India Hagen-Gates (third from left) pictured with family.
India Hagen-Gates (third from left) pictured with family.

Hagen-Gates goes from aspiring archeologist to aspiring doctor of communication

In her youth, just outside of the city, in a suburb of Northern Virginia, India Hagen-Gates dreamed of being a cowboy and owning horses and of being an archeologist, just like Dr. Indiana Jones. In the area she lived, she was able to experience the Smithsonian and many museums such as the American History Museum, the Anacostia Community Museum, and the Freer Gallery of Art.

As India started thinking about what to study in college, she knew that her dreams of exploring the Temple of Doom were not realistic in this non-fantasy world. However, because of her love of writing and telling stories, the idea of helping an organization by telling their story was a great deal of interest to her, so she decided that Communication studies was exactly what she wanted to study.

When India decided that she wanted to receive her Ph.D., she sought advice from many of her trusted professors from James Madison University. One of her professors, SIU alumna Dr. Alison Bodkin, recommend that she apply to the doctoral degree program offered at Southern Illinois University of Carbondale. After her acceptance, she spoke to several students and faculty about the program and decided that she would fit in this program perfectly.

India has learned that teaching has been one of the most rewarding experiences she has had while in the doctoral degree program. Another comes from her own classrooms, “A rewarding experience is to see the class culture develop across a semester. I can remember one semester in which my students were increasingly collaborative and supportive of one another.” India says. Forming relationships with her students has also been one of her favorite parts of teaching. She has helped advise her students towards their own academic goals, encourage them to try new opportunities, and commit themselves to experiences outside of their comfort zones. She has loved seeing them succeed and grow as people.

India Hagen-Gates with a pie and her cat.
India Hagen-Gates with a pie and her cat.

Though she has loved her time teaching, she has experienced some challenges while getting her doctorate degree, such as the feeling of isolation, imposter syndrome, and self-doubt. India even praised the Communication Studies program by saying, “the Communication Studies program is supportive, open, and understanding. If someone communicates that they are doubting themselves or needing reassurance in any way, the rest of the program jumps to their aid.” She even combats these feelings by spending time with her 9-year-old cat, Poppy, and by reading tarot cards and using them as a meditative tool rather than a predictive tool.

Other than reading tarot cards, India spends her time watching the popular 2000’s T.V. show, One Tree Hill. She also uses any free time she has to work on crochet projects, sewing, making clay art, and painting. Though most of her hobbies take place inside, she also spends quite a deal of time outside in nature by taking hikes and going on runs.

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