About Chelsea Pagliuca: Chelsea Pagliuca is an Admissions Coordinator at Southern Wesleyan University in Greenville, South Carolina. She also serves as an Adjunct Professor at two local schools, teaching courses in Public Speaking. In addition to these positions, Ms. Pagliuca is a part-time Class Manager for SkillPop, a startup that connects people with pop-up classes in their community. Her background includes a number of roles in higher education, as well as time as an Account Coordinator for Jackson Marketing, Motorsports, and Events.

Ms. Pagliuca holds a Bachelor of Arts in Comprehensive Communication from Cedarville University. In 2015, she completed her master’s degree through Liberty University’s Master of Arts in Strategic Communication program.

Interview Questions

[MastersinCommunications.com] May we please have a brief description of your educational and professional background?

[Chelsea Pagliuca] I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Comprehensive Communication at Cedarville University in 2013 and my Master’s in Strategic Communication from Liberty University in 2015. Upon graduating from Liberty, my first job was at a marketing agency working in client relations and project management. I sorely missed education and went on to work at a college as the Visit Coordinator, managing both large and small group visits as well as events. I currently work at another institution in the Admission Office. I primarily work with online adult students pursuing their Master’s and Doctorate degrees. It has been an interesting experience being on the other side of the educational journey.

In addition, I have been an adjunct professor of Public Speaking at two different institutions for the last three years. Outside of normal work hours, I work a dozen or so hours a month for a company called SkillPop as a Class Manager. SkillPop is a young company that enables local experts to teach classes to the community including DIY projects, business best practices, and personal growth classes. I love that communication truly relates to any job field and my degree feels utilized on a daily basis. I am constantly interacting with people, whether they be students, clients or customers.

[MastersinCommunications.com] Why did you decide to pursue a master’s degree in communication, and why did you ultimately choose the Master of Arts in Strategic Communication program at Liberty University?

[Chelsea Pagliuca] I have always loved school and the pursuit of learning. During my capstone project my senior year of college, my advisor recommended that I pursue graduate school with the end goal of teaching at a college level. I had been an RA during school and always loved interacting with students, so I welcomed the idea.

He recommended me for the Graduate Student Assistant program for the new M.A in Strategic Communication at Liberty University. I was admitted into the program and decided to pursue it as my tuition would be covered by the GSA position. The program had a teaching track at that time and I was interested in seeing if that was a career path that I would like to pursue. The media aspect of the degree was also attractive to me as it was different than my business emphasis in my undergraduate degree. I was ready to delve into something new! Because Liberty is a larger institution than where I went for undergrad, I was also interested in the additional resources they could provide for research and hands-on learning.

[MastersinCommunications.com] How is Liberty’s Strategic Communication program structured, and what concepts did the program emphasize? What skills and strategies did you learn in your classes, and how did you apply them to course assignments?

[Chelsea Pagliuca] I actually spent my first year on Liberty’s campus as a residential student while I was a GSA. My second year I completed online, while I was working a full-time job. My experience with the structure of the program is fairly unique! While on campus, I took three classes per semester at the same time. As a Graduate Student Assistant, I was also teaching a freshmen-level public speaking course. I could readily use concepts taught in my courses in the classroom while teaching. This was applicable especially to a generation of students where media has permeated their world even more than mine at that age.

My online courses were a bit different as they were accelerated at only eight weeks. Some of them overlapped and others were taken alone depending on the courses available. Some of the courses were similar to my undergraduate degree except there was a greater focus on advertising and media. Creating new concepts, ideas and theories was always emphasized and included in research papers and projects. Concepts taught in class were used to analyze case studies and applied to real life situations. For example, our social media class ran social media for Liberty’s School of Communication.

[MastersinCommunications.com] Could you please elaborate on your experience with Liberty’s online platform? Were courses asynchronous (prerecorded), synchronous (live), or a combination of both? Did the school’s online platform enable you to interact with faculty members and classmates? How?

[Chelsea Pagliuca] All of my courses were asynchronous. A library full of videos, slideshows and other resources was available in every course. I had a great experience with professors responding back quickly, many times within in a matter of hours. Typically, communication was done through email. There was a discussion board that was always available for classmates to interact with each other. Almost every class required a discussion post of some sort every week to keep the interaction between students alive for the duration of the semester. I did have one group project that required me to communicate via Skype with another classmate, but that was rare.

[MastersinCommunications.com] Could you please describe your experience preparing for and taking your comprehensive capstone examination? What were the components of the exam, and were they tailored to your individual course of study? What advice do you have for students in terms of preparing for their exams?

[Chelsea Pagliuca] The capstone examination took place over a week’s period. It was recommended that students take time off work as it did involve quite a bit of research. Personally, I took this advice and had a few days off. Two questions or prompts were sent to me at the beginning of the week and I was to write a 10-15 page research paper on each of them. One of the prompts was open ended regarding a communication theory of my choosing and the other prompt was tailored to me and my research interests. There isn’t really any way to prepare for the actual content of the exam, but I would definitely recommend either taking several days off work or making sure your evenings are completely free if you work full time!

[MastersinCommunications.com] What key takeaways, experiences, or connections from Liberty’s Strategic Communication program have you found to be the most helpful for you in your career path?

[Chelsea Pagliuca] Honestly, I think the communication theory behind the practical skills has been the most helpful in both my marketing and higher education experience. Working with difficult clients and co-workers in my first job at a marketing agency required me to use strategic organizational communication skills as I navigated the at-times rocky path of project management. Although my job was not focused on social media, I did fill in for the social media manager while he was out of town. I definitely attribute this to my experience at Liberty! As an instructor of public speaking, every communication concept or strategy is applicable, but the robust coursework I have taken allows me to enrich the curriculum that a student would typically receive.

[MastersinCommunications.com] What advice would you give students just starting Liberty University’s online Master of Arts in Strategic Communication program? More broadly, what advice would you give students who are either considering or starting a master’s in communication program, whether it be at Liberty or another university?

[Chelsea Pagliuca] For the online program, I recommend setting specific times aside for when you work on assignments especially if you are working full time. If you are all caught up on current assignments, then work ahead during that specified time. This will help in the long run as your workload at your job may not change, but during the course of a semester, your course work generally ebbs and flows. If you have never been an online student before, it is definitely a different mindset than in the classroom! I found that it takes a lot more self-motivation. Think ahead for why you want to pursue this degree and sit down with people who have the job you want! This will help you get the most out of your degree as you consider which topics to research or focus on throughout the program.

Thank you, Ms. Pagliuca, for your excellent insights on Liberty University’s Master of Arts in Strategic Communication program!