Alumni Spotlight

Stephanie Gandsey

Why did you choose your major?

In high school, I took several journalism courses and served as the newspaper and yearbook editor. I knew I loved media and had a passion for how people communicate. I also liked the approach of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences versus the College of Business. When I came to look at NIU's journalism program, I knew the Department of Communication most aligned with my life goals.

How did your major help prepare you for what you are doing now?

Being a double major in Communication Studies and Journalism gave me a solid foundation for working with content and how people consume that content. Content marketing is everything now. These two majors from NIU prepped me for this dynamic role by showing me how to do research in order to put the best plan in place. Even if I don't have a specific skill, I know how to look for business partners to help me succeed in the strategies I put together. 

What do you feel is special about the NIU program?

When I was a student, I felt the professors actively came up with group projects that helped students support each other and pass around knowledge. I remember editing video and sometimes you would be with someone you needed to offer more support to, but other times your partner was more advanced in the editing. However, the projects were such that you were able to experience different roles and understand your strengths and where you would need to ask for help from another student. I also feel professors did an excellent job of utilizing current events and how those fit into the theories we were learning. The NIU Department of Communication taught me how to think, not just perform a task.

Why would you recommend your major program to other students?

I would recommend the Department of Communication to other students because it gives you a wide range of choices for life after college. I went from working in a large public library to a tooling company to a professional services firm, all while building on my expertise. This major gave me the confidence to be an "intrapreneur" and take on a consultative approach to my work.

Is there anything you would like to tell prospective students?

Make sure to take on some extracurriculars--work for the Northern Star, be a member/leader in COMM-SAC or PRSSA, apply for a USOAR grant, and get outside of your comfort zone. There are so many diversity opportunities on a college campus as well. Actively seek events where you can learn about a new topic or culture. 

B.A. Journalism and Communication Studies, 2004; M.A. Communication Studies, 2005

Marketing and Leadership Development Professional