In reflecting on this journey, I’d like to share five key tips that have been important to my success in our program:
1. Talk to your professors. In this program, we are surrounded by professors who care so deeply about us as people, not just students – they are great resources. Ask them questions, go to office hours, and set up a time to just chat. They are not only missing the fun before class conversations like we are but also have some great advice when it comes to future careers.
2. Lean on your fellow students. In each class, we are surrounded by at least 20 other students. We are all there to learn more about the same topics. Finding people in a class to connect with has been so crucial in my journey. You can support each other through the class and as you launch into your future career.
3. Get involved. Seeing the abundance of student organizations and clubs at GVSU can be intimidating. I would hear about them and never think I could do it, but now, here I am. Honestly, I wish I would have joined sooner. In these organizations, you get to work with a community of people who have similar interests and goals. This has helped motivate me and given me my community.
4. Take a step back to be proud. When school, work, internships, and life are moving quickly, it can be hard to see everything you have done. My favorite way to appreciate the work I have accomplished is by printing out my first and current resumes for comparison. Just by looking at these, I can see how far I have come. If you want some more tips on how to be proud of your progress as an undergraduate, check out my last blog for GrandPR.
5. Try new things. This is the best time to find out what you like and do not like. Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Try a new tactic on a project. You might not know much about it but maybe you grow to live it.
To learn more about student clubs in the Ad and PR major program please visit:
Hey, I’m Liz! I received my B.A. in Strategic Communication from Cornerstone University in 2018 and I will be graduating with my M.S. in Communication from GVSU this semester. I am currently the Graduate Assistant to the School of Communications and I am also the VP of Communication for the Graduate Communication Association. Upon graduating I will start a B.A. in Arabic Language and Linguistics at the International Open University. I also plan to pursue a Ph.D. in the future related to international communication. My current academic interests and research focus on women’s studies, Middle Eastern studies, Muslim studies, and media studies. Essentially, I care a lot about the way Middle Eastern and Muslim women are portrayed in various media today. But let’s talk about the M.S. Com. program that so many of us have benefitted from and love. Here are my five takeaways from my years in the program…
Know why. Although graduate school is a lot of exploration and research, it is important to know why you’re in the program in the first place. Find what interests you. This is the best way to take advantage of all your classes. In almost every class that I took, even the elective, I always related the material back to my core interests and it made all the difference. It helped me think about my interests in new and innovative ways, it helped me settle on project topics, and it also made choosing my final research topic so much more simple.
Make a friend. It’s important to have a key person or two in the program with whom you can journey through classes together. It makes those long nights of research and paper-writing so much easier when you can rant to someone who understands!
Participate. First, go to class. I know it’s not always easy. We have lives. Sometimes we’re just burned out. But going to class not only means you are learning more but it also means you’re less anxious about what you’re missing. Second, speak up! Graduate classes are almost always formatted seminar-style. Don’t be the kid who never says anything…build rapport with your professors and peers by participating.
Find your flow. Finding a process that works for you in research and writing is something that grad school forces you to do. My writing process has become very specific. I research and type up quotes as I go – I make sure I am citing as I go too because this saves time – and then once I have finished this process, I open a separate document and begin writing the body of my paper. Having my pre-prepared document of quotes/citations makes all the difference for me.
Thank Alex. Alex is the king of the M.S. Com. program. A benevolent and sarcastic king. With his prompt email replies, quick solutions, and invaluable feedback, he really makes the program what it is. If you haven’t met Alex at Starbucks or encountered his yellow legal pad, I highly doubt that you are or ever were in the program.
Hi, I’m Sam! I received my Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from GVSU in 2017, and after taking a year off to focus on my career and plan some future goals, I will be graduating again this spring from the Master of Science in Communication program. I am the current president of the Graduate Communication Association and work at Spectrum Health as a project specialist. I have plans to continue to pursue higher education in the future through a doctoral program focused on Communication. Here are five takeaways from my years in the program:
Find what you like. I know this is easier said than done, but take every new thing you learn into consideration for your path. Notice the materials you make connections with and seek out more. I took an interpersonal communication class from community college on a whim, when I was young and still undecided with what I wanted to do with my life. Curiosity can open you up to the life you’re meant to have.
Do the work. Read as much as you can, even if you don’t want to. Talk about what you read with someone (in class or otherwise). The more you read, study, and explore, the more you’ll be able to understand what you like – and what you don’t. Also, I’m not just talking about reading for your classes, reading for pleasure is part of what keeps me sane during the bustle of the semester. Currently reading: “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”
Get cozy & appreciate yourself. I find coziness and comfort VITAL for success. Over time, I have tried to set up my ideal study space and make studying part of my self-care practice. It becomes so much easier to incorporate study into your life when it comes with soft pillows, multi-colored pens, and nice candles. Putting in the effort is hard enough, so you don’t need to be hard on yourself. Seek out and revel in delights, both large and small. Finally, pet all the dogs you have a chance to.
Ask questions. It’s okay to not know things, that’s why you’re here. Ask your professors, your classmates, your co-workers, anyone. Listen, discuss, ask more, repeat.
Do it for yourself. Although some people may face external pressures around attending college, I think I started to be most successful when I realized I wanted to do it for me. Education is expensive, so treat it like an all-you-can-eat-buffet.
I’m Jeannine! After earning my B.A. in Communication Studies from Grand Valley in December 2018, I decided I wasn’t done learning and enrolled in GV’s M.S. Com. program, which I started in January 2019. I’m the Graduate Director of the Speech Lab, where I’ve found mentorship, opportunity, confidence, and a sense of passion that some people spend their entire lives searching for. In addition to my borderline unhealthy obsession with my job, I’m also the Vice President of the Graduate Communication Association here at Grand Valley! I’m graduating from the M.S. Com. program in December 2020, a date that is coming up far too quickly for my liking. Here are some of the most important things I’ve learned during my time in the program:
Graduate school can be for everyone. I spent a long time believing that I wasn’t good enough for grad school. Once I started, though, I realized my program was a perfect fit for me and I’ve actually done much better than I did in undergrad! Don’t let fear and insecurity hold you back from getting what you want.
If you love what you’re learning, it won’t feel like work. It’s no secret that graduate school is a lot of work, but my time in the program has flown by because I genuinely love my classes. Sharing classes with peers who love communication studies as much as I do has been a really empowering experience for me.
Take advantage of your resources. As an undergraduate, I was usually too nervous to visit my professor’s office hours. Now, though, I know that faculty members are a wealth of knowledge, support, and experience. I make a conscious effort to build relationships with my professors and appreciate knowing that we trust and respect one another.
Get comfortable with the uncomfortable. The first time I was assigned a writing response on a reading that may as well have been written in a foreign language, I was certain that I was doomed. It’s really not fun––and even a little scary––to feel like you’re in over your head. While anyone can throw their hands up and decide they aren’t smart enough, it takes grit to decide that you’ll read that article again and again until it makes sense (even if you have to Google every other word).
Take time to be proud of yourself. Grad school can be a whirlwind of homework, coffee, and (hopefully minimal) mental breakdowns. It’s so, so important that you take time to pat yourself on the back. Having a master’s degree is a special thing that no one can take away from you, and you deserve to celebrate your successes.
AD/PR ALUMNA PROMOTED TO PRESIDENT/CEO OF CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Brandy Henderson Miller, an Ad/PR alumna, will serve as president/CEO of the Ludington & Scottville Area Chamber of Commerce, effective Feb. 1. You can read more in the Manistee News Advocate.
SOC ALUMNA MARISA KWIATKOWSKI JOINS USA TODAY
IndyStar reporter and 2018 SoC Distinguished Alumna-in-Residence Marisa Kwiatkowski has accepted a position as an investigative reporter at USA TODAY. Marisa gained national attention for her role in breaking the story on the Larry Nassar/USA Gymnastics scandal.
GRANDPR FEATURED IN HOLLAND SENTINEL
GrandPR, GVSU’s student-run PR firm, was featured in the Holland Sentinel. The full article can be found at this link.
MULTIMEDIA JOURNALISM MAJORS’ STORY TO BE FEATURED ON SCITECH NOW
Two student reporters from West Side Stories, Elliot Perpich and Sam Hall, produced a long-form science story called “Reaching for the Stars” that was picked up by SciTech Now, a web/TV program that is distributed on the PBS network throughout the U.S.
The Reaching for the Stars segment will go out in Feed #524 on March 25th and has an intended air week of April 29th.
SOC ALUMNA FEATURED IN GRADUATE SCHOOL ANNUAL REPORT
M.S. in Communications graduate Pasha Shipp was featured in GVSU’s Graduate School Annual Report. As you can see from the piece (included below), she had great things to say about the program.
MELBA VÉLEZ ORTIZ TO DELIVER KEYNOTE SPEECH AT LATINO GRADUATION
Melba Vélez Ortiz will give the keynote speech at GVSU’s Latino graduation on April 26. This is an exciting event, as GVSU will be graduating the largest class of Latino students in its history. Congratulations, Melba!
ADRIENNE WALLACE ELECTED CHAIR-ELECT OF PRSA-EAST CENTRAL DISTRICT
Adrienne Wallace was recently elected as the Chair-Elect of the East Central District of PRSA. The East Central District includes 17 PRSA chapters from seven different states. Congratulations, Adrienne!
CARL BROWN ELECTED VICE CHAIR-ELECT OF NCA SECTION
Carl Brown has been elected Vice Chair-Elect of the Communication Centers Section of the National Communication Association. Congratulations, Carl!
SOC ADJUNCT PROFESSOR RELEASES ALBUM WITH BAND SILVERSTILES
SoC communication studies adjunct professor John Bruni recently released an album with his band, Silverstiles. To read more, see this article in the Lanthorn.
ERIC HARVEY SECURES BOOK CONTRACT
Eric Harvey received a contract to write “Who Got the Camera: Rap, TV, and the Rise of Reality” for the University of Texas Press. The book traces the collision of race, crime, journalism, media, music and celebrity from 1986 to 1996, and explains how that period decisively shaped our current moment.
MELBA VÉLEZ ORTIZ SECURES BOOK CONTRACT
Melba Vélez Ortiz’s “Maatian Ethics in a Communication Context” will be published by Routledge Press, the world’s leading academic publisher in the Humanities and Social Sciences.
COMM STUDIES MAJOR RACHEL MCMAHON TO PUBLISH BOOK
Rachel McMahon, the GVSU communication studies major who received press earlier in the year for her (unpaid) work writing quizzes for Buzzfeed, has signed a contract with Simon & Schuster for a book entitled “What Kind of Quiz Book Are You?”, which will be published in July. For more information, see this Detroit Free Press article.
LORIE JAGER SELECTED FOR OUTSTANDING ACADEMIC ADVISING AND STUDENT SERVICES AWARD
Lorie Jager has been selected as this year’s recipient of GVSU’s Outstanding Academic Advising and Student Services Award. This is a well deserved recognition of all the work Lorie does for our communication studies and health communication majors. Please be sure to offer your congratulations to Lorie the next time you see her.
GVSU STUDENTS WIN MAB AWARDS
Once again, GVSU students have won several Michigan Student Broadcast Awards. The winners are:
Best Newscast, First Place: Grand Valley State University, West Side Stories – Flu Epidemic, Chalkboard Project, Geek Group, Alexandria Kelly ‘18, I-Ta Tsai, Justin Pelham ‘18, Cali Hubbard ‘18. (This represents back-to-back first place finishes for GVSU.)
News Feature, Second Place: Grand Valley State University, Relay for Life – Surviving Cancer, Jessica Croel ‘18, Sarah Good.
Sports Announcing Team, First Place: Grand Valley State University, GVSU Women’s Hockey vs Davenport, Paul McPherson ‘18, Nate Dreyer ‘20. (This is the fourth time in the last five years that GVSU has won this category, and the third award for this team.)
The awards will be presented on March 6 at the MAB’s Great Lakes Media Show in Lansing.
GVSU PRSSA CHAPTER WINS PACESETTER AWARD—THREE MONTHS IN A ROW!
GVSU’s PRSSA chapter, advised by Prof. Adrienne Wallace, has won the PRSSA’s national Pacesetter Chapter Recognition three months in a row: November, December, and January!According to the PRSSA website, the Pacesetter designation recognizes a Chapter’s success in the areas of membership, national participation, and/or Chapter development.
Congratulations to Adrienne and our PRSSA students for their outstanding work—and for helping to further establish our Ad/PR program as a national leader.
Since a picture and a tweet is worth a thousand words (especially coming from multimedia journalism professor and SoC associate director Len O’Kelly):
GVSU STUDENTS SWEEP NACC AWARDS—AGAIN!
For the second year in a row, GVSU students have won top paper honors in both the undergraduate and graduate categories at the National Association of Communication Centers conference. Jeannine Lane and Vivian Niestrom won the Huddy-Gunn Top Graduate Paper Award, and Hannah Karwat and Dominic Cassisi won the Bob and Ann Weiss Top Undergraduate Paper Award. This is an outstanding achievement that further solidifies GVSU’s reputation as having one of the best speech labs in the country.
NSAC TEAM WINS DISTRICT COMPETITION
Students from GVSU’s Ad/PR program, led by Prof. Robin Spring, claimed a win at the National Student Advertising Competition for District 6, which includes Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana. They will now move on to the semi-finals for a chance to compete at the national competition in June. For more details, read this post on the enLIGHTen blog.
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