Rebecca Hart graduated in May 2022 from Western Carolina University with a double major in political science and communication with a public relations concentration and a minor in leadership.

Hart chose communication because she felt a communication degree would provide her with skills that would benefit her with any career path she decided to choose.

“It’s been, specifically, helpful post college in getting me in the door because many people don’t understand what a political science degree is but they do understand the gist of a communication degree,” she said. 

Currently, Hart works for the City of Lexington as their Lead for North Carolina Fellows. North Carolina Fellows is an Americorps program through UNC-CH School of Government to build capacity in rural communities by placing recent college graduates in local government.

Our fellows work on a variety of projects dependent on their host site from communications plans/policies, managing grants, establishing community engagement programs, to balancing general fund budgets,” she said. 

This job was recommended to her by one of her professors.

“I work in the City Manager’s office which has a very different culture from the Streets Department or Fire Department,” she said.

During her time so far in her professional career, Hart has secured over $315,000 in grant funding for the city of Lexington, developed social media campaigns, and created an educational program called Lexington Academy.

Hart uses many skills she learned from her communication classes at Western in her professional career.

“I’ve used many of the skills I learned in my communication classes from developing press releases after structure fires, creating social media campaigns about stormwater, capturing employees in the field through videography and photography, and drafting narratives for grant applications to get my city much needed funding,” she said. 

A normal work day for Hart is 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but sometimes work days may be twelve or more hours depending on what is planned. She has several projects and events to prepare for and usually spends time answering emails, attending meetings, and even working on a weekly to-do list.

“Because our days depend on what is happening and may be 12+ hour days due to board meetings or events outside of the 8 to 5 work day, my coworkers try to allow each other to flex time,” she said.

In the next few years, Hart plans to stay in local government and is currently applying for planning and community development and engagement positions after her fellowship. 

“I love the ability to work with and in various departments,” she said. “I am interested in eventually going into city management but would like to spend time exploring the different functions of local government.”

Hart encourages students to keep learning because there are many opportunities to keep expanding your knowledge, skills and portfolio. She also encourages students to try new things because it helped her discover her love for grant writing.

“Since joining Lexington, I’ve realized that I love grant writing,” she said. It allows me to utilize my communication degree by drafting narratives about our community, our financial needs, and what we are requesting funding for. I’ve been successful in securing every grant I’ve written and assisted with thus far because I am so thoughtful in how I write our grant narratives.”

Lastly, students can reach out to Hart on her LinkedIn and email: