In this series, we catch up with some of our amazing alumni to get their thoughts on the University College experience, how their education contributes to their professional roles, and more! Today’s post introduces us to Mary Waguespack, a 2018 graduate with a Master of Professional Studies in Organizational Communication. Working as a pediatric mental health counselor at Children’s Hospital, Mary shares how her time at University College changed her life.
Why did you decide to pursue a degree at University College?
“I always knew I wanted to pursue a master’s degree, but it took some time to decide on the right program. The opportunity to apply my education from University College to many industries and careers was ultimately the deciding factor,” said Mary.
Over the years, Mary has had the opportunity to work in finance, mental health, and as an instructor. With many passions and strengths worth honing, Mary selected University College for its applicability, evening class schedule, and unique offerings tailored to her interests.
What resonated with you the most while pursuing your degree?
Mary was grateful for the ways many of her professors challenged and supported her development whole-heatedly through constructive criticism, thought-provoking exercises, and intentional curriculum. Speaking to her experience in Professor Travis White’s Critical Thinking course (COMM 4045), Mary said “…it was life changing for me. Because my background is in psychology and behavioral health, understanding the psychology and function of bias in our thought processes was interesting and insightful. This course helped me recognize my own biases and allowed me to hold myself and others accountable when these patterns arise.”
The feedback Mary received from Professor Allison Friederichs still resonates today when thinking about using passive voice and other structural elements in writing, she related.
How do you use your education in your current position?
As a healthcare professional, Mary has been at the forefront of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Her education from University College has helped her better navigate this challenging time both personally and professionally.
“I feel my master’s prepared me to be a more effective leader and change manager, especially during this time of organizational turmoil. Instructing at the hospital requires high-level communication and implementation skills, many of which I learned while at University College,” said Mary.
What advice would you give to current/future students to get the most out of University College?
“My advice: take your time and don’t take too many classes at once. It’s really valuable to apply these classes to your current work environment, if possible,” Mary shared. “It may also be helpful to have some goals in mind and to complete some research related to what type of position you will pursue following graduation.”
The Office of Career and Professional Development is here to help students do just that! Megan Pritchett is the University College advisor and is available to assist with post-graduation career planning, interview preparation and more.
What are you reading right now?
“A book comprised of Georgia O’Keeffe’s wartime letters when she lived in Canyon, Texas as a young art professor. It’s lovely,” said Mary who also happens to be a native of Canyon.
Author Megan Brogdon serves as Marketing Coordinator for University College.