International Alumni Spotlight: Hadassah Hall, M.A. '15
Home Country: The Bahamas
Current Position: Public Relations Officer, The Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute
Background: I studied towards an Associate’s of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication and a Bachelor’s of Education in English Language and Literature, both at The College of The Bahamas. I am a former news reporter with print and broadcasting experience. I also taught English and Literature.
Why did you decide to attend Kent State University online?
In spring 2013 when my interest in attaining a Master’s degree piqued, I began scouring the Internet, and after two weeks of research, I decided Kent State was my best option. This decision was predicated on three things: Kent State is a reputable institution; the Public Relations (PR) courses were interesting and fit what I was trying to achieve (eg. Strategic Writing and Messaging, Internal Communications, and Social Media and PR) and Kent’s tuition for a Master’s was on the lower end of the spectrum, compared to a few others I had come across. Furthermore, conversations with my Enrollment Advisor proved very helpful. She went above and beyond to answer any questions via email or phone, and did so to my satisfaction. Also, she completed the program herself and was able to speak from personal experience - which was a plus.
How has your Kent State education helped you with your career?
My degree in PR serves to enhance my effectiveness in my current position. For example, as someone who needed a push in the social media direction, this degree has certainly opened my eyes. We live in a technologically-savvy age and to not embrace social media - even if just professionally - won’t work for the PR professional. It is a major way to engage stakeholders. I now understand, more than ever, the importance of symmetrical communication and facilitating relationships; social media certainly helps. A huge part of that is including our publics, utilizing writing and photography that are compelling. That has stuck with me. I also recognize the importance of listening to the groundswell, providing prompt, accurate feedback and measuring the relationships (and quality, in my opinion, is more important than quantity).
What was it like visiting campus for the first time?
Besides graduation day, visiting the Kent campus was a highlight of my trip! First, my family and I felt so special to receive a personal tour from Associate Director of International Alumni Relations, Carrie Circosta. Most poignant was the visit to the May 4th Memorial Center. I read about it and couldn’t leave the campus without a visit. I appreciate the fact that Kent State has not attempted to sweep the day’s events under the rug; instead, it has chosen to educate people on the tragedy and not allow the memories of the victims to die. I also enjoyed a return trip later in the week for the International Student Graduation Reception and was pleased to receive my stole which bore my country’s name. I was proud to represent The Bahamas! At the end of the tour, I had an additional tour of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication by one of my professors, Bill Sledzik. Between him and Carrie, I really felt welcomed to Kent State!
As for a surprise encounter, on graduation day, I actually came across the president, Beverly Warren, in the hallway. I was walking in one direction and she and someone in another. But would you believe, because this bubbler of a phone of mine doesn’t have a front camera (yes, this is true), I didn’t bother to stop her because I couldn’t take a proper photo. I do regret that, and figure it was a missed opportunity (bummer!), and I should have at least introduced myself. And yes, I agree; it’s time for an upgrade!
Moreover, at the graduation, I FINALLY met several of my online PR peers. It was a wonderful, experience. Many hugs, photos and delightful conversations. In fact, we were the loudest on the line; we were just so happy to finally meet a few classmates.
What was your view of Kent State University before visiting campus and how has your view changed after your visit?
Before visiting the campus, I knew it was huge, but the visit proved it’s even larger than I imagined. I also had no idea the library is 13 stories and there were so many places to “hang out” when one wants to take a break from the books. I also realize that unlike the college I attended in The Bahamas where one can get to another side of campus between five and seven minutes, that may not be the case at Kent because of how huge the campus is. I would definitely not want to be trekking across that big campus in snow!
What advice would you have for new students who are completing their degrees online?
The reality is some people are traditionalist, so an online degree is not a consideration. However, because technologically is evolving, I have come across many well-respected universities and colleges that offer online degrees. I do understand that depending on the concentration, an online degree would not be practical. In my case, applied learning was very real.
As for what I would advise new students:
- Be disciplined. Many hours are spent on research, assignments and final projects. Be prepared to put in the hours, sacrificing evenings, holidays, weekends etc. to complete work (it’s worth it in the end though). I feel discipline is needed even more as an online student because I believe most online students are older, full or part-time workers with families and other obligations;
- Do not hesitate to reach out to professors when you need clarification or guidance (I had to do so on more than one occasion and never regretted it) and
- Do not procrastinate and allow work to pile up (you would most likely become frustrated). Pace yourself.
I also suggest visiting the campus at some point during the degree or afterwards, trying to meet a professor or two and even buying paraphernalia (even if online). All these help with connecting with what eventually becomes your alma mater.