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A Degree Program that Offers a Holistic View of Healthcare—and a Competitive Edge

When Taylar Kobylas ’18 discovered public relations during her undergraduate years, she knew she had found the right fit. After spending two years at Loyola University Chicago, she transferred to Wayne State University to complete her public relations degree.

As an active member of PRSSA (the Public Relations Student Society of America) and working for the school newspaper, as well as serving as an intern with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s social media team, she gained relevant experience quickly.

After graduating in 2014, she joined Blue Cross Blue Shield full-time for a year, managing social media accounts and contributing to the company’s award-winning blogs before shifting to work for the company’s agency of record—Finn Partners—to support the Blue Cross Blue Shield account.

“Two years into this role, I was ready to figure out my next move,” says Kobylas. “It was either buying a house or going to grad school. Those were my two goals at the time.” Buying a house didn’t feel quite right, so she pursued her other dream…which led her to Northwestern’s MS in Health Communication program. Her employer had an office in Chicago, so Kobylas was able to continue her career while she relocated to earn a graduate degree.

“Over the past few years, my professional experiences had confirmed that healthcare was where I wanted to be,” explains Kobylas. “I was four years out of college. I wasn’t green, but I also had a lot to learn. I wanted to grow, network, and sharpen my skills.”

After beginning the program, she quickly discovered that much of the curriculum aligned with the work she was already doing. For example, the Human-Computer Interaction course inspired her to think about how design impacts everyone across the healthcare spectrum. 

Health and Media also hit home for Kobylas as her professor discussed the impacts of social media, television, and music on adolescents’ physical and mental health. “Up until that point, it was a lot of knowledge gathering and soaking it up. This course tied it all together and showed me where I can truly apply these things.”

In addition to the relatable curriculum, Kobylas says she’s also grateful for her diverse cohort and the opportunity to learn alongside professionals in all stages of their careers. “That was a big win in my book: learning from experienced professionals while helping counsel some of the less experienced students—but learning from their perspectives, too.”

To stay connected with the program after graduation, she served as a teaching assistant to help run discussions and read and grade assignments. “I really enjoy helping other students and letting them know that I’ve been in their shoes. It’s rewarding to help them achieve their goals.”

Shortly after earning her MS in Health Communication, Kobylas landed a senior advisor role with healthcare communications consulting firm Jarrard Phillips Cate & Hancock—an organization she found out about through the program. “The hiring process proved to me that Jarrard does their homework to make sure the right people with the right skillsets are brought on board,” she says. “But Northwestern gave me a holistic view and an edge. I could speak to different perspectives and patient engagement. It legitimized who I was and the knowledge I had.”

Since joining the company in 2019, she has helped with a full company rebrand, crafted internal communications about COVID-19, and assisted with the launch of a company that engineers safety hardware and software for motorized wheelchairs.

“Now’s a really good time to be in this market,” she says. “Healthcare communicators are much needed. I’ve seen my career progress in different directions already, and it’s very exciting. Northwestern’s MS in Health Communications program is grooming leaders who are solving major healthcare problems. This program opens lots of doors; you just have to take advantage of the opportunities.”