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A Degree That Fits

By: Jamal Spraggins, Class of 2016

I can honestly say, one major characteristic I possess is being indecisive. I have always been this way since I was little kid and it remains the same in my adult life. As we all know, being an adult means that you have to make a lot of choices, some big and some small. When you are as indecisive as I am, it can really take an overwhelming amount of time to make a choice about something. When I finally decided to attend graduate school to further advance my career, I realized I had the hard choice of deciding what school to attend and what to study. During this time, I knew that I wasn’t happy with my current career path and wasn’t satisfied with what I was doing. I had several career choices that I was considering embarking upon. For months on end, I went back and forth between public health, journalism, communications and business administration. I realized I wanted to do a bit of everything, but I needed to find a major that is as multifaceted as I am. As a person who recognizes his own level of indecisiveness, I needed to find a major that I could feel confident about, allowing me the opportunity to explore all my career options.

One day while sitting on the bus headed to work, I read a sign that stated “Master’s in Health Communication.” It was an area of study that I never knew existed. When I got to work, I immediately began to do my research and I found myself on the Master of Science Health Communication (MSHC) website. There, I saw all the different sectors, such as marketing, government, healthcare, media relations, etc. to which this degree could be applicable . After doing more research and attending an open house, I had decided to apply. I was accepted and in the fall of 2015 I began. During my growth throughout the program, I gained more focus on what career path I wanted to take and how to better market myself for specific jobs. While in the program, I was given an opportunity to become a research assistant, something I have never done before. It was at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In this position, I worked on a study that dealt with electronic cigarette advertising. I also interned with the Friedman Place, an assisted living facility for blind adults. While there, I was able to apply the communication skills that I learned in class and help them reorganize their new patent orientation process.

When I finally graduated, I took some time off during the summer to further explore what I wanted to do with my career. I realized there is a lot I want to do but the program helped me realize no matter what I do, I want to help people; ideally from a communication standpoint. When I was job hunting, I found myself explaining more about what a person with a health communication degree can offer. To some, this might seem like a problem, but to me, I was able to tailor the degree to be job specific and this allowed me to explore many different career opportunities. I was able to forge a career path that suits my indecisive ways and allow me to make a change if needed. For me, a person who overthinks things, weighs all options and sometimes can regret decisions I’ve made, obtaining a degree in Health Communication from Northwestern is by far one of the few decisions I have yet to regret.