Cassandra Ryder

Your Name: Cassandra Ryder

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Please introduce yourself: Who are you and what are your research/teaching/activist interests?
I am a third-year doctoral student studying interpersonal communication, with a special interest in romantic relationship communication. I have always been fascinated by how romantic relationships are formed, developed, and maintained, and I especially love to share relational communication theories with. My current research interests are dating in general, but especially (bad) first dates and online dating. Recently, I have also begun to look more into how virtual reality can help attraction and romantic relationships develop.

What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about making theories and research within interpersonal communication accessible to those outside of academia. bell hooks wrote about how academic literature and research are meaningless unless they can be used in everyday conversation with people outside of higher education, and this principle helps keep me committed to various projects that help lower or weaken the boundaries of the academy. 

What does transformation mean to you?
Transformation means having a clearly defined outlook that differs before and after a certain experience. For example, I always tell my students that communication classes have the potential to forever change how you see and move through the world. Learning how to identify and implement communication theory and skills can help us understand how much more successful, meaningful, and transformative our relationships and lives can be after accessing this knowledge. 

What do you value most about the Transformation Project?
I have deeply appreciated learning and connecting with my peers and professors in a more relaxed environment, away from the stress of the classroom, grades, and assignments. I have had some incredibly enlightening and productive brainstorming sessions at various events and meetings with other members that have led to some rewarding research collaborations and new ways to grow as a teacher. And of course, any organization that offers free coffee at their events is always very valued by me! 

How has the Transformation Project supported you and your work in the past?
I have been incredibly fortunate to have been awarded both a Transformation Project seed grant, and the Herberger Communication Fellowship. With these funds, I was able to purchase interview transcription materials, travel to Paris to present research at the International Communication Association conference and will use the remaining funds to invest in a podcast I have recently launched where I analyze bad date stories through the lens of interpersonal communication theory and research. 

In what ways do you want to transform the future?
Ideally, I would love to help communication classes be offered to students earlier than in college. Creating a space for students in grade school or high school to begin developing critical self-awareness surrounding communication with their families and family can allow students to access the transformative properties of communication earlier in their life, and hopefully, make more informed and healthy communicative choices. Also, I would love to help individuals have better, healthier, and more exciting experiences with online dating, as I truly believe that online dating is a wonderful way to create meaningful connections and relationships. 

What is your favorite dessert (and can you share a recipe for it)?
Cupcake cones! Fill up flat bottom ice cream cones with the cupcake filling of your choice (my personal favorite is Funfetti!). Bake in the oven, and then once cooled top with the icing of your choice (I recommend Rainbow Chip frosting!).