Rebecca GatsonSeptember 3, 2019
Rebecca graduated in 2017. She spent some time working in advertising and living in downtown St. Louis. Now, she’s back in Kansas City and has shifted her focus. Currently, Rebecca is preparing for a move to South Korea, trading the office for a classroom and jump-starting a career all over the world. When she’s not teaching English or learning about a different culture, she can be found hiking, exploring anywhere with mountains, or befriending some type of animal.
What year did you graduate and what was your concentration?
I graduated in May of 2017 with a concentration in Public Communication.
What extra-/co-curricular activities did you do?
I was a member of Tau Lambda Sigma service sorority, Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity, Ad & PR Club, and Student Philanthropy Council. I also had the privilege of contributing to Detours magazine in my junior year, as well as connecting with Truman alumni through Tel-Alumni.
Did you go to grad school? If so, where? Was it immediately after you left Truman or did you wait? Why?
I have not yet pursued grad school.
What was your first job after graduation?
I was an Account Executive at an ad agency, working as the primary point of contact between the agency and clients. I had the opportunity to facilitate and oversee projects, communicate with the media, write copy, and strategize.
What work do you do/What are you doing now?
My career path has taken a 180º turn. Now, I’m teaching non-native English speakers and will be moving to South Korea in a few months. Advertising always interested me, but I’ve come to realize that I have an overwhelming desire to work face-to-face with people and foster relationships across cultures. I place immense value on connecting with people, and I want to expand my knowledge of the world by sharing with people whose experiences are completely different than mine. In South Korea (and beyond), I’ll be teaching, freelancing, and learning about the rich cultures of the world I’ve never experienced before.
How has your Liberal Arts/COMM education helped you?
My Liberal Arts education taught me a lot about problem-solving, adaptability, and taking the initiative to learn how things work instead of simply taking them at face value. It also opened doors for me, in that proficient communication is applicable to so many different areas and beneficial in any context.
Which class did you dislike at the time you took it, but now you’re grateful you took it?
Experimental Methods. It was crucial for me to learn how to conduct research and analyze data, and put that knowledge into practice.
What was your greatest accomplishment at Truman?
My greatest accomplishment was truly my personal development. I learned an immeasurable amount from my Truman relationships and I gained from the things my peers and I experienced together. I left Truman a more independent, curious, and compassionate person.
Why is Truman a good place for a student to study?
Truman’s faculty truly care about students’ success, and the community on campus is a close-knit one. The extracurricular organizations provide invaluable experience. There are lots of opportunities for personal and academic growth.
What would you say a COMM student should absolutely do while at Truman?
Just as communication skills can be applied to a wide variety of areas, they can also benefit from the knowledge of other subjects. One of the best things I did at Truman was taking classes outside of my discipline. This prepared me for unexpected situations, broadened my perspective, and gave me insight into things I would have never known otherwise.
Also, take advantage of professors’ office hours! This is something I always took for granted. Don’t miss the opportunities to learn from your professors one-on-one, whether it’s regarding a specific class or just to talk about life in general.
What advice would you give someone who wants to go into the same line of work as you?
First of all, allow yourself to adapt to the new opportunities you encounter.
Secondly, keep learning as much as you can no matter where you are. Our discipline is a constantly evolving one, so it’s crucial to continue educating yourself however possible.
What do you miss most about campus/Kirksville?
I miss being in an environment where the collective goal is generally to learn as much as you can and become your best. Truman had so many resources readily available for students and the faculty were really invested in their students. Plus, the most important relationships of my life were formed at Truman, so I miss being a short walk away from my favorite people.
If you could come back to Truman and teach a class for a semester, what would be its title and what would it be about?
If we’re talking about my time in advertisiing, it would be “Wearing the White Hat: SEO Strategy and Implementation.”
If I can wait a little, once I have more experience working abroad, I’d see how I could contribute to the intercultural communication course.
What did we not ask that you think is important for people to know?
One piece of advice that will stay with me forever is from my faculty adviser, Dr. Cianciola. He told me that he still didn’t know what he wanted to be when he grew up. This was really helpful for me because it reminded me that nothing is set in stone. If you’re no longer learning or growing, or your desires no longer match your “5-year plan,” it’s okay to consider changing your objective. Let yourself out of your comfort zone and allow yourself to grow.
If you would like to learn more of Rebecca’s story and follow her adventure in Asia, you can check out her Instagram feed.