A New Trajectory after Tragedy

MSU Strategic Communication graduate, Rick Rangler, was at the top of his career game when his family suffered the tragic loss of their son and fellow Spartan graduate. 

This kicked Rick’s dream of obtaining a master’s degree into high gear, as it now felt like a special shared ode to his son. 

“It wasn’t hard to sell me on this university, but finding the right program was important,” said Rangler.

Rick with wife Kelly & son, Corbin

The right fit 

Rick’s background in industrial and creative design directed his search for a program that would both challenge and give more depth to his knowledge, when a friend suggested he look into the MSU StratCom program. 

First impressions were instant and being able to talk through his journey gave him a good sense for the trajectory the program would put his career on. 

“The StratCom program felt usable, and like the knowledge could actually help me take the steps to open my own agency one day,” said Rangler. 

A big but steady commitment 

As a husband, dad and full-time professional, throwing on a grad school program was intense. Rick’s time in the program was nothing short of hectic. Throughout the course of the 20 months he was taking classes, he left a job, started his own business, and moved twice. 

“The only constant during this time period was the program, so it kind of became my anchor oddly enough,” said Rangler. 

“Although reality set in around week two when the work seemed daunting and intimidating. I realized after a while it is a big commitment, but you get into a rhythm, and it begins to feel more natural and doable.” 

Rick’s biggest tip to new StratCom students would be to get the organizational piece down first. Centralizing all notes and taking the time to print out and utilize the lectures really helped him stay on task. 

Rick opening his own industrial packing design agency, Cobie Blue Studio

A dream turned reality  

At the start of his time in the program, Rick was an award-winning industrial packaging designer at a firm working with big brands like Coca Cola and Campbells Soup. He had dreams of soon starting his own agency where he could connect more deeply with clients of his choosing. 

“After 15 years in the field, I started to realize there’s more to life than solely product design. There are people using these products, and a brands story that we can tell.” 

“That idea is what led me to this program. But when I started, I didn’t have the communication and marketing knowledge to move forward with my dream,” said Rangler.   

Rick’s two biggest takeaways from the program are gaining a new understanding of the power of data and marketing. These two concepts have deemed to be helpful in his now new role as business owner of his own industrial design agency.

Rick on graduation day in 2020

“Early on in the program, I learned that the marketing plan is just as important as the business plan, if not more. And that was crucial in my new role, because I now have marketing knowledge in my wheelhouse and can offer up some of those services to my clients,” said Rangler. 

With the completion of the StratCom degree under his belt, Rick has gained confidence to serve his new clientele better, and in the ways that he chooses. 

“Opening my own agency has allowed me to work with equally passionate people, and their passion has brought me that emotional connection I’d been looking for in my career.”​ 


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