Pioneers experiencing success in graduate school

Female student with hands in the air

Dr. Cody Clemens, Assistant Professor in the Communication Department, can’t help but tout the accomplishments of recent graduates in his program and the success they are having in the next phase of their education.

“Frequently, students ask me, ‘What can I do with an undergraduate degree in communication?’ Usually, I reply with ‘Anything.’ The funny thing is, I remember having this exact conversation with Robert, Georgia, Embrey, Elizabeth, and Samantha not too long ago. To say I am proud of them all is an understatement.”

He’s referring to Robert Nelson ’21, Georgia Majka ’21, Embrey Roberts ’21, Elizabeth Reed ’20, and Samantha Rubadue ’22 — all of whom are thriving in graduate school.

Nelson always knew he wanted to further his education, so when a friend showed him around Vanderbilt University’s campus and encouraged him to apply, he gave it a shot. Now, he is pursuing a Master of Business Administration in Marketing.

“I want to work in the field of marketing temporarily, further my education, and eventually, start a business,” Nelson says. “The plan was to get another degree after graduating from Vanderbilt, but moving around the country for school is a bit expensive.”

Nelson chose Marietta because he felt wanted on campus. Though he started his undergraduate years as somewhat of an introvert, he challenged himself to participate in a number of situations that would bring him out of his shell.

“I always emphasize the opportunity for growth, and I knew I’d grow necessary professional skills in this field the most,” Nelson says. “At Marietta College, I took all opportunities to step outside of my comfort zone and lead. Working with the alumni, The Marcolian, Fifth Street Consulting, etc., put me in leadership roles that required me to work on personal development. Without the variety of opportunities at Marietta College, I would not have developed into the man I am today. … The main thing I want to express is how grateful I am for the relationships I developed. There are students, staff, faculty, and alumni that I will forever remember and thank for their impact on my life.”

Majka is pursuing a Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey.

“I am currently interning for the Autism PATH Program at Rowan University and work with students on a daily basis,” Majka says. “My plans after graduating from Rowan are to pursue my Ph.D. in Higher Education and continue to remind my students that a disability is not a limitation it is a challenge that we figure out how to manage and defeat the negative forces that come against us.”

She was encouraged throughout her time at Marietta by Clemens, who told her to “get her ducks in a row” and start thinking of her goals. He helped her realize she could pursue a career in higher education. Kristin English, Director of Disability Services and Special Projects, inspired her to work with students with disabilities and be a resource for them to succeed.

Roberts decided during her junior year at Marietta to continue her education. One of her Management professors brought in a recruiter from Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business to discuss the graduate programs they offered. She decided Human Resources would be her best fit, so then she set up a meeting with Clemens to talk about her goal to study at Ohio State’s Fisher College of Business.

“It wasn’t long after that that Dr. Clemens was setting up meetings for me and other classmates to learn about applying to graduate schools, including the timeline, how to research the right program for us, and who needed to be involved,” Roberts says. “Following graduation, I hope to be working as a Human Resources Business Partner/HR Generalist but eventually transition to working as a specialist in Professional Development/Training & Development.”

As a student at Marietta, Roberts honed a variety of skills that have helped her succeed in graduate school, including being a student-athlete, working with Fifth Street Consulting and Pioneer Activities Council, and also completing internships.

“Marietta offered me various opportunities and exposure to experiences that helped me feel prepared of moving forward in both my personal and professional life,” Roberts says. “I have so many friends, teammates, staff, faculty, and classmates to thank for their dedication to teaching and helping others succeed.”

Reed chose to go to graduate school for several reasons — plus the fact that Clemens continuously stressed how much a graduate degree would help her in the future. She worked for a year after graduating from Marietta — earning a B.A. in Strategic Communication with a minor in Leadership Studies and a Certificate in Health Communication — but then applied to Illinois State University to focus on Communication Studies.

“When I started grad school, I had no idea what I wanted to do afterward,” Reed says. “After a few classes and some awesome professors at ISU, I realized my love for health campaigns and remembered my love for training and development/consulting. I hope to work in one of those areas after graduation and eventually get my Ph.D. During my time at ISU, I have had the opportunity to teach public speaking and interpersonal communication, and while it is stressful, I do love it. After working in the industry, I hope to get my Ph.D. and continue to teach.”

Marietta was Reed’s second choice. She attended Wittenberg but realized it was not a good fit. Her father is a member of The Long Blue Line, so she gave Marietta a second look.

“I ended up transferring to MC at the start of my second year of college and could not have made a better decision for myself. MC has prepared me for life in more ways than I ever could have imagined,” Reed says. “When we would have guest speakers in class or when I talked to alumni, they always said that Marietta prepared them more than they could have imagined and that they were more prepared for grad school or industry than their peers. I always thought they were just saying these things and never really thought too much about it. Now that I am in grad school, it is clear to me that Marietta did, in fact, prepare me more than my peers.”

Rubadue decided as a junior to continue her studies and chose the University of Cincinnati to study Organizational Communication.

“I’m hoping to move toward a job in organizational communication, whether that’s in team development, public relations, or another area in the industry,” Rubadue says. “That’s been my plan since I started grad school, and I’d always planned to try to get an industry job even when I started my undergrad.”

Rubadue chose Marietta because it was a smaller community, and she ended up finding her place within the tight-knit community. She worked as a Peer Communication Consultant in the Communication Resource Center for three years, which has helped with her current graduate assistantship.

“I’m actually teaching two sections of introduction to public speaking to undergraduate students on my campus, and having practice working on some common issues that students face when they take these courses has been really beneficial and made teaching significantly less intimidating to me,” Rubadue says.

Her extensive undergraduate research, primarily under the guidance of Clemens, has also benefitted her as a grad student.

“I’m very grateful to faculty members such as Dr. Cody Clemens, Dr. Linda Lockhart, and Professor Marilee Morrow for encouraging me throughout my journey and helping me realize my potential,” Rubadue says. “I feel very fortunate to have had so much support that has stuck with me even as I’ve graduated.”

Clemens says having an undergraduate degree in communication can help students lay the foundation for any career, and being an effective communicator also leads to success in the workplace. Professors in his area work hard to equip our students to better understand various communicative practices in the world, so they understand the way the world works as well as understand interpersonal relationships and the impact culture and media have on society. 

“The fact that our Communication alumni are getting accepted to and thriving within a variety of graduate programs tells me that the faculty in the Department of Communication are doing something right,” Clemens says. “I am proud to be a faculty member of the communication department, and I want to wish all of our alumni well in their future endeavors.”