Communication PhD student wins Outstanding Student Essay in Rhetoric Award

UWM Communication PhD student and 2021 master’s alumna Alexandra Parr Balaram uses Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” as a case in point in her award-winning essay.

Alexandra Parr Balaram (Communication PhD student) received the 2021 James L. Golden Outstanding Student Essay in Rhetoric Award from the National Communication Association (NCA) for her essay, "Rhetorical Altermobilities: Proposing a Framework for the Study of Discourse, Mobility and Resistance."

Learn about the Communication PhD program at UWM.

“Taking Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’ as a case in point,” reads the NCA website , “Parr Balaram’s essay proposes a framework for investigating the intersections of mobility, discourse, and resistance. Specifically, this essay illuminates the rhetorical processes linking physical to social movement and mobilization in the dynamic terrains of U.S. racial politics.”

She will be presented the award November 20 at NCA’s 107th Annual Convention in Seattle. The award is given annually “to encourage and support student research, focusing on the history, theory, or criticism of rhetoric,” according to the award page .

Last May, as a UWM master’s student, Parr Balaram earned the Central States Communication Association (CSCA) Cooper Award , presented annually at the CSCA conference to one master’s and one doctoral graduate teaching assistant in recognition of excellent teaching by a graduate student.


Mike Allen

At the same virtual conference, UWM Professor Mike Allen, on the faculty since 1989, was inducted into the CSCA Hall of Fame. “Hall of Fame membership is given to those who have been a member of CSCA for 25 years or more and who have contributed to the discipline of communication through meritorious scholarship, teaching/mentoring, participation at conventions, and service to the have been a member of CSCA for 25 years or more and have contributed to the discipline of communication through meritorious scholarship, teaching/mentoring, participation at conventions, and service to the association,” according to the CSCA website .

Previous Cooper Award recipients from UWM are PhD student and faculty associate Megan Orcholski in 2020 and then-master’s student Luke LeFebvre in 2003.

Deans, department chairs, or graduate program representatives can nominate someone for a Student Stories feature by sending either a link to a recent web page featuring the student’s accomplishment(s) or information about the student’s recent accomplishment(s) to peterh@uwm.edu.