Dr. Hawkins received her Ph.D. in journalism and mass communication from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, along with a minor in Latin American and Iberian Studies. She previously graduated from Brigham Young University in communications with an emphasis in journalism and Arizona State University, with a masters in mass communication. Her dissertation focused on the development of the Internet in Chile and included a pioneering study of online democratic communication at a Chilean digital newspaper. Subsequent work looked at community media in Venezuela and Internet development broadly in Latin America. She has taught many different courses over the years, and especially enjoys international communication and comparative media classes. Her current research focuses on mitigating the negative effects of populist communication and investigating the spaces and possibilities for local democratic communication. Dr. Hawkins stepped out of academic life for a number of years to focus on her family. She is married to political scientist Kirk Hawkins and is the proud mother of four brilliant children. Dr. Hawkins insists it is much harder to rear children than get a Ph.D. or teach at a university.