By #MSUStratCom graduate Elizabeth Council
The Strategic Communication Master of Arts at MSU was the program I didn’t know I was looking for.
When I graduated with a journalism degree from MSU in 2003, I knew graduate school could be a possibility for me someday. The news industry was rapidly changing and the pressures of career uncertainties for journalists weighed heavy on me. I felt too unsure in my profession to commit to any one grad program and ROI was a top concern too, so I put the idea on the back burner. I also became a mom, so timing and flexibility were important factors.
Fast forward to 2016 and years of experience working in media, communications, marketing, and small business ownership. When I first looked into the StratCom program, the curriculum and course descriptions read like a pro-dev conference designed with everything I ever wanted to dig deeper into as a digital marketing strategist. I knew immediately the program was perfect for me. By then, my career path combined with maturity and the responsibilities of being a parent had prepared me for the rigor of the program. Not only was StratCom right for me, but so was the timing.
Looking back now, the two years it took to complete StratCom flew by because I enjoyed my classes so much. I couldn’t wait for one course to end just so I could start the next one!
I’m applying my master’s and my graduate certificate in digital media by driving the digital communication strategies for Hope College where I work in the Office of Public Affairs and Marketing. I have an active seat at the table planning admissions marketing, alumni engagement and national promotion of faculty scholarship and research. And, our athletics staff and faculty bring me into their conversations so that I can help them be at the top of their game when it comes to marketing and promotion of Hope Athletics.
My master’s has given me confidence to ask more “why” questions about goals and metrics, and to encourage departments campus-wide to think more strategically in all their marketing efforts from social media and web communications to event planning and even print marketing. I’m also leading an inspiring student team of future communications and business professionals to produce high impact video and social media campaigns.
For many people, a master’s degree is the end of their formal education, but I don’t see it that way. Completing the StratCom program makes me want to learn more and to continue evolving as a communications professional. Maybe one day I’ll go after my Ph.D. Who knows? If there’s anything my path to and through grad school taught me, it’s that you never know what’s next. The StratCom degree, and the continued support of our classmate network, gives me confidence I’ll be ready for whatever is next.