Student view:

Tamara Christie: Timing is everything

Dec. 12, 2018

Tamara Christie will be graduating in two days with her M.A. in strategic communication from the College of Communication Arts and Science. The following student view was repurposed with permission.

Sometimes timing really IS everything.

In late 2016, I started searching for online master’s degrees in strategic communication. I soon discovered MSU would debut just such a program in 2017. Meant to be? It sure seemed that way, with a renowned university in my home state launching the Strategic Communication M.A., which was practically tailor-made to fit my needs.

While I had missed the application window to start classes in the inaugural semester, I braved a mid-January snow storm and drove to East Lansing for a meeting with the program’s director, Jason Archer. Jason was welcoming and informative as he shared details of the curriculum, showed me a sneak-peek at the online D2L learning platform and told me what he envisioned for the program.

I got a tour and even said quick hellos to Communication Arts and Sciences dean Prabu David and all-around terrific instructor and human Valeta Wensloff. Within moments, I knew this program had not just the curriculum but also the culture for me.

Less than two years later, I’m wrapping up my final semester. My colleagues, family and friends keep saying they can’t believe how fast it’s gone. Part of me can relate; it’s flown by! Another part feels like I’ve been at it for ages. The past five semesters have meant lots of extra computer time, judicious balancing of work, school and social activities, many bouts of brain fatigue and a few moments of genuine panic.

They have also been incredibly rewarding. Some of the rewards were expected; indeed, they were the reasons I had sought out such a program. I’ve learned so much, and I know I’m not remotely done distilling and synthesizing my new knowledge, much less applying it.

I’m overjoyed about these new insights and perspectives, not only for my work and career, but in every facet of my life. I truly believe growth is one of the things that gives people purpose, and StratCom has provided extraordinary opportunities in that regard.

I also believe we are here to make connections with one another. Which brings me to the less expected reward of participating in this program: my fellow students. I must admit, I didn’t give much thought to classmates as I mentally tallied the reasons I wanted to enroll. Little did I know how much they would add to my experience.

Many people use the term “family” to describe their workplace or their circle of friends. I have been very fortunate to experience this many times over the course of my life, including at my place of employment, Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority, where I’ve served as communications specialist for over 13 years.

Now I can say the same thing about my StratCom family. We may be spread out: many are in East Lansing; some are near me in Southeast Michigan; still others are out east in D.C. and in dozens of other locales across the country. But wherever we live, work and thrive, we are forever connected, not just online but at heart.