MA in Communication Faculty




Headshot of Veronica Hefner.

Veronica Hefner

MA in Communication Program Director, Associate Professor

Veronica Hefner (Ph.D., University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 2011) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication and the Director of the Master of Arts in Communication program. As a teacher-scholar, Dr. Hefner explores the uses and effects of traditional and digital media within the contexts of interpersonal relationships and body image. She has an expert knowledge of statistics, data analysis, audience effects, research methods, instrument construction, creation and maintenance of relationships, and uses of mass and social media. In addition, Dr. Hefner has extensive experience teaching research methods and media and strategic writing, as well as mass, interpersonal, health, campaigns, and strategic communication courses.

Headshot of Makiko Imamura

Makiko Imamura


Makiko Imamura (Ph.D., University of Kansas, 2011) is a Professor in the Department of Communication. She was born and raised in Japan and earned her B.A. in English from Tsuda College in Tokyo. Continuing her education, she earned both her MA and Ph.D. from the University of Kansas where she also taught public speaking, intercultural communication, and research methods for 5 years. She joined SMC in 2011. Her area of research is intercultural communication from intergroup and interpersonal perspectives, focusing on the US American-East Asian context. Her scholarship, primarily guided by intergroup contact theory, communication accommodation theory, and the common ingroup identity model, explores how cultural adaptation and cultural group membership influence and are influenced by various aspects of communication and how interpersonal communication and relational quality in an intercultural context are associated with intergroup attitudes and stereotypes. On weekends, she enjoys dancing ballet.

Photo of Ellen M. Rigsby

Ellen M. Rigsby


Ellen M. Rigsby (Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 2001) is a Professor in the Department of Communication.  She was born in Nashville, TN and raised there and in Philadelphia, PA.  Dr. Rigsby earned her B.A. in Political Science at The Johns Hopkins University.  Following a gap year in New Orleans, she moved to California to pursue a Ph.D. in Rhetoric, and earned her Master’s in that topic in 1994.  She joined the Saint Mary’s faculty in the Fall of 2000.  Her research interests focus on how people imagine government in texts they read and write:  she examines popular culture texts, literature, public address, political philosophy and legal texts.  She also frequently teaches in the Collegiate Seminar Program.  In addition to her work at Saint Mary’s, Dr. Rigsby is an avid runner and practitioner of yoga, and an occasional instructor at the Prison University Project at San Quentin.

Photo of Aaron Sachowitz

Aaron Sachowitz


Aaron Sachowitz (Ph.D., University of Iowa, 2009) is Professor of Media Technologies and Culture at Saint Mary’s College of California. Born and raised in Berkeley, California, he earned a B.A. in Media Studies from Pomona College in Southern California before moving to New Zealand to live and work for a year prior to graduate school. He joined the Saint Mary’s faculty in 2009, focusing his research on the intersection of media technologies and cultural representation. A proponent of service and experiential learning, Aaron has developed local and international courses on food justice, as well as study trips to Japan, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and India. With John Drew (Adelphi University), Aaron launched Historias de Cacao in 2018, a Real Food Stories project aimed at gathering stories of cacao and chocolate in Nicaragua. When not working, Aaron is a homesteader, and can be found fermenting anything from pickles to kimchi to beer, cooking for his family, or gardening in his backyard.

Photo of Scott M. Schonfeldt-Aultman

Scott M. Schönfeldt-Aultman


Scott M. Schönfeldt-Aultman (Ph.D., University of California, Davis, 2004) is a Professor in the Department of Communication. Born in Statesboro, GA, he grew up in Shelbyville, KY, Elberton, GA, and Seaford, DE. He earned a B.A. in Speech/Communication from the University of Georgia and a Master of Divinity degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. After two years of an unfinished Ph.D. (focusing on feminist theology) at McGill University, he earned his M.A. in Speech and Communication Studies at San Francisco State University prior to receiving his Ph.D. in Cultural Studies at Davis. He began lecturing at SMC in 2001 before becoming an Associate Professor in 2004. His past research has addressed white South African rhetorics, while more recently collaborating on projects related to hip-hop, drag, and queer theory. His current projects concern whiteness, race, gender, and sexuality. When not engaged in academic activities, he might be found cooking, attempting to play guitar, researching family history/genealogy, traveling, scuba diving, or brewing beer.

Samantha Joyce with her Jan Term Capoeira class students.

Samantha Noguiera Joyce


Samantha Nogueira Joyce is a Brazilian journalist and Associate Professor of Global Communication at Saint Mary’s College of California. She studies media history, theory, and criticism with concentrations in cultural studies, critical theory, Latin American and Brazilian Media and Cultural Studies. Her research covers a range of contemporary as well as historical topics in order to understand the many ways in which people’s identities are constituted by and through the media, especially television. In addition to her book Brazilian Telenovelas and the Myth of Racial Democracy her research has appeared on International Journal of CommunicationBrazilian Journalism ResearchRumoresTelevision AntiheroinesWOMEN BEHAVING BADLY IN CRIME AND PRISON DRAMA, and others.

School and Department Information

Veronica Hefner, Ph.D.
Program Director, MA in Communication

Collin Skeen
Assistant Director of Admissions and Recruitment