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A Conversation with Northwestern MSC Alumni, Denise Halverson

Denise Halverson is a Records Grades Specialist in the registration and records department at Elgin Community College. She works with students, instructors and deans to provide accurate, timely and consistent grade records. For many of her students, they are the first in their families to go to college, and it can take three or four years to get their associates degree, and she truly enjoys letting them know they have met all the requirements to graduate. Denise graduated from MSC in 2018, and previously completed her bachelor’s in journalism at Boston University. She felt that Northwestern was the right choice for numerous reasons.

“I wanted a degree of substance that was accelerated. Given the amount of time I had been out of an academic environment, I didn’t want to have to take the GRE. I was particularly attracted to the structure under the core curricular themes. I could visualize the takeaways and what was possible.”

Halverson also added how meeting the faculty and staff confirmed her decision even more.” A critical factor, for anyone thinking of getting an advanced degree, is trying to determine how it will better your career. No other master’s program comes close to the refined structure or the excellence of faculty that the MSC offers. Add in the support of career counseling, personal brand development, the library resources, and the choice for me was quite simple.”


How has your personal and professional life changed after MSC?

I am definitely more of a risk taker in my work now. I thank Professor Mike Roloff for this. Mike’s idea about best practices changed the way I think about managing the complexity of process. “Throw the concept out the window,” is my paraphrase of his idea. The thought that managing change could be done with a road map of what has worked in the past, seems ridiculous to me now. It might be safe, but it fails. Critically assessing the moving parts and acting on those gives you a chance for success. In short, best practices are the death of innovation.


Did any courses or content have a specific effect on your work or personal life? 

Communication, management, and ethics with Professor Iden was the class that provided a platform for me to critically think about how I want to go forward. Structuring an ethical framework was not just an academic exercise. I use it frequently to make sure I sit back and think critically about ethical dilemmas before acting. When I do act, it is with a reasoned approach that I can validate. I voice my decisions, my virtues, with more confidence as a result. Additionally, engaging in decision making through an ethical panel each week, made me appreciate the value of this very specific style of teamwork.


What advice do you have for prospective students?

Attend an open house and ask questions. Look at the structure of the curriculum and the options for the capstone component of the program. I would encourage anyone who wants to leverage the degree for a transition to think about the case development option. It is an opportunity to show how your past work experience and the MSC can help you transform your career path. If you want more information, ask to contact an alumnus to discuss how the MSC has helped them.

The MSC is only a year, so have a plan going in. The more you prepare, the more you can achieve. MSC has exceptional faculty, administrators and staff but you are the key to your own success. This is especially true if you want to do a case development. You will need to narrow your topic and begin the process of research in the first quarter.

Finally, remember to enjoy yourself. The MSC provides an opportunity to dig deeper into areas of interest with guest speakers and additional seminars. Take advantage, you are not just getting a degree; you are embarking on a journey of discovery.