“I will never forget the kindness I received from the entirety of the College of Arts & Sciences staff,” said Michelle Adams Rawlings ’17 of her experience at Shenandoah. “Every person I met, whether a receptionist or a professor, was focused on my future and my success.”
Rawlings feels that during her time at Shenandoah, the College of Arts & Sciences was her home away from home. She says that the English and mass communications departments in particular created an environment that made her and her classmates feel accepted and free to speak their minds.
With the help of mentors like Adjunct Professor of Mass Communication Joyce Barrett, M.A., Associate Professor of Mass Communications Kelley Crowley, Ph.D., and Lin Rong Song Endowed Chair in Communications, Chair of the Department of Communications and Professor of Mass Communications Gina Daddario, Ph.D., Rawlings learned the logistics of maintaining and managing a newspaper (including designing the newspaper’s website) and blossomed as a reporter.
“I’m confident that if I hadn’t had those experiences, I would never be where I am today,” said Rawlings. “I gained more career-relevant knowledge working at The Buzz (formerly The ‘Doah) than I did in any other aspect of my undergraduate career.”
Rawlings is as the marketing associate for public relations and media at BARR Advisory, a cybersecurity and compliance solutions firm. In this role, she focuses on external communications and works to drive brand awareness by connecting internal experts with opportunities to share their expertise with journalists covering the cybersecurity and technology beats. Rawlings joined the team at BARR in March 2022 after serving for three years as the sole public relations specialist for the all-remote job board Virtual Vocations, where she secured earned media hits in outlets like Forbes, Entrepreneur, and the New York Daily News. She has also worked as a freelance editor, editing books as well as political news and commentary articles.
“I never imagined how versatile an English degree could be,” said Rawlings. “From writing and editing to interviewing and web design, the skills I learned at Shenandoah have been applicable across every role I’ve held and every industry I’ve worked in. At SU, learning isn’t just confined to the classroom.”
Rawlings believes that being editor in chief of Shenandoah’s student newspaper, The Buzz, in 2016 and 2017 prepared her for the career she has today. The position taught her how to be an efficient and motivating editor.
Rawlings’ advice to students is: “If you want to be a writer (or editor!), get started in your career as soon as you can. Start freelancing while in college. Submit stories to the school newspaper and other university publications (like Avalon). Practice writing journal entries just for yourself. Just keep writing! If you pour your efforts into school and focus on your future, you can set yourself up for a truly rewarding career. Don’t be afraid to try something new! There are so many opportunities out there for writers – you just have to find them.”