Alumni Spotlight

Greg Russell

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

This is the most important question!

This program gave me practical knowledge, skills and abilities that are applicable across a wide range of disciplines, allowing me enough flexibility to explore a variety of professions and the expertise to help me excel in each of them.

Social scientific methods and statistical analyses, believe it or not, are remarkably applicable to consulting and many other professions. Effective problem solving in business requires the same spirit of objectivity, curiosity, analysis and critical thinking. In my career, I have relied on experimental design to pilot costly programs and applied statistical analyses to test business hypotheses and demonstrate validity of training evaluations. I’ve also applied knowledge of group dynamics and persuasion to help gain alignment with colleagues and senior management on difficult decisions.

I’ve even applied these methods in aspects of my private life and relationships (i.e. the statistical probability that my wife was wrong, a rhetorical analysis of my son’s excuses for not picking up toys, etc.)

What do you feel is special about the NIU program?

  • The Graduate Teaching Assistantship program was demanding and almost entirely hands-on.
  • The opportunity to independently facilitate multiple sections of COMS 100 (NIU’s basic oral communication course), coupled with training and mentorship in instructional methodologies, was particularly valuable. This empowering experience has benefited me in many aspects of my career. 
  • The balance of faculty with expertise in qualitative, quantitative and rhetorical research methods, and the mutual support exchanged by each. I felt this helped engage the strengths and preferences of each student.
  • The opportunity for interdisciplinary studies with other graduate students and professors (i.e. evolutionary psychology, Psychometrics, etc.).

Why would you recommend your major program to other students?

The faculty are incredibly passionate and excellent mentors, truly interested in helping students find their own path.

Is there anything you would like to tell prospective students?

  • Get to know the faculty. Are any of them studying something that interests you? Would any of them be a good mentor for you? Start building these relationships early!
  • Get to know your fellow graduate students, academically and socially. Build those relationships early. I regret that I did not!
  • Don’t force it if it isn’t a fit, but don’t give up when it’s getting tough. Have candid conversations with your peers and the faculty. They have your interest in mind.

B.S. Communication Studies, 2008
M.A. Communication Studies, 2011

Lead Consultant
Learning Effectiveness for Claims Learning and Development
Allstate Insurance