Allison SchlobohmAugust 28, 2018
Dr. Allison Schlobohm grew up in St. Louis County, attended Hazelwood Central High School, and graduated as valedictorian from Truman State University in 2007. After a year serving with AmeriCorps, she moved to Chapel Hill, NC for graduate studies. She graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill’s Department of Communication Studies with her M.A. in 2010 and her Ph.D. in 2016. Now a Clinical Assistant Professor of Communication at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, Allison lives in (and travels from) Durham, North Carolina with her husband, Dr. Joshua Smicker; their dog, Argus; and their two cats, Zoe and Pumaman.
What year did you graduate and what was your concentration?
I graduated from Truman in 2007 with a concentration in Communication Arts and a minor in English.
What extra-/co-curricular activities did you do?
I co-founded Truman’s chapter of BetterWorldBooks, registered voters with Rock the Vote, contributed to student government, worked with the Dobson Radio station, volunteered at the Kirksville Family Advocacy Center, was a member of Alpha Phi Omega, worked over two summers for the Joseph Baldwin Academy, studied abroad in London, and waited tables at a downtown restaurant. I also worked with faculty members as part of my scholarship requirements.
Did you go to grad school? If so, where? Was it immediately after you left Truman or did you wait? Why?
I got my M.A. and Ph.D. in Communication Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I didn’t go straight to grad school—instead, I worked for a year as an AmeriCorps-St. Louis reading tutor at Hickey Elementary School in St. Louis City. The year off between undergrad and graduate school was one of the most important years of my life.
What was your first job after graduation?
I worked as a reading tutor in St. Louis City Public Schools as a part of the AmeriCorps-St. Louis service organization.
What work do you do/What are you doing now?
I’m a clinical assistant professor of management and corporate communication at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. In my communication classes, I teach undergraduate and graduate students how to craft effective written and oral messages.
I also teach about and research contemporary corporate diversity and inclusion initiatives and run a series on leadership, power, and privilege for an elite undergraduate scholarship program. I use my expertise in diversity/inclusion and communication to consult with and provide training sessions for teams and organizations.
How has your Liberal Arts/COMM education helped you?
Because of my education at Truman, I’m a confident (and competent) critical thinker and communicator. I learned so much at Truman, including how to think through very difficult social problems and build the relationships that make fixing these problems possible. My courses in English, art history, Italian, music, African history, statistics, and, of course, communication prepared me to be a responsible, empathetic, and wise leader.
Which class did you dislike at the time you took it, but now you’re grateful you took it?
I kind of hated my class on research methods. Now, though, I recognize how important it is to be able to ask the right questions and, using the most appropriate methods, answer them. Also, I loved being able to name my own curiosity and investigate it using class methods.
What was your greatest accomplishment at Truman?
Receiving a grant for undergraduate research (under the mentorship of Dr. Leslie Hahner) and using it to launch my study of the racial implications of HIV/AIDS behavioral interventions.
Why is Truman a good place for a student to study?
I loved my education at Truman because of the close relationships I formed with my professors and my fellow students. Because of these relationships, I was able to define my own interests and pursue them while remaining committed to the greater good.
What would you say a COMM student should absolutely do while at Truman?
If it’s still there, break into the old hospital and walk around to see all the old medical equipment! (editor’s note – The old hospital is still there; however we recommend that you not break into the building as it now houses the Department of Public Safety, AKA, Truman’s Police Department.)
Also, if you’re at all interested in becoming a professor, participate in the Joseph Baldwin Academy. And, if you can drum up the resources via scholarships or other aid, study abroad 🙂
What advice would you give someone who wants to go into the same line of work as you?
Get to know your professors! Take ownership of your education, think about what excites you in each of your classes, and take that excitement to office hours.
I still vividly remember one week when I had an “aha!” moment about de Saussure and structural linguistics—I ended up going to three different professors’ office hours to discuss the theory. I had great conversations with all of them, and they all had different interpretations! In that moment, I realized that knowledge is an informed set of responses to curiosity-based inquiry, and that I love being part of knowledge creation.
The curiosity and personal relationships I built with my professors helped me get admitted to and succeed at one of the best Communication Studies graduate programs in the United States.
Also, participate in the Joseph Baldwin Academy.
What tag line would you create for the COMM department at Truman?
“The tools you need to make your mark.”
What do you miss most about campus/Kirksville?
I miss the small-town vibe, the trips to the lake, the feeling of an intimate learning community, and biking around town.
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?
Being Woke Isn’t Enough: How to Use Your Liberal Arts Education to Make A Positive Impact On Our Nation and Our World
What did we not ask that you think is important for people to know?
My education at Truman was completely shaped by state support for public education. Without the resources available to me at Truman (including my non-competitive, merit-based, full-ride scholarship; wonderful professors; and life-long friends), I wouldn’t be who I am today. We must continue to support public education if we hope to create an America we’re proud of.
Also, I’m currently working on a course for the online MBA program at Kenan-Flagler (MBA@UNC) called “Leading Diverse and Inclusive Organizations.” I also lead workshops for individuals, teams, and organizations on communicating towards inclusion/diversity.
If you would like to learn more of Allison’s story, you can follow her on LinkedIn.