Student Spotlight: DaMarcus Snipes – GSC Student researches impact of COVID-19 on Minority businesses


Damarcus Snipes is currently an online graduate student in FIU Communication’s Global Strategic Communications (GSC) program who has been working diligently during the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently situated in Atlanta, Snipes is using his GSC skills to work as a health communicator for Cobb & Douglas Public Health, an online resource for promoting and protecting the health and safety of the local community. Given the start of the 2020 hurricane season, Snipes will be collaborating with Professor Maria Elena Villar to use a small grant to research the impact of COVID-19 and hurricanes collectively on minority-owned businesses.

CARTA News was able to catch up with Snipes to learn more about his research and his career as a GSC student.

Why did you choose to enter the GSC program?
When I was deciding on a graduate program, I wanted to get an elevated perspective of the communications industry. The Global Strategic Communications program offered courses I was interested in, enhancing my knowledge and providing that international element I always wanted to explore.

What inspired you to get involved with researching the impact of COVID-19 and hurricanes?
I currently work at Cobb & Douglas Public Health in the metro Atlanta area as a communications specialist. Working in this position has continued to expose me to the health disparities and emergency responses that are a part of the community. I have always been interested in research since my undergraduate years, so this was the perfect opportunity.

Tell us more about your collaboration grant with Professor Villar and the research you’d be conducting.
I reached out to Professor Villar about my interest in applying for a research opportunity through the Social Science Research Council [an independent international non-profit organization promoting research in social science and related fields]. She was very open to helping me and after our initial conversation, I think I convinced her that I was serious about making it happen. Believe it or not, I had to complete a literature review in one night. We developed a proposal focusing on minority-owned businesses and their impact on community resilience during natural disasters.

How has the GSC program helped you in your involvement with the pandemic?
The GSC program has continued to enhance how I perform within my career. The resources I continue to receive help me elevate my duties and pursue a deeper understanding of best practices in the field. With COVID-19 creating the “new normal” we see now, GSC has helped me use tools that streamline my day-to-day.

What impact do you hope to have with this grant and research efforts?
I strive to advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion for minorities. There are so many inequalities and disparities that continue to impact our communities. It is under-researched and discussed among decision-makers. I want to continue to develop the key data that is needed to share the perspective and needs of our communities.

What advice would you give to current students about pursuing a career in Communication?
Being a communicator is about shedding a light on those that have been silenced or cannot put words to what they have endured. If you can write well and are willing to learn, you will go far!

To learn more about the online GSC master’s program; click here.

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