Kiki van Essen

Your Name: Kiki van Essen    

Pronouns: She/Her

Please introduce yourself: Who are you and what are your research/teaching/activist interests?
Within the field of communication studies, my research has gone many directions. I identify as an interpersonal and intercultural scholar, but I have conducted research on international students, critical intercultural topics, and most recently, I have conducted research on Communication scholars leaving the academy. I am currently focused on establishing my career as a UX (user experience) researcher.

What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about engaging in conversations about non-academic careers. There is still a lot to be learned about the knowledge Communication scholars can offer to non-academic audiences and I think our knowledge is still underutilized. User Experience Research has been a career direction I have found incredibly interesting and am learning more about every day. 

What does transformation mean to you?
Transformation to me is two-sided, on one hand, I believe it means to critically examine the systems we are currently in and re-envision them. It also means that we should remain critical of the direction we are heading. Transformation to me is not in theory but in action. I believe transformation ultimately means is making the world a better place.

What do you value most about the Transformation Project?
I value the ability to stay up to date with current projects others are engaging in. It is exciting to see the scholarship produced and made possible by the Transformation Project. The grants and fellowships provided by the Transformation Project have led to incredibly interesting and meaningful projects.

How has the Transformation Project supported you and your work in the past?
I have been fortunate to receive the Herberger Fellowship for the work I conduct on transitioning to non-academic careers. I have worked hard to establish mentorships among graduate students to explore career options that are not the traditional professor roles. This fellowship allowed me to conduct more research on why Communication Scholars are leaving the academy and what the academy can do to better support this transition. 

In what ways do you want to transform the future?
I want to contribute to make the transition to non-academic careers easier for Communication scholars to come. Making a big leap of faith to leave the trusted ivory tower and explore non-academic roles is scary and, in many ways, still stigmatized. I hope that I can contribute to educating people about other options.

What is your favorite dessert (and can you share a recipe for it)?
Although it is not the season (which runs from August-December 5th) I really enjoy making and eating a Dutch cookie named “gevulde speculaas” (filled speculoos). The recipe can be found here.