About Christy McCormick: Christy McCormick works in higher education as a Communications Contractor. She currently writes content for Campbell University’s website and magazine, while residing in Alabama with her husband, Michael; son, Macklin; and dogs, Maui and Bailey. Before her current position, Ms. McCormick worked in admissions and student affairs, helping graduate students achieve both personal and professional goals. In her free time, she volunteers with the Family Readiness Group, refinishes furniture, and loves to travel.

Ms. McCormick earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies with a concentration in Public Relations from Campbell University in 2011. In 2017, she graduated from Sam Houston State University’s (SHSU) online Master of Arts in Communication Studies program.

Interview Questions

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

[Christy McCormick] I attended Campbell University in North Carolina from 2007-2011. I received a BA in Communication Studies with a concentration in Public Relations. During my senior year of college, I had the opportunity to intern with the Director of Communications for the local county school system. I was able to write press releases for the local paper, create marketing material for upcoming events, and participate in the orchestration of multiple school activities such as luncheons, plays, and musicals.

After graduation, I began working as an admissions counselor for Campbell University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. I quickly moved into the world of Student Affairs and found myself overseeing graduate student organizations, academic support, and career services. During my time as the Assistant Director, I was able to guest lecture for multiple programs such as pharmacy, physical therapy, and even physician assistant on topics such as interpersonal communication and professional development. I also taught an orientation course and conducted professional development seminars.

In December 2017, I graduated from Sam Houston State University with my MA in Communication Studies. My husband and I were in the midst of adopting our son when I graduated, so I did not return to work immediately. Our son was born in July 2018, and I have been enjoying time at home with him. I recently returned to work as a Communications Contractor and am writing articles and student/alumni spotlights for Campbell University’s website and magazine.

[MastersinCommunications.com] Why did you decide to pursue a master’s degree in communication, and why did you ultimately choose the online Master of Arts in Communication Studies program at Sam Houston State University (SHSU)?

[Christy McCormick] I wanted to pursue a master’s degree in something that wouldn’t tie me to one career field. After completing my undergraduate degree, I had friends with communication degrees work in various fields such as finance, education, marketing, media, etc. The opportunities that are available with a communication degree are broad and provide flexibility, thus allowing me to figure out what I wanted to do long term without being tied to one specific area.

Sam Houston State University was appealing to me for multiple reasons. My husband is in the Army, so being able to complete the program online was a large draw. Scholarship opportunities and financial assistance were helpful incentives, and I was also impressed with the faculty and staff when I called to inquire about the program. Overall, I chose this program because I wanted to strengthen my understanding of topics like family and interpersonal communication, the psychology behind persuasion, nonverbal communication, and even how intergenerational communication can impact the growth, or degradation, of our economy and relationships.

[MastersinCommunications.com] Could you please elaborate on your experience in SHSU’s online MA program? How is the program structured? Were courses asynchronous, synchronous, or a combination of both? Did the school’s online platform enable you to interact with faculty members and classmates?

[Christy McCormick] I was skeptical about obtaining a communication degree online and worried that it would take away from the opportunity to truly communicate with classmates and faculty. All of my fears were quickly laid to rest during my first semester. The faculty did an excellent job of facilitating class discussions as well as homework assignments that required interaction and teamwork. I was in constant contact with my faculty and even chatted with classmates via text, phone, email, and Facebook! The online environment didn’t take away our ability to communicate; it just changed how we communicated, and ultimately made us all stronger communicators.

There are a few required courses that each student must take, but class selection is mostly dictated by the electives that you wish to take. Some courses are only offered once every few semesters, so it is important to take them when they are available/being offered. There are quite a few electives to choose from, offering flexibility to more closely study topics that fit your personal or career goals.

[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 comprehensive exams?

[Christy McCormick] The comprehensive exam is the final step toward graduating. All of the faculty members that I took courses with throughout the program assigned topics and study questions at the beginning of my final semester. If a faculty member gave me a list of terms, I made a study guide and defined the terms and made sure I had a basic understanding of each one. If a faculty member said, “be able to talk about the difference in family communication and interpersonal communication,” I wrote out some key points and spent time writing out an actual response to the question.

Each faculty member was readily available, supportive, and encouraging during my studies and preparation for the exam. Comps is a written, proctored exam and each question has an allotment of time (usually thirty minutes). The entirety of the exam will take about eight hours and can be taken over the course of one or two days.

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

[Christy McCormick] I took a persuasion and social influence elective that gave me insight on marketing tricks as well as social media usage and trends. This has proven beneficial in my current role both from a program-marketing stance as well as understanding how to increase communication engagement via social media and university literature. In addition to my contracting role, I also serve my husband’s Army Aviation unit by planning events and creating and maintaining relationships with young military spouses. I feel confident in this mentorship role, in part, as a result of the family communication and conflict resolution courses that I took during my time at SHSU. Resolving conflict is crucial to the healthy success of any relationship and means being able to understand another’s point of view, accept differences and reconcile hurt.

The MA in communication studies program at SHSU benefited both my personal and professional understanding of communication and even strengthened my writing capabilities. My former classmates all possessed different professional backgrounds, therefore bringing unique insight to weekly discussions and group projects while simultaneously challenging the way I think.

[MastersinCommunications.com] What advice would you give students just starting Sam Houston State University’s online MA in Communication Studies 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 SHSU or another university?

[Christy McCormick] If you are looking to begin a master’s program, I highly recommend SHSU and would encourage you to know what resources are available to you! Grad school is much different than undergrad. There are always research opportunities available, and you might even be able to obtain a graduate assistant (GA) position and work for one of the faculty members! Be sure to tailor your electives toward your interests, get to know your faculty and enjoy! You’ll be crossing the finish line before you know it.

Thank you, Ms. McCormick, for your excellent insights on Sam Houston State University’s online Master of Arts in Communication Studies program!