Rachel Mourão: Combining teaching and research make for the ‘dream job’

Rachel Mourão didn’t always want to be a teacher, but she was always a curious person.

“Growing up, I wanted to ask questions. I wanted to figure out why people do the things the way they did,” she said.

That’s how she landed in journalism. She called the area of study a “natural fit” with her interests.

But after years of being a reporter, she decided to start a professional master’s program – much like the Strategic Communication Online M.A. Program at Michigan State University. She said that’s when she learned about research, “which is, in many ways, similar to journalism.”

“I fell in love with research, and decided I wanted to give it a shot,” she said, of her decision to start a Ph.D. program.

It was during her first year as a Ph.D. student, however, that she first experienced teaching. Once she did, she was hooked.

Now, as an assistant professor of journalism and professor in the Strategic Communication Online M.A. program at Michigan State University, Mourão appreciates being able to blend two things she really enjoys.

“I love both aspects of my job: the research and the teaching,” she said. “…They talk to each other really well. And that’s what makes it the dream job.”

The course she teaches for MSU StratCom, CAS 841: Social Media Storytelling, is about self-discovery, observation and creation – and less about exams, she said. Part of the Media Analytics track within MSU StratCom, Social Media Storytelling is meant to be a practical and applicable course that gives students tools to use at work – whether it’s mock social media posts or a social media plan.

“The goal of the course is to help people tell the stories that they want to tell on social media,” she said.

Mourão said the MSU StratCom program allowed her the flexibility to develop a course that teaches journalistic skills to a group of students who may not be journalists.

“[The course] is an open, creative journey and each student has a completely different path, and that’s fun, too,” she said.


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