By: Chelsey Eimer Mason, MSU StratCom student
In the summer 2021 semester, I began my journey in MSU’s Strategic Communication Master’s Program. As with any new graduate student, in any graduate program, I was excited and a bit nervous to kick off my post-graduate education. More than that, I was uneasy about making the conscious choice to continue my education… during a global pandemic.
In a time riddled with severe burnout, languishing and a general feeling of anxiety and depression, I chose to add coursework on top of a pretty full plate. I’m sure reading that you thought to yourself, “we all have full plates.” And I won’t argue that fact. But for those of you that are on the fence about whether you can add to your plate, I thought perhaps I’d lay out some of the finer details to my story.
For starters, I work full-time at Michigan State University as a communications manager for the Division of Residential and Hospitality Services. More specifically, I work with our human resources and health and safety teams, so I’ve been quite busy since March 2020.
In addition, I’m a newlywed. Indeed, my (now) husband and I got married on Oct. 31, 2020 in a small, outdoor ceremony. While we’ve been together for almost a decade, married life comes with its own uniqueness, especially during a pandemic. We postponed the larger reception until this upcoming October, so of course we’re in the midst of wedding planning (again).
At the beginning of 2021, my husband and I decided to adopt two kittens from the Constellation Cat Café. While they both brought us much joy, we had to put one down due to his contracting Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP, or feline coronavirus). We eventually adopted another kitten, but before we did, we spent time grieving that loss.
Shortly thereafter, I found out that I was accepted into the program, and things started to look up again. In May, I began the summer semester with CAS 833: Crisis Communication with Dr. Shawn Turner. I was totally enthralled with the coursework. Dr. Turner was incredibly patient and flexible with his students, which I appreciated, because while taking the course, we found out that our teenaged daughter wanted to move in with us. As a result, we needed to move into a bigger space. So, June was mostly spent attempting to break our lease for 2021-22 and apartment hunting.
Later in the month, we found out that our daughter had been in close contact with someone that tested positive for coronavirus. A few days later, we found out she was also positive. So, while finishing up my first class in the program, I was also supporting a sick teenager from afar.
In July, I began CAS 838: Organizational Communication, during which I kept busy by moving to a new town, unpacking, adjusting to full-time parenthood, and caring for a post-surgery kitten .
So, if you’re concerned about balancing work, life and school, I’m here to tell you that you absolutely can. And if you’re not sure if this is the right time, there’s no such thing. The program is flexible, the instructors, professors and professional staff are concerned about your learning and wellbeing, and you are surrounded by students who may be balancing just as much, if not more, than you are right now.
You will not find a program more well-matched for your full plate.