About Ashley Granby: Ashley Granby is a Public Relations and Communications Professional who currently works for the Law Library of Congress in Washington D.C. as an External Relations Intern. She is also a passionate activist for mental and emotional health, and has authored for the online mental health publication Mindcology. Before taking her current internship, Ms. Granby worked as a Graphic Designer and Marketing Representative at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota.

Ms. Granby holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. In 2017, she completed the online Master’s of Mass Communication program at South Dakota State University, where she also earned a graduate certificate in Health Journalism.

Interview Questions

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

[Ashley Granby] I received my Bachelor’s in psychology at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. For five years, I worked at Geisinger Health Plan in Danville, Pennsylvania in healthcare economics, during which I was a Certified Professional Coder. In 2015, I went back to graduate school where I received my Master’s of Mass Communications and a graduate certificate in Health Journalism. I worked as a graphic designer and marketing representative at Ellsworth Air Force Base until I took my current graduate internship at the Law Library of Congress doing Public Relations. I have also authored for an online mental health publication, Mindcology.

[MastersinCommunications.com] Why did you decide to pursue a master’s degree in communication, and why did you ultimately choose the online Master of Mass Communication (MMC) program at South Dakota State University?

[Ashley Granby] I have always wanted to work in the health care field, specifically the mental health field where I could contribute to mental health progression throughout society. I debated going back to graduate school to become a licensed psychologist, I spent time in Nursing school on the track to Mental Health nursing, and even Public Health programs, but ultimately, I wanted a program that would enhance my communication skills within the mental health area. I wanted to learn how to be an activist and create impactful change throughout communities. I wanted to be able to communicate to the masses why mental and emotional health is so vital to overall health of an individual, young and old, and the overall function of society as a whole.

I chose South Dakota State University because the program had health-related courses leading to a Health Journalism certificate which spoke to my desire to strengthen my health communication skills. Additionally, the program was completely online, and as an Air Force spouse, enrolling in a face-to-face program can be difficult when you’re not guaranteed staying in one place.

[MastersinCommunications.com] How is SDSU’s MMC 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?

[Ashley Granby] The MMC program offers certain courses each 10-week session. Students can enroll and take courses at their own pace, some finish in just two years, others take longer if needed.

The main platform of communication is an online portal that has basic emailing and discussion forums. Students and professors communicate via these two platforms throughout the class. Facetime or Skype is also used for group discussions, meetings with professors, or other situations which warrant face-to-face interaction.

The program focused heavily on campaign creation and telling an impactful and effective story over multiple platforms. For example, several of my projects involved multiplatform storytelling using website creation, social media engagement, marketing creatives, interviews and journalistic writing, and simple video creation.

Throughout the program I became a better writer and communicator. I learned which multimedia platforms to use to reach the audience I needed. I learned that successful communication requires research to back it up. Additionally, I learned to listen to other’s opinions and not be rigid with my writing as everyone has different perspectives and life-experiences and can contribute to your process.

[MastersinCommunications.com] Could you please describe your experience completing your capstone project? What communication issue or challenge did it address, and what were your primary deliverables (i.e. communications plan, tutorial, video, visual marketing materials, etc.)? What advice do you have for students in terms of successfully completing their project?

[Ashley Granby] My master’s project consisted of writing articles for an online mental health publication, Mindcology. The articles were focused on building healthy relationships with oneself and others, healing from the past, and using therapy as a healing tool as well as proactive mental health.

My advice to future students is to use your project to advance your professional goals. Don’t just take a class or complete a project for the sake of doing it. Find purpose in everything you do. Find a topic or area that you are passionate about and focus on that for your project. In fact, I would even suggest doing what I did and focus all of your coursework – writing assignments, projects, campaigns, etc. – on topics and areas that peak your interest. For example, throughout my coursework I focused on mental health awareness and prevention. One of my class projects was to build a health campaign which included social media accounts, a website, a blog, and a radio script, called #isolationhurts. This campaign promoted awareness and education within the K-12 school system that isolating students that have negative behavior can have a damaging consequence to their emotional and mental health.

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

[Ashley Granby] The most helpful courses were the campaign courses. In these courses, I learned all of the media platforms (social media, websites, video, journalism, etc.) to distribute a message to an audience, and how to use each one effectively. I learned that all platforms don’t work for every audience. For example, if you want to deliver a message to a target group of 18-29 year olds, Facebook would be a great platform as 88 perccent of this age group uses Facebook. One of my major projects consisted of writing a detailed communications plan of all the research behind social media platforms and target groups.

I was also in class with, and taught by, career journalists and reporters that I still reach out to for professional advice. Now, almost a year after graduation I still reach out to my professors for career and professional advice and/or help.

[MastersinCommunications.com] What advice would you give students just starting the online MMC program at South Dakota State University? More broadly, what advice would you give students who are either considering or starting a master’s in communication program, whether it be at SDSU or another university?

[Ashley Granby]

  1. If you want to communicate an important message – enroll in the program!
  2. Study APA and AP style writing prior to starting the first class.
  3. Be open to criticism from faculty and students. Positive criticism makes you a better writer, communicator, and person.
  4. Begin preparing for your next job before graduation by updating your resume, building a professional portfolio, and collecting professional contacts.

Thank you, Ms. Granby, for your excellent insights on South Dakota State University’s online Master of Mass Communication program!