New MSU StratCom mentor program helps students, alumni connect and give back

The above image was created by Vaughn Springer, MSU StratCom student. It features her mentor, left, 2018 MSU StratCom graduate Penny Davis, and herself, right.

Connecting students together is one of the main goals of the MSU Strategic Communication Online M.A. Program

To help reach this goal, communication and collaboration channels such as Facebook, Slack and Microsoft Teams are platforms that have been in place since the program started in 2017.

But even with these tools, there was still an opportunity to create a different space for students – one that focused on mentoring.

That’s why the new MSU StratCom mentor program, launched in October 2020, was created. It pairs a new student with an alumnus or returning student.

“As our program grows, we want our calling card to be heart; care for the students,” said Jason Archer, director of the program. “We want to provide them advantages that other programs may not. 

“One was to create systems in place where every student in the program could have significant relationships that transcend the program. We wanted them to be able to connect with people ahead of them on the journey for coaching, mentoring and sharpening to give them an advantage. I’m so excited for the relationships to develop and advantages our students will have above others.”

Daune Rensing, MSU StratCom student success advisor, launched the program. 

“I knew it would benefit our students just to be able to speak to someone who had been in their shoes, but I didn’t realize how much the mentors would enjoy this as well,” she said. “It’s been really rewarding to help unite the two worlds of alumni and current students. 

“I’m hoping this creates new networks, new relationships, and really brings the [MSU] StratCom family together!”

One pairing is Vaughn Springer, a student in her first semester and communications specialist, and Penny Davis, a 2018 MSU StratCom graduate and media information manager for MSU’s central communication office. 

Even though they’re busy, they find time to connect with each other weekly – by text or email – to talk about personal and professional things.

“We're only about a month in, but Penny is pretty knowledgeable in the fields that I'm most interested in pursuing, which is great,” Springer said. “She's already connected me with people as well as reviewed my resume and cover letter.”

Davis said the mentor opportunity was a way to give back to a program that she had gotten so much out of.

“I hope I can be a source of support,” Davis said. “Starting a master’s program is intense, stressful and challenging. And the [MSU] StratCom program is truly a niche program that I feel like when I cheer on from sidelines it’s from experience and genuine pride and enthusiasm for Vaughn and the program.”

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