For reasons related to COVID-19, this story was updated on April 8th 2020, using Beccas own words from her blog post.
Yes…I’m still here
Thank you everyone who has reached out over the last couple of weeks, and especially this last week everyone sharing, and tagging me in their posts of me on the news. Its been really crazy, and I never though that I would be given this platform. I will continue to share and share as well until I stop seeing people on my social media not obviously not listening.
If you have not already seen from the many news outlets that have interviewed me in the last two weeks… YES I am still here in Italy and yes I am still staying.
Italy went into “quarantine” regulations around Feb 22. when the first cases of COVID-19 were detected here. Schools shut down, and life continued like it was normal. We didn’t listen to the authorities or people saying that we should only be out if necessary.
I whole heartedly believe that is how we got into this mess in the first place.
Rebecca Ross graduated from WCU in the spring of 2018 and is now pursuing a master degree in Brand Communication and Fashion Management at the Milano Fashion Institute in Italy. The program was founded in 2007 by the top three Milan universities: Bocconi University, Cattolica University and Politecnico of Milan. After concentrating in broadcasting and journalism at WCU, Ross decided to use her post-grad life to pursue the PR and Marketing side of fashion brands, starting with a company she had already spent three years working with, Michael Kors. This lead to her interest in obtaining a masters more tailored to the work she wishes to pursue.
How would you characterize your experience attending school/living in a different country? Did anything you learned during your time at WCU help prepare you for this transition?
Living in a different city in general is difficult. I moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, right after I graduated so it took a while to adjust to that. But living in a different country is a whole other ballgame. Add the mix of grad school; you have language barriers, cultural differences, re-learning study techniques and trying to have a social life at the same time. Fortunately for me, I have traveled a lot with my family and even did a mini-mester summer 2016 with WCU that helped me travel Europe with Dr. David Tyler of the sports management department. It was for the class Global Sport & Culture (SM 350). It was a great experience, and I am grateful I had that before I moved.
After obtaining your masters, what direction would you like to take your career?
After my masters, I will be qualified to work in marketing / communication departments for fashion brands, magazines, and probably a plethora of other companies. But, my main goal is to work for a specific brand. Whether it be here in Europe or back in the states (probably NYC). I have an internship that starts in September of this year, that I hope will solidify my decision and point me in the direction I need or want to go in. My internship is part of the program, included with the school. Fully covered cost wise and they help place you in companies throughout the world or here in Italy. However, I have not applied for one yet, due to me still taking classes to move towards it. We start applying in June and they can last from 3-6 months. My top 3 brands to work with are Stella McCartney, Céline and Michael Kors. So hopefully I am able to pursue an internship with one of them. We have a great statistic of 97% of our alumni securing a full-time job contract within 6 months of graduating after their internship.
What is the most important principle or skill you learned while in the Communication department?
The best skill I learned was learning how to write and publish articles on the Western Carolina Journalist and Dr. Spasovska’s classes. I was the sports editor for some time on WCJ and learning from Dr. Spasovska was probably my greatest advantage. She also had us keep up with our own personal websites that I still do, to this day. I run a semi-weekly blog to keep up with my journey here. Another great skill I obtained was getting Hootsuite certified with Dr. Eldredge through his Social Media Campaigns class. I use social media all the time now and that was probably the best tool I could have learned in his summer class. I also appreciated the fact we had to be proficient in so many different Adobe software. Moving forward in my career they have become very useful.
How would you characterize the impact of the WCU Communication department on your career/post-grad life?
The communication department is truly unmatched. Every professor cares about you during your four years and after. I keep up with Dr. Spasovska very often and she was one of the first people I told that I was moving abroad to pursue this degree. She has always been a supporter of mine and I know other classmates as well. Also, just the fact that we’re not a huge department so each professor can take the time to get to know you on that level of friendship.
Communication students must complete an internship before graduation. Where did you complete your internship? What was the most important thing you learned from this experience?
I was the sports intern at a news station in Gulfport Mississippi, WXXV News 25. There I learned that I was not so interested in broadcasting anymore, instead more journalism and basic communication side of things. I find this very important just because you know what to look for in your post grad life. You still have time to add a couple of classes to change your concentration or add to it, if this happens to you.
Thinking back about your time as a WCU Communication major, what is your favorite memory?
I have a lot of memories. Some of my favorite times though were spent on the baseball field. Baseball was my beat in sports for WCJ and I went to every home game and most of the away ones too. I learned from Professor James Machado, who is no longer there, how to use a camera and became hooked on photography. I bought one of my own and started shooting for the team, and writing articles for the game series, major events, and other aspects including features and other more controversial articles like, Bring Back the Beer Run. I eventually started to pick up soccer too, which I loved almost as much. I did some really fun and in depth articles for soccer, Catamount spirit: Megan McCallister is coming back stronger, that I am really proud of.
What would you tell a prospective student wanting to major in Communication at WCU?
Get involved. At first when I was starting out, Dr. Iveta Imre was my advisor and she told me to, but I really didn’t want to nor didn’t feel I needed to. Then when she left, Dr. Spasovska became my advisor, she basically made me. So if it is required for class, do it and do it well. For example, Radio 1 and the hours you have to complete. I hated it at first, because I thought it was a waste of time. However, I did it and then I was able to start a radio show with my good friend Garrett Readling and we had the best last semester of my senior year. Plus, you’re getting experience that you might need to use later. Join PRSSA. Go on the trips if it’s available to the students. Get outside your comfort zone and start your own projects. I promise you won’t regret it. The only thing I regret is not doing it sooner.