Rhetoric and Composition doctoral student Bridgette Sanders earns 2024 CCCC Scholars for the Dream Travel Scholarship Award

By Katherine Grubb

Prior to her move to Florida State University for her doctoral studies, Bridgette Sanders earned extensive and diverse academic titles. During the three years she has spent in FSU’s English-Rhetoric and Composition Program, Sanders has worked with several well-versed scholars in her field.

Aside from exploring the intersection of language and identity, she also researches the role of sisterhood among Black women in academic environments.

“My dissertation focus is the rhetoric of empathy with a focus on race and communities,” Sanders says. “I’m applying this idea of black sisterhood and mentorship to empathy, healing, and community in rhetoric and composition programs.”

Sanders’ most recent research project was one of 20 selected for the 2024 Conference on College Composition and Communication’s Scholars for the Dream Travel Scholarship. First conceptualized in the spring of 2023 when Sanders and English Assistant Professor Ronisha Browdy’s research interests merged to create an exploration of “The Abundance of Global Black Rhetorics,” the investigation emphasizes the importance of claiming sisterhood as a black feminist rhetorical practice.

“It is about how we, as black women, can overcome intraracial tension, and also why we need sisterhood as a supportive system to counter racism or sexism in any space we exist within,” Sanders says.

In early April, Sanders recently traveled to Spokane, Washington, for the 2024 CCCC Convention to accept the award. She also presented her research on Friday, April 5, as part of The Abundance of Global Black Rhetorics roundtable discussion that included Browdy, University of Central Florida Associate Professor Esther Milu, and seven graduate students who work with Milu at UCF.

While she was in Spokane, Sanders accepted the scholarship and reconvened with alumni of FSU’s Rhetoric and Composition program. Sanders joins FSU-English alumnae Kendra L. Mitchell (2018), Liana Clarke (2019), and Nitya Pandey (2021) in winning the Scholars for the Dream Travel Scholarship.

Sanders’ academic accomplishments include earning a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism and minor in English at the University of Florida, a Master of Arts in English at the University of West Florida, a Master of Business Administration at St. Leo University, and a Juris Doctor at Stetson University.

In the professional world, Sanders has been involved in many academic and extracurricular writing projects, assisting organizations in education, business, sports, and law. When she was a law student at Stetson, she interviewed and wrote a profile of Barry Scheck, who in 1992 cofounded the Innocence Project, which has helped to free or exonerate hundreds of wrongfully convicted people.

Now, as she develops her dissertation, Sanders works on smaller-scale, independent research projects with her peers and English faculty members. In April of 2023, she was finishing a project with FSU English Associate Professor Michael Neal, director of the Rhetoric and Composition Program and her dissertation chair. The project also included FSU graduate student Hannah Betz. Their study analyzed accessibility between asynchronous, synchronous, and face-to-face composition classes in the aftermath of COVID-19’s peak.

After concluding any research study, scholars routinely present the findings to a slate of peers in a formal conference setting. Academics from around the world attend the conferences to engage in the most up-to-date discourse in their field of expertise.

The Conference on College Composition and Communication is one of the most prestigious in the rhetoric and composition academic community. FSU’s Rhetoric and Composition program has historically sent students and faculty members to the “C’s”—as referred to by its attendees. For the Spring 2023 conference in Chicago, Illinois, Sanders, Neal, and Betz presented their research project.

Sanders expresses her gratitude for the Rhetoric and Composition Program’s consistent support of her research. She adds that the English department at large has also been instrumental in the progression of her academic pursuits.

Upon her return from C’s, Sanders continues to work on her dissertation, with guidance from the members of her doctoral committee. She looks forward to work closely with Neal and Browdy, as well as FSU English faculty members Associate Professor Rhea Lathan and Assistant Professor Mais Al-Khateeb. Tamara Bertrand Jones, who is Associate Professor of Higher Education in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at FSU, also is on her committee.

Katherine Grubb is an English-Editing, Writing, and Media major, with a minor in communication.

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