Stephanie Hartzell

What fears or anxieties did you have about going to college?

I started my educational journey at a community college and, as the first person in my family to attend a four-year university, I was worried that I wouldn't be successful as a transfer student. When I started at Fresno State, I had no idea how to navigate such a big campus, how to access the resources I needed, or how to find a community. I also grew up on the east coast, so I didn't have a strong support system in California and I was worried that I would never feel like I belonged. I was fortunate to have professors who mentored and guided me and classmates who helped to build a community where we could all support each other. 


  • PhD, Rhetoric & Culture, University of Colorado Boulder; MA, Communication, Fresno State; BA, Communication, Fresno State

First and foremost, know that you belong here. It can be scary to be in a new place with a bunch of new people, but remember that we were all new here at one time. Don't be afraid to ask questions and to push yourself outside your comfort zone. There are so many amazing opportunities and resources here at CSULB--take advantage of as many as possible. Joining student organizations is a great way to meet new people and make friends. When it comes to your classes, do your best and learn as much as you can, but don't get caught up striving for perfection (perfection is impossible). College is a journey...try to be open to the unexpected places that this journey might take you!

I love being outside, especially at the beach. Walking is my favorite way to explore my local community, and I'm a big fan of using public transportation whenever possible. I really enjoy trying different food and finding great local restaurants. Most of all, I enjoy spending time with my wife and our two cats!

  1. A laptop (with never-ending battery life and built-in wifi)
  2. A boat (with plenty of fuel)
  3. Unlimited food and water

I've been teaching since I began graduate school. Before that, I held a variety of customer service jobs throughout my time as an undergraduate and high school student. I also have experience as a food-and-housing-insecure student, and I know how difficult it can be to succeed in school when you're trying hard to survive. CSULB's Basic Needs Program is a fantastic resource!

My research focuses on critical/cultural communication related to race, racism, and antiracism. I regularly teach undergraduate classes in Rhetorical Theory (COMM 300), Communication Criticism (COMM 301), Rhetoric of Social Movements and Protest (COMM 415), and I occasionally teach a graduate class in Communication Criticism with a focus on rhetoric, power, and identity (COMM 635).