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Movers & Shakers


Christina Swaim
MA in Strategic Communication

1. What made you decide that High Point University’s Norcross Graduate School was right for you?
I knew I wanted to attend a smaller school for my graduate degree. My goal was to get more focus and depth. I knew that having access to my professors was going to be important for that and that kind of access was much more likely to happen at a small school. I knew that’s what I would get at High Point University because of the way I met Dr. Virginia McDermott.
I had a last minute change of plans on a Thursday that was going to bring me to campus on Saturday. I made a call to the graduate school on the off chance that I could meet with anyone from the Strategic Communications program on Friday afternoon as I was getting into town. In less than an hour, I was surprised and more than a little impressed to hear that the head of the graduate program, Dr. Virginia McDermott, had agreed to come in on Saturday morning to meet with me. On Saturday morning, we spent well over an hour talking about the program, my work, and what wanted to do. Dr. McDermott went out of her way to help me even before I was her student so it wasn’t a difficult decision picking HPU. No one ever had to tell me how the program was going to be a good fit for me because Dr. McDermott proved it to me from the beginning.

2. Have you noticed any changes in your professional life directly resulting from your Norcross Graduate School courses?
I speak with more confidence and authority. I don’t question my ability to make professionally sound and informed decisions because our program is so comprehensive. It’s founded in theory, research and technology. So that means I’m using theory to guide my decisions. When I’m not sure, I’ve got the scientifically based research skill to get the information I need. And I’m producing high quality products because I’m trained on the newest programs, the most current software, and state-of-the-art equipment.

3. Have you presented at any conferences or had papers published? Any presentations?
I was the lead author on a paper presented at the HPU Graduate Symposium this spring. We conducted research on the impact that the depiction of journalists in entertainment programming has on the credibility of actual journalists.
I also recently submitted my capstone research to a conference and I’m looking forward to the possibility of presenting my research next spring.

4. Is there a particular portion of your coursework that you have enjoyed more than another or that challenged you more than another?
I’ve really loved the discussion-based classes I’ve taken. They’ve pushed me to see what we know from academia in my real life, both professionally and personally. I’ve learned to look at any situation I encounter through my “strategic communication goggles” because I’m always looking for interesting examples or topics to bring to class that week. For example, a few months ago my brother called me for some dating advice and I explained to him how to correct the situation using the Elaboration Likelihood Model. And it worked. So I’ve really enjoyed how the program has changed my perspective professionally, but also in all the communicating I do everyday. I think it’s a credit to the power of what we’re learning here.

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