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CCI Doctoral Student Spotlight: Laura Lemon

Laura LemonLaura Lemon is a doctoral candidate in the College of Communication and Information with a concentration in public relations. Her research interests include internal communication, employee engagement, mindfulness and social media. Laura received her Master’s degree in Communication from the University of Colorado and her Bachelor’s degree in organizational communication from Pepperdine University.

Laura spent 7 years helping nonprofit organizations with fundraising and public relations initiatives. Upon completing her Master’s, Laura knew she could make a bigger difference in the lives of others by pursuing a PhD. Making a difference, Laura explained, signifies utilizing communication scholarship to create a larger, social impact by positively affecting the lives of others through institutions of higher education. 

What is next for you?

I am excited to announce that I have accepted a tenure-track position at the University of Alabama as an assistant professor starting fall 2017. I look forward to continuing my relationships with the faculty and students at the University of Tennessee and to building new relationships with my colleagues and students at the University of Alabama. 

What did you gain from CCI?

My experience at CCI has truly made me a well-rounded PhD candidate. I have had the opportunity to conduct research independently and as a member of a team working across disciplines. In both instances, I have been exposed to qualitative and quantitative methods enabling me to hone my research skills. I have also had the priviledge of teaching three public relations courses, which has enhanced my ability to effectively teach public relations students. I have even had academic service opportunities including serving as an officer for the Graduate Student Association and developing workshops for the PRSSA chapter on campus. 

What courses/instructors were most influential in your doctoral program?

Three faculty members have really made a difference in my doctoral program. First, my advisor, Dr. Michael Palenchar has encouraged and supported me from the beginning. Through our countless meetings and several classes together, he has taught me how to become a solid researcher and writer. Second, my mindfulness teacher, Dr. Joan Rentsch, has changed my life forever. I took her mindfulness management course fall semester of my second year. In this class, I learned about the mindfulness practice, which I now incorporate into my research. Lastly, Dr. Maureen Taylor has been one of my greatest advocates. Dr. Tayor always makes time to review my research before it goes under review, listen to a presentation, or write a letter of recommendation. She also works to ensure I am getting appropriate teaching opportunties. She has been a wonderful addition to our school as department chair.  

What is your advice for future PhD students?

The PhD program at the University of Tennessee was the perfect program for helping me continue my academic career. I would encourage anyone who is considering a PhD to apply to this program. You can expect a collegial cohort, supportive faculty, challenging classes, research opportunites, and teaching experience, all which is the ideal combination for a great PhD program experience.  


I am forever grateful for my experience at the University of Tennessee and joining the CCI family. I am proud to represent the university and college as I begin the next chapter in my career. 

Prepared by the 2016-2017 CCI Spotlight Task Force

  • Lindsey Bier
  • LaVerne Gray
  • Abhijit Mazumdar
  • Whitney Tipton