Dr. Michele Strano
Department of Communication Studies
Inspired by her high-school English teacher, Dr. Michele Strano was convinced that one day she would enter the same profession. Encouraged by many adults who were looking at her strengths in science and math, she started down the more “lucrative” path of chemical engineering. A month into her first semester, she realized it was the wrong path for her and switched to advertising where she could utilize her writing skills. However, the advertising courses were not what caught her attention; rather, the required media and society classes ignited a passionate curiosity. The idea of using scientific methods to study the effects of media messages intrigued her and it was not long before she headed to graduate school.
Blending her interests in writing, teaching, math and science, Strano is currently focusing her research on the social media site Facebook. A former student, Jill Wattai, wanted to do an honors project that involved interviewing people about the photo albums they post on Facebook. Since Strano was planning on doing an interview project of her own on profile images, the two pooled their resources combining interview guides and collecting data together. Following Wattai’s graduation in 2009, the two presented a paper, “Covering Your Face on Facebook: Managing Identity through Untagging and Deletion,” at the Cultural Attitudes towards Technology and Culture international conference in Vancouver, Canada in June 2010. Strano also presented “Self-Presentation through Facebook Profile Images” at the organization’s conference in Nîmes, France in 2008.
One of the things Strano loves most about teaching is the opportunity to develop lifelong relationships with students. “The community feel of Bridgewater allows us to develop true trust and care between ourselves and our students,” says Strano. While attending the wedding of two alumni, she and her husband had dinner with another alumnus and his girlfriend. Throughout dinner, Strano and the alumnus kept up a constant banter about memories while he was a student as well as what each was currently doing. Not long afterward, she received an email from the alumnus who said his girlfriend, who attends a large university, commented on how lucky he is to have close relationships with the professors.
Strano utilizes many ways to keep in contact with students – Facebook, email, homecoming and weddings. In addition, she has invited alumni back to campus to participate in club meetings and has organized a class trip to a television and radio station with the help of an alumna who works in broadcasting.
Strano earned a B.A. degree in advertising from Pennsylvania State University and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in communication from the University of Pennsylvania.