PhD candidate examines the social media of political leaders

Monique Kampherm 

PhD Candidate | English

With four degrees under her belt so far, Monique Kampherm is excited to add a doctoral degree from Waterloo to her already impressive resume. A PhD candidate in English Language and Literature, Monique’s interdisciplinary research focuses on real-world political issues and how social media is impacting debates and democracy. 

Monique in the library

"Combing rhetorical studies with political elections and social media is a trifecta of a winning combination for research,” says Monique. 

By analyzing how campaign leaders portray themselves online – as well as how they represent others – we can see how social media is shaping leaders’ debates and affecting our political climate, she explains. “In democracies, the knowledge and beliefs of voters determine the outcomes of elections, both of which are substantially shaped by media.” 
Monique’s area of research isn’t without its misconceptions. Monique notes that both inside and outside academia, the notion of rhetoric is not well-understood. As she puts it, rhetoric is the art of persuasion, which applies to all aspects of life and communication. It also provides a valuable framework for critical thinking. Monique hopes that her contribution to the field will provide Canadian government policy makers, media organizations, and independent regulatory election agencies, the tools to identify the ways digital media influences voters. 

Monique Kampherm

A seasoned expert in post-secondary education, Monique began her academic journey at the University of Western Ontario with a Bachelor’s degree and a Master of Arts in Political Science before pursuing a second Master’s degree in Multimedia Journalism at Bournemouth University in England, and a third Master’s degree in English at the University of Waterloo. She also has extensive industry experience and has worked in both policy advising and journalism. When she made the decision to return to school to pursue a PhD, Waterloo was the perfect fit for combining her passions and came highly recommended by department chairs she has worked with at York, Sheridan, and Seneca. “Waterloo’s program offerings compliment my previous real-world experience and academic expertise, providing new ways to approach my research.”  
As a doctoral student at Waterloo, Monique has been nationally recognized for her research, teaching, and writing. She has earned the prestigious SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship alongside Ontario Graduate Scholarships and President’s Graduate Scholarships from Waterloo.  She won Waterloo’s 2021 Independent Graduate Instructor Award for Excellence in Teaching, was named RhetCanada’s Graduate Paper Prize Winner by the Canadian Society for the Study of Rhetoric and has been published in the peer-reviewed journal, Rhetor.  
Monique credits her doctoral supervisor, Dr. Randy Allen Harris, as instrumental to her success. “His guidance, teachings, encouragement, and support throughout my doctoral journey, have helped me to become a better scholar. I am so fortunate to have him as my mentor.”  
With the end of her PhD in sight, Monique is open to all opportunities. “What is important to me is that my PhD gives me the opportunity to work in an area that contributes to the health of our democracy and the future of our citizens.”