What was your Undergrad Institution and Major?
Public Relations and Sociology with a minor in Political Science from Syracuse University.
What piqued your interest to study health communication?
I spent my career in corporate communications, working for international organizations and governments and have always been attracted to solving globally relevant, high-stakes communications problems. I have worked in North America, Europe and the Middle East and considered myself an excellent generalist communications consultant. A chance to work for a new women’s and children’s hospital in Qatar shifted my path in a way I’ll always be thankful for. Working for the hospital helped me discover my passion for health communications and the urgent need to help connect patients with providers in a transparent and useful manner.
Why is earning your MS at Northwestern important to you?
I came across the MSHC program after years of searching for the right MS. The pandemic was an opportunity for self reflection across many layers of our society, as well as individually. I came away with a renewed sense of purpose and vision for how I can be a part of something bigger than myself. Aside from the expanded career path, earning an MS at Northwestern is a self-affirming accomplishment, a way to own and direct my career trajectory where work and life intersect with a purpose that is bigger than yourself.
What are your career goals?
Broadly speaking, I want to play a role in helping patients, payers and providers understand each other better by building trust through transparent and useful communication.
Any tips on balancing school, work, and life?
Not having any background in healthcare, I had a big learning curve to overcome when starting the program and probably spent extra time digesting the material. As a wife and mother, it was practically impossible to get away to do some reading and writing in a quiet place. I realized early on that my priority was not to get an A, but to get a job, which helped me not sweat the small stuff and focus on utilizing NU’s deep career resources. I was interviewing for roles in my new chosen specialty before the first quarter was even over. (Still on track to get an A though. Can’t help it. Just less stressed about it.)
On a practical level, my advice is to dive into all the assignments for the quarter at the start so you can begin putting away thoughts, materials and drafts as you progress through the weeks. Knowing what you are working up to will help put the materials you are studying in the right context.
What tips/resources have you used in virtual learning?
My advice for moving to a new environment is to say yes to everything. We are certainly in a new environment now when we are sending out our virtual selves to explore the digital world for us. So my advice remains the same: SAY YES TO EVERYTHING. Attend a new lecture, join that happy hour, volunteer for a judging panel or committee, and make sure to soak it all in. And since you’re on your computer anyway, use your social media to record those sparks of insight that will invariably come when you embrace all the possibilities.
What is your favorite part of the program so far?
The program is incredibly well curated. It not only gives you the content and understanding to hold nuanced conversations about the state of healthcare in the U.S. among many other topics.
What are you looking forward to (in the program or near future)?
The best jobs I ever had were ones that made me feel impatient to get to work, dive in and get things done. I’ve found a renewed sense of that just in the first few weeks of the program. So I can’t wait to make a difference, find my place and my people.
How has communication changed for you since starting the program?
It didn’t so much change as it reminded me of why I decided to pursue communication as my career in the first place. As an immigrant moving to a Chicago suburb in junior high, my experience was full of hilarious misunderstandings.