Why did you choose communication studies M.A. program at NIU?
I applied for graduate school immediately after completing my undergraduate studies. NIU was one of my top three choices, and I knew after my visit in the spring of 2013 that I would benefit from studying at Northern. As someone who was interested in teaching at the collegiate level, the teaching assistant program at NIU was one of the deciding factors for me. Under the mentorship of Professor Ferald Bryan, we were able to teach our own public speaking course starting the first semester of graduate school. This was a great experience that helped me grow, and I believe it was extremely formative for my teaching ability today.
How did your major help prepare you for what you are doing now?
Focusing my graduate studies on interpersonal, organizational and persuasive communication allowed me to align my passions with my profession. Each of the courses I took at NIU have been applicable to the work I do on a daily basis. The program offered a breadth of coursework in different areas of focus with a depth of knowledge that continues to benefit me to this day.
What do you feel is special about the NIU program?
The personal relationships with the faculty. To this day I have a strong relationship with both my full-time advisor and the temporary advisor I was “assigned.” It helps that they get along pretty well too. Professors David Henningsen and Mary Lynn Henningsen are brilliant and passionate for both the work they do and the students they have the opportunity to work with. They are surrounded by many other faculty members whose focus is not only on their research but also on the students they can help develop. As an M.A. terminal program, this is a unique aspect the NIU program offers that other Ph.D. terminal programs can’t compete with.
Why would you recommend the M.A. program to other students?
Advancement work is all about building relationships. The research my program focused on is reflective in the everyday work that I do as an advancement professional. From building relationships with alumni to understanding the organizational hierarchy and communication structures within higher education contexts, the IOP focus has benefited me as I secure financial resources for the institutions I serve. It is my firm belief that my education at NIU would have benefited me in any field I entered after my studies.
As I begin my doctoral work this fall at an R1 institution, I feel confident that my time at NIU has helped prepare me for the coursework and research required for me to thrive. I also believe having my M.A. from Northern helped me be admitted to the program.
Is there anything you would like to tell prospective students?
Choose this program. Attending NIU for your M.A. is an investment in your life both personally and professionally. The faculty care about you, the program helps your professional and personal development, there are ample funding opportunities, and, if you’re interested in teaching, NIU’s Communication teaching assistants are hands-on with students from day one. If I could go back to take the program again, I would in a heartbeat.
M.A. Communication Studies, 2015
Advancement and Communication Manager
School of Human Ecology
University of Wisconsin – Madison