepare me for my dissertation fieldwork as well as contribute to knowledge in the health communication scholarship.
You currently teach an undergraduate course, COMM:1112, Interpersonal Communication. What topics do you cover in this course? Do you enjoy teaching?
Some of the topics we cover in Interpersonal Communication are culture, identity, perception, language and interpersonal communication, nonverbal communication, emotions, listening, developing and ending relationships, intimacy, and interpersonal communication, etc. I enjoy teaching and interacting with students. I get excited when I am able to be part of the knowledge impartation process.
You currently serve as the grad board chair of the International Student Advisory Board (ISAB). Can you tell us about this role?
It is an honor to serve as the grad board chair of ISAB. In general, ISAB seeks to voice international student concerns and to advocate for international student needs in order to improve the international student experience and create a more inclusive campus environment for international students. My role as a grad board chair is to maintain communication with our advisor, members, liaisons, and external stakeholders; coordinating guests for meetings; check-in with members and projects. Overall, I coordinate and ensure that the board runs more effectively and achieves its aims. Together with my board members, we are hoping to institute a winter coat drive that will help international students get free winter coats from benevolent donors. We also hope to publicize and encourage international students to apply for grants by producing short videos on social media platforms.
Are you enjoying your time in Iowa City?
As a graduate student and a parent, I hardly have any free time but any time I do, I take my kids to the playground and also love to spend time with my wife at the Vue Rooftop. We enjoy the food, music, and fantastic views of the Iowa City skyline.