M.A. Eastern Illinois University
B.A. Valparaiso University
Public Relations, minors in Business and Public Speaking
“Map out your future, but do it in pencil.”
I’ve always been intrigued by that quote, and for me, it proved to be solid advice. I’m a planner, so I always like to know what the next step will be; but I’ve learned along the way that being open to new paths can lead to better destinations (like Parkland!)
I began my freshman year at Valparaiso University with the goal of becoming a broadcast meteorologist (inspired by none other than Champaign-Urbana legend Judy Fraser). I enjoyed learning about weather and broadcasting, but a few incredibly tough math and physics courses and the realization that I’d probably need to move to a very small town many miles from home to find a job led me to change my major. When I learned that Public Relations is all about building and maintaining relationships between people and organizations, I knew I’d found my new calling. It turned out to be a much better fit for me.
I graduated from Valpo planning to work at a major PR firm in a large city. And I made it! I was blessed to land an internship at one of the largest PR firms in the world right out of college. I pinched myself every morning when I got off the elevator and headed to my cubicle on the 19th floor of our building to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. In addition to enjoying the view of a big city skyline, I helped develop campaigns for several major corporations. The fast pace was exhilarating, but as my internship came to a close, I decided working at a firm wasn’t something I wanted to do long-term. I began to look for PR jobs at other types of organizations, and a contact I made at the firm led to my first full-time PR position at an art museum.
I served as the museum’s media relations officer for several years. During that time, I worked with local, national, and international media to promote exhibitions and events. I loved what I was doing and the people I worked with, but a few unfortunate encounters with unethical media outlets started to spoil my view of the media industry. (I won’t go into detail here, but if you’re curious, I’d be happy to share stories over coffee sometime.) Long story short, those experiences inspired me to go to graduate school so I could teach future mass communication professionals that it’s possible to be successful without being unethical.
Shortly after I decided to begin searching for a graduate program, I met my husband and moved to Effingham, IL. Two years later, I completed a Master of Arts in Communication Studies at Eastern Illinois University and joined the full time faculty at Parkland the following fall.
Parkland offers communication students an impressive variety of courses, and I’ve had the opportunity to teach several of them during my time here, including Introduction to Mass Communication, Introduction to Advertising, Introduction to Public Relations, Basic Broadcast Announcing, Mass Media and Society, and Introduction to Speech Communication. It’s wonderful to be able to introduce students to so many facets of the communication discipline.
So remember…map out your future, but do it in pencil. It’s helpful to have some direction, but being flexible with your plan is important too. I’m grateful for all of the experiences that were part of my journey to Parkland College. Those twists and turns made me the person (and professor) I am today.