This second part is about what was, for me, a remarkable journey and experience at CPS. My time in the MS COC program was full of global workplace learning opportunities, intellectual challenges and my personal and professional growth. There is a quote by Benjamin Franklin that is very close to my heart and my personal philosophy of life: “To succeed, jump as quickly at opportunities as you do at conclusions.” And, this quote guided me throughout my learning journey at CPS.
Overwhelmed, confused, and nervous… I was sitting in front of my computer screen at 2:00 a.m. on a Tuesday night (2014), staring at a list of hundreds of schools around the world that appeared in the search result for “Masters Degree in Communications.”
As we forge into this Information Age and World of Robotics, the concept of Human Literacy has been introduced to the stage. What is Human Literacy? Northeastern University President Aoun has proposed Human Literacy to mean our unique abilities to adapt, collaborate, and offer empathy in comparison to computational literacy generated through artificial intelligence. This new use of the term human literacy is an example of a cultural linguistic adjustment in professional studies within higher education. This is where the idea of a cultural audit takes footing. So, what is a cultural audit?
On September 17, 2017, Lean In To Grow was first introduced in the Communications Alumni Network Blog by Teeraporn Johsuntorn ’17. As TJ shared, we started this Lean In Circle from scratch. However, we all knew that it would be something beneficial to international female students. Over the past 17 months, we’ve sponsored ten events and directly inspired more than 200 students.
The buzzer hit zero. The game wasn’t over. The buzzer hit zero again. The game still wasn’t over. We went into a shootout, five shooters required. The game still wasn’t over. The shootout went into sudden death. We scored. The game wasn’t over. Maddie Rooney made one last save. The game WAS over! WE DID IT! We became Olympic Champions, Gold Medalists, and we’re on top of the world in Women’s Ice Hokey.
Communications? How did I end up in Communications? This is a question I have asked and have been asked. I find the study of communications fascinating from an interpersonal perspective, intercultural point of view, anthropological, business management, economics, political science, the list could continue. Not a simple answer for what seemingly should be a simple response. Let me share with you a defining moment in my past that secured the value of communication studies for my professional career.
We must go back to 1997 when I was the Community Support Services Director for a Central Florida mental health center covering two counties. What inspired me most about this leadership role was the opportunity to change the face of mental illness. The stigma facing the mentally ill was associated with negativity. There was discomfort and fear in the thought of working with or even being near someone diagnosed with schizophrenia. Literally, I was told, I can’t trust someone who is crazy. In an effort to increase mental health awareness, I collaborated with a local group from the National Alliance on Mental Illness to create a community event. Having experience with project management, I thought this would be a simple project while being beneficial for the community.
To my surprise, we had doors close on us left and right when seeking sponsorship, venue location, and media interest. How is this not an important topic? Why won’t people want to learn about mental illness? People just don’t care, was what I was told. I was shocked and more determined then ever. We need people to make a connection as they would with heart disease or cancer issues. We need to bring schizophrenia alive.
About that time, we learned of a one woman traveling show. This actress had a sister with schizophrenia and wrote a short drama about her experience. We were able to gain support for this theatrical production within a community church. Next step was to gain sponsorship for media. Being a member of the Ocala Jaycees, I was able to secure backing from numerous rising business leaders interested in hearing about this woman’s story.
The public relations plan started to fall into place, imagine your sister, your mother, or your daughter struggling with illness, an illness of the mind…come and join us to experience the emotional roller coaster ride of a lifetime. People were interested. We had a diverse group of audience members who may have come to see a show, but left with insights into schizophrenia. Our event was awarded community recognition, but more importantly the event set into motion greater discussions on the topic of mental illness. People did care. It was all in listening and getting the words out in a meaningful way.
Patty Goodman, Ed.D., recently joined the faculty of the MS in Corporate and Organizational Communication program as an Assistant Teaching Professor.