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Our Proud Alumnus

We are pleased to announce our first Bachelor of Communication (BCOMN) graduate who has gone on to complete a PhD in Communication and Media Arts. Denise Mohan Tan completed the BCOMN program from Singapore on 5 October 2010 and was a University Medallist. Denise is certainly the first to go through her entire studies with the University of Newcastle.

On 8 February 2016, Denise was awarded with a Doctor of Philosophy. Her PhD is titled, ‘Towards a New Cultural Paradigm – Fashion Blogging as a Metamodern Practice’. Denise studied the rise of the fashion blogger, where she looked at how bloggers used digital media as a form of metamodern expression.

Prof Tony Scharito, from the University of Macau, examined Dr Tan’s thesis and he consistently praised the novel theoretical engagement and strong execution of the research. He complemented Dr Tan on how she ‘theoretically applied the concepts in a consistent and meticulous way’ and noted that she had demonstrated a clear, comprehensive and thorough understanding of the concepts and the issues involved in the theoretical area of Bourdieu’s forms of capital.

Join us as we congratulate Dr Denise Mohan Tan. She will definitely be a great ambassador. Congratulations!

View the news on Dr Denise Tan from the Newcastle Herald.

Interview with Dr Denise Tan

Q: What inspired you to pursue and complete your education with UON from a Bachelor degree to a PhD?

After Graduating with honours at UON Singapore, I worked in the PR industry before I did my PhD. Being the person who was sending bloggers free stuff for features, I wondered what some bloggers were doing better than others. At that time, a year into my job, I was notified that I won the university medal. That was when my honours supervisor, Dr Pia Aquilia sat me down and handed me the UON Research Higher Degree prospectus. I figured I could research best practices in digital engagement. I applied for an international scholarship and got it two months later. That’s how I went from undergrad and honours in the Bachelor of Communication at UON Singapore to a PhD in Communication and Media Arts in Newcastle.

Q: Tell us a bit more about your PhD research on fashion blogging, and how do you think this has impacted the industry and consumer behaviour?

I think the Internet has presented individuals with a great opportunity to become opinion leaders. Through my research, I found that people have become a bit jaded with traditional modes of advertising as we crave a more authentic and personal connection in the way we consume information. Bloggers bring that element of personalisation as it feels like you’re finding out about a product or trend through a friend. The fact is some of these bloggers, though not all, might have been paid to feature these products. Despite this awareness, fashion bloggers are still thriving. It is this tension between the authentic and the artificial that I studied. The bloggers who know how to negotiate this tension generally do quite well.

Q: How do you feel about your achievements being the first BCOMN graduate from Singapore who completes your entire studies with UON, and what would be your advice to current undergraduates?

Well, I am incredibly grateful to have this opportunity! The School of Design, Communication and IT was one of the most supportive environments I’ve ever been in. It was a pleasure being a tutor teaching into some of the undergrad courses in Newcastle as well! My advice to current undergraduates is to do your best as you never know where it can take you. Also, push out of your comfort zone. It’s the fastest way to grow.