Communication Major Nick Joyner (C’19) Wins Thouron Award

Nick Joyner (C’19), a senior at the University of Pennsylvania, is one of this year’s recipients of the Thouron Award.

A graduate exchange program between the United Kingdom and Penn, Thouron scholarships provide funding for postgraduate study abroad. Each year, as many as 10 students from the UK receive Thouron awards to attend graduate schools at Penn, and as many as eight Penn seniors receive scholarships to attend a graduate school of their choosing in the UK.

Thanks to the Thouron Award, Joyner will study Visual Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London, beginning this Fall.

“Nick is one of those students who is just a joy to teach,” says Litty Paxton, Annenberg Associate Dean for Undergraduate Students. “He is whip-smart, clearly, but more importantly he is a creative, imaginative thinker whose insatiable appetite for learning takes him in 101 interesting directions. I couldn’t be more thrilled that his next destination is my hometown, London, and on the very same scholarship that brought me to Penn 26 years ago. He’ll be an outstanding ambassador for Penn and for the Thouron Award.”

Nick Joyner and collaborators at Cannes Film Festival
Joyner and collaborators attended the Cannes Film Festival.

Joyner arrived at Penn knowing he was interested in studying media, and began taking Communication classes at Annenberg his freshman year. He first discovered his interest in filmmaking the summer after his sophomore year. Through the Real Arts@Penn program, he landed a position as a production assistant on Will You Be My Neighbor?, the 2018 feature length documentary about Fred Rogers.

This experience inspired him to double major in Cinema Studies and Communication, and he has combined courses from across the university to create a program of study tailored to his interests. For his senior thesis, he is researching how LGBT-focused nonfiction films from the mid to late 1980s paved the way for the New Queer Cinema movement in the early 1990s.

Nick Joyner presenting in class
Joyner presents his final project in COMM 310: Communication Research Experience.

Joyner is looking forward to building on his undergraduate work through the Visual Anthropology program at Goldsmiths. There, his coursework will require him to both create documentary films and to write academic papers interrogating the theory and methods behind them.

“Visual Anthropology is a really cool field,” Joyner says. “We won’t just be making documentaries, but we’ll also be considering the history of the field of anthropology. How have we depicted humans throughout the history of film? How can we be better in the future?”

He plans to explore untold LGBT histories and spotlight current issues the community is facing, and he sees his grounding in media studies, cultural studies, and cinema studies as an excellent backdrop to what he’ll learn during his master’s coursework.

Nick Joyner and classmates during Penn Media Scholars in China
Joyner participated in Penn Media Scholars in China in 2017.

Joyner is also excited about the possibilities London holds, even though he’s never been to the UK before. He cites his experience with Penn Media Scholars in China, led by Annenberg Professor Guobin Yang, as one of his motivations for doing his graduate work abroad.

In addition to his studies, Joyner has been involved in a variety of activities during his time at Penn. He served as Editor-in-Chief of 34th Street Magazine, Penn’s arts and culture publication; as a Penn chair for IvyQ, an annual Ivy League LGBT conference; and as a member of the Philomathean Society, the oldest American literary society. He is also a student mentor at the Penn LGBT Center.