Charity Barton (BA ’18) has been busy her whole life. As a TU student, she was a member of the TUTV Media Lab, the Student Association, the Association of Black Collegians, La Tertulia Spanish Club and the cheer team and was a work-study in the Kendall College of Arts & Sciences’ Media Studies Department. “It’s weird when I get to be home before 10 p.m. The other day I got home at 5 p.m., and I didn’t know what to do with myself!”
Charity’s life hasn’t slowed since graduation. She moved to Los Angeles to work for City Year, eventually moving back to work for their Tulsa branch as an executive assistant. It was then that Barton decided to go back to school to get her master’s degree in mass communications. Eventually Barton, no longer at City Year, began taking stock of her skills, interests and passions to figure out where to go next. “My cousin calls them the ‘breadcrumbs of your life.’ So, you look past all the things you have done before to find where the bread is and what you need to be working toward.” The breadcrumbs led her to public speaking, storytelling and being a communicator. Ultimately, though, her skills and passions led her right back to The University of Tulsa.
In 2021, Barton became an emcee for TU Athletics and was eventually offered the opportunity to live host TU’s Giving Day in 2022. She walked around campus, giving tours of buildings like Oliphant Hall and the Collins College of Business, where she met and talked with Dean Kathy Taylor. At the end of the day, she went back to the college to ask the dean’s office about the upcoming TEDx Talk, in which she dreamed of participating. Shortly after, Barton was surprised to receive an email from Taylor requesting an interview, leading her to accept a position as director of college engagement and events.
This has been Barton’s first year working full-time with the Collins College of Business, coaching the cheer team and getting her master’s degree. She has received an incredible amount of support from her co-workers and community. According to Barton, Taylor has created a work environment that allows her to balance her full-time work while still prioritizing school, and her co-workers in the dean’s office and the cheer team have been encouraging. “Make sure you finish, make sure you finish, make sure you finish,” co-workers emphasized.
And that TEDx Talk she asked the dean’s office about? She presented on March 30. Her talk, centered on her master’s thesis, addresses the impacts of media literacy and its connection to overall health. According to Barton, there is evidence that suggests that media literacy contributes to a healthier lifestyle. “I go into a key component that critical media literacy can lend to us, but I don’t want to spoil anything. So come and listen to the TED Talk and find out what that is!”
Barton first learned about media literacy and agenda-setting in her communications classes with Professor Ben Peters. “That’s when I realized I loved communications because it gives you the language to describe what’s going on and how we are interacting with the media,” she said. Her TU education has profoundly influenced Barton’s life and how she views the world. “It’s actually the only way I see the world. It is my lens now. … If you look at the world and don’t see media, you aren’t looking very well.”