Ava Francesca Battocchio is an Information and Media doctoral student and University Enrichment Fellow at Michigan State University in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations, under the advisement of Dr. Kjerstin Thorson. Their course of study also includes a graduate certificate in Community Engagement, under the guidance of Dr. Diane Doberneck. Ava Francesca’s pronouns are they, them, theirs. They also go by their first name initials, “a f” for short.
Ava Francesca’s experience as a working-class, low-income, non-traditional student shapes their desire to be a community-engaged researcher and public scholar. After three attempts at community college, in two states, they earned their associate degree in 2015 from Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport, Connecticut. In 2017, Ava Francesca moved from Duluth, Minnesota to Chicago and was Loyola University Chicago’s School of Communication’s first dual-degree student. Working their way through school, they concurrently completed their Master of Science in Global Strategic Communication (2020) and Bachelor of Arts in Advertising (2019).
Ava Francesca hopes to use their experience to open a discussion about the value of both formal and informal education along with shedding light on why it can be difficult for people without a traditional educational journey to find their way to graduation.
Their research explores the entanglement of civic infrastructure, information accessibility, and media ecology. The focus of this work is on rural, remote, and deindustrialized communities, primarily in the Upper Great Lakes and Canada, with an emphasis on socio-spatial and cultural-historical perspectives.
Ava Francesca is interested in how the built environment influences communication practices, like information seeking and sharing. Specifically, they are curious how one’s concept of “home” and changing community structure shape social identity, both individual and collective. In turn, they want to understand how people come to construct individualized media ecosystems, both online and offline, to share news and civic information about what is going on in their communities.
Ava Francesca’s research interests are a direct result of the time that they spent in former single-industry communities in the Lake Superior region, including Northwestern Ontario, along with growing up in a small rural town. During that time, They observed a relationship between history, industrial infrastructure, and current community narratives, often manifesting in political discussion. Overall, they became interested in understanding how people make sense of their world, through observing, participating, and listening.
Recent work that Ava Francesca has been a part of includes research on digital civic infrastructure in the Great Lakes, along with work on the quantity and quality of news and political content that young Michigander adults were exposed to on social media sites, leading up to, during, and following the 2020 US Presidential Election.
Previous creative and activist work includes collaborating with and coordinating distribution for a feminist Zine collective, designing, producing, and managing a size-inclusive, femme vintage reproduction apparel line, and several years, on-call overnight, as a crisis hospital advocate for survivors of sexual violence.
When I’m is not studying, my interests include volunteering as a public history and industrial heritage tour guide(think “grains and trains”), social activism, rail-fanning, biking, alternative print media, sewing, and photography. I also spend a lot of time with 2 sassy geriatric cats and 95 plants… thankfully, not the other way around. I also love having picnics with my pandemic pod.
I am always open to talking about my research or discussing ways to collaborate. Also, if you are a non-traditional student wondering where the “didn’t have any post-secondary education until really late and now are in a PhD program” corner of Academic Twitter is, feel free to shoot me a message. I’m wondering the same thing. The best ways to connect are through “Contact.”