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Graduation Reflections

The MSC ’17 cohort graduated on August 11. It was an amazing day and I was delighted to introduce our keynote speaker, Rocky Wirtz! As some people have asked to see the words to the speech, I am including them below as it’s an accurate recap of my MSC experience.

Northwestern University’s MSC Program Graduation at the Alice Millar Chapel on Friday, August 11th, 2017. Photos by Jasmin Shah.

Since we walked into orientation for the Faculty Meet and Greet last September, we’ve been asked to define what earning a MSC degree from Northwestern means to us. The answers probably vary as each of us had different paths and experiences along the way. 

In a few moments, we will be Northwestern graduates! Think about that! The deadlines, director dens, the stack of reading, writing, and overthinking will be behind us. I, personally, have been waiting for this moment since the program’s inception in the early 80s. 

The MSC debuted as the first communication master’s degree for professionals in the United States and continues to be a leader in the field.

The two co-founders, Professors Paul Arntson and Irv Rein (my dad) designed the program by scribbling the curriculum onto a napkin at Houlihan’s Restaurant in Schaumburg, IL. That program took flight and the first class graduated in 1986 with my mom as the first director.  

What makes the MSC so exciting and powerful is that more than three decades later; the faculty, students, and staff continue to build on the vision of this program. 

It is a credit to our superb Dean, faculty, and staff that have made our degree so meaningful and we all owe them many thanks and appreciation. Whether it was encouraging us or advising us or expanding the way we think, without you, we would not have this degree.

Our family, friends, coworkers, and the dedicated crew in the MSC Alumni Association were critical in providing patience, encouragement, and ever-needed support, allowing us to rant and rave as we annotated, created, and pontificated during this past year. 

What has this MSC odyssey meant to all of us? Discussion boards and case studies and desperate late night calls on the night before the work was due. Eating lots of food at the Allen Center, lunchtime walks by the lake, and enlightening Happy Hours.

Professors Leslie DeChurch and Michelle Shumate kicked us off in the fall with groupthink, team composition, and climbing Mt. Everest, without breaking a sweat!

Over winter break, crisis communication was the focus and we learned from the panel discussion featuring MSC alumnus Bob Rowley, Professors Tim Coombs and Irv Rein to anticipate, control the narrative and “know something” to succeed during a crisis. 

In the winter, we witnessed the revelation of good faith and logrolling from a self-proclaimed old buffalo also known as Professor Mike Roloff.

As the season turned to spring, we became infected with a network virus and a reciprocity ring introduced by Professor Nosh Contractor.

In the summer as senioritis started to kick in, Professor Robert Hariman set us straight on the power of how to construct a two-sided argument in our ethics in communication class. 

It was a busy and great year and that brings us to this moment at convocation for our distinguished Keynote Speaker.

Since graduation, I am still intertwined with the MSC program – partly because I work at Northwestern. I miss my classmates and have made some very strong friendships. They were a fixture in my life for a year! I will be involved in the MSC Alumni Association – so my cohort WILL be hearing from me. I know a few people who are in the 2018 class. It’s fun and exciting as I get to relax, answer their questions, and watch them shape their own MSC journey!