Roscoe receives Cooper Award


South Dakota State University graduate teaching assistant Rikki Roscoe, who is pursuing a master’s degree in communication studies, received the Cooper Award at the Central States Communication Association annual conference April 3-7 in Omaha, Nebraska.

Roscoe, a native of Big Stone City, is the third South Dakota State student in five years to receive the award, which is named after former CSCA President Pamela J. Cooper. The CSCA presents the Cooper Award to one master’s level graduate teaching assistant and one doctorate level graduate teaching assistant each year. Hanna Holmquist won the award in 2015 and Ashley Pikel won in 2018.

The CSCA, which consists of the states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wisconsin, was founded in 1931 to promote the communication discipline in educational, scholarly and professional endeavors.

Roscoe worked for a year as a marketing coordinator for the park district of Grand Forks, North Dakota, before being told about South Dakota State’s graduate program in communication studies by a former professor.

“I always had interest in pursuing a master’s degree, but I never really thought about SDSU despite it being about an hour and a half away from my hometown,” said Roscoe, who was on the golf team while attending University of Minnesota-Crookston. “The stars kind of aligned after I got that email from my former professor. I checked into the program and the faculty, and it seemed perfect, so I applied.

“When I entered as an undergrad, I never thought of teaching or pursing academia,” Roscoe continued. “I had some incredible professors who made me fall in love with communication studies; that’s when I felt like it would be great to have that influence on students as well. I’m really passionate about what I’m teaching—communication, communication studies and public speaking—and their impact in society. I think they’re important no matter what major you’re in or what aspect of life, personal or professional, you’re in, too.”

Ironically, a communication breakdown didn’t alert Roscoe immediately of her award.

Roscoe was supposed to receive an email stating the result of her application but did not. While looking at the event’s program, she noticed she was listed as the award’s winner. She talked to Joshua Westwick, associate director of the School of Communication and Journalism, and then to Kelli Chromey, an instructor in the school, to see if it was real. After Chromey contacted someone at the Central States Communication Association, Roscoe received her congratulatory email.

“It’s exciting to have won it. It’s a really competitive award and I wasn’t expected to win. I really do care about going into the classroom making a difference and having an impact. It’s a rewarding award,” Roscoe said.

Following an internship working with health disparities in underserved populations with the South Dakota Department of Health in Pierre, Roscoe will start pursuing a doctorate degree this fall at The University of Missouri.