The Reporter recently sat down with MSU’s Jesse Marden for an interview. Here’s what we learned:
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Manhattan, Kansas, home of Kansas State University. It’s a great town, but after being there from kindergarten through college, it was definitely a nice change of scenery to move to Minnesota.
What kind of degree do you have and/or what are you working toward?
I received my Bachelor of Sciences in Communication Studies from Kansas State University in December 2013. Since then I’ve been here at Minnesota State University, Mankato working on my Master of Arts in Communication Studies with a certificate in Gender and Women’s Studies, which will be finished this May.
Since I have been here, I was also able to finish by Bachelor of Sciences in Political Science from Kansas State University online in December of 2015. Once I complete my Master of Arts in Communication Studies and certificate in Gender and Women’s Studies here at Minnesota State University, Mankato in May of 2016, I’ll be moving on to the University of Utah to complete my Ph.D. in Communication Studies with another certificate in Gender and Women’s Studies.
What is one of your biggest goals right now?
I’m sure if you ask most Master’s students during the last four or five weeks of school we’ll all say we have the same goal: To finish writing our thesis! Aside from that though, I would really like to write and publish a book in the Communication Studies discipline within the next two or three years.
What has been your largest post-grad challenge so far?
Considering that I completed my undergraduate degree in my hometown, I would say one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced since then is not having my family around all the time. While I moved out of my parents’ house my freshman year of college, they were always right down the street if I was sad, broke, or just needed mom to help with dinner and laundry. Being an eight hour drive away from them now has been pretty difficult.
What is a topic that you’re passionate about?
Most of the research that I do in school deals with race, gender, and sexuality, so I would have to say that I’m passionate about all of those things. Something that has come up recently in the media that relates to all of that which I am very passionate about is the #BlackLivesMatter movement. I’m also very passionate about feminism, and I love that more pop divas are bringing attention to it. I guess one more thing I would have to add to that list is hate crimes. The number of hate crimes, specifically against transgender women of color in the United States, is an appalling problem that very few people actually know about.
What’s your favorite part of being a graduate TA?
My favorite part of being a Graduate TA is getting to design course content and come up with assignments. I feel very lucky, because not all Graduate TAs get the freedom that I do to teach their classes how they want to. I absolutely love being able to think back on all of my favorite assignments from when I was an undergraduate, and the teachers who made me love Communication Studies, and figure out how I can incorporate those assignments and be more like those teachers.
What do you do in your free time?
Well, sadly, graduate students don’t have that much free time. However when I’m not grading, reading, or writing, I absolutely love board games, bowling, and concerts. I haven’t been able to go to as many concerts as I would have liked since I’ve lived here, but I did get to see Angel Haze a few months ago, which was definitely one of the best live shows I’ve ever been too. I’ve also got Beyoncé tickets for the end of May, so I’m fulfilling a life-long dream right there!
What are you looking forward to this summer?
Live music! Kansas City is about two hours away from my hometown, and they always host great festivals during the summer. Alabama Shakes are headlining a festival there in July, and even though I’ve seen them once before, I have to go again! Brittany Howard is the most incredible live singer and guitarist. I’m also looking forward to having a few weeks to hang out at my mom’s house and see my old college friends before having to move to Utah. Although the first couple weeks in Utah before school starts will be pretty great too; I’m excited to live around all those mountains and find some more outdoor hobbies like hiking and skiing.
Finally, what shows are you binge watching at the moment?
I absolutely love documentaries, so I just finished “Making of a Murderer.” Before that I watched all of “Jessica Jones” in about two days. I’m trying not to start any new shows while I’m finishing my thesis, but as soon as I’m done I need to catch up on all of my Shondaland shows like “How to Get Away with Murder” and “Scandal.” I’ll also probably end up rewatching all of “VEEP,” because it is hands-down the most intelligent, hilarious show on television right now.