Category Archives: graduation

A college career in review

By: Anissa Gabbara

College is one big ol’ emotional roller coaster, and as a senior, I can testify to that. I can probably speak for all seniors when I say that the past four years have been a combination of excitement for the future and fear of the unknown. But despite the emotional roller coaster, I’m happy to say that I’ve had a successful college career, even when there were a few bumps in the road.

Before transferring to Eastern Michigan University, I started my college journey at Schoolcraft College. I decided to major in business, with no particular reason or goal in mind. I knew what I loved at heart, which was music and entertainment, but at the time, I didn’t know what major would best suit those passions. Business seemed like the “safe choice.” I thought, “Maybe I can just start my own music business.”

One business class later, I knew it wasn’t for me. Being the creative person I am, I couldn’t stand to sit through another business class, but little did I know, my future career was right in front of me. At the time, I worked in the Communication Arts Department as the Department Head Dr. Taylor’s assistant. Dr. Taylor’s personality was larger than life. She was quite the opposite of me, as I am more introverted, and she could talk to anyone she walked passed without hesitation. She was the epitome of professional. She taught me the skills to become a better communicator, professional and leader. She was my first mentor and it was because of her that I started to gain an interest in the world of communications.

This newfound interest led me to my ultimate decision to major in public relations. It was my love for the arts, strong writing and communication skills and creative heart that led me to believe PR was the right choice.

sdc pic

Photo Credit: EMU PRSSA Facebook

My journey in the PR program was not perfect, though. There were times when I questioned whether I had made the right choice, like when I was unable to get into the introduction course and thrown into an advanced course without having any prior knowledge or experience in the field. However, that didn’t stop me. I worked harder than ever to get through that course and my grade reflected it. I knew I was going to be OK.

undergraduate symposium

Courtesy Photo

My confidence and self-belief led me to priceless opportunities, and I started to take more risks and get more involved on campus. Toward the end of my junior year, I ran for the PRSSA E-board and became vice president of public relations. The experience I gained as an E-board member was invaluable, as I gained leadership skills and valuable connections with professionals within the field. I also had the pleasure of presenting research with my peers at EMU’s 36th Annual Undergraduate Symposium. On that same day, I received an email from the promotions manager at Fox 2 News for an interview and eventually secured my first internship as their creative services intern. This past November, I was honored to have received the most prestigious and highly competitive award that a PR student could earn in the state of Michigan, and that is the Donald P. Durocher Memorial Scholarship. This was a major accomplishment and I am very proud of myself for it. These are just a few of the many memories I will take with me upon graduation.

fox 2 pic

Courtesy Photo

prsa detroit meeting

Photo Credit: PRSA Detroit

College can be a nightmare at times, but one day you’ll reminisce about some of the good things, like when you won that big scholarship, or when you secured your dream internship. College is bittersweet to say the least and while I look forward to moving on, I’ll never forget the amazing opportunities that college has granted me. Now it’s on to the next phase.

Anissa Gabbara is a senior at Eastern Michigan University studying public relations with a double minor in communications and marketing. She currently serves as the vice president of public relations on EMU PRSSA’s E-board. She has an interest in celebrity PR and hopes to one day work with some of the biggest names and corporations in the entertainment world. She plans to hone her craft while becoming a valuable source of information to others. You can follow her on Twitter @AnissaGabbara.  

PRSSA graduation cords!

Graduation will be here before you know it! If you’re a PRSSA member who is graduating in April, graduation cords are currently for sale. Click here to purchase! The official color of PRSSA is navy blue.

And the countdown begins…

By: Anissa Gabbara

It’s 2017! If you’re a senior, this year symbolizes one thing and one thing only…graduation! Many of us will soon be walking alongside our peers, making one of the biggest milestones in our lives. Until then, we’re longing to checkout early. Although our minds have been consumed with the thought of receiving a diploma, it’s important that we’re putting just as much thought into what we’re going to do after we throw our caps and gowns into our closets to collect dust, and place our diplomas in a nice frame. Here are my words of advice to graduating seniors:



Keep your eyes on the prize.

The workload during the final semester of college can get quite intense, and it’s normal to feel stressed out or anxious for graduation to hurry up and get here, but know that each day brings you one step closer to receiving your degree! Remember, you didn’t come this far for nothing!



Enjoy being a student.

Enjoy the convenience of being a student while it lasts. I like to think of college as being our final “safe place” before stepping into the “real world.” College is a place where we still have time to find ourselves, make mistakes, and discover new interests. You may not realize it now, especially if you’re drowning in debt and hours of classes and work, but there are luxuries of being a student. For example, people tend to be more forgiving because they know you’re still learning. Out there in the real world, people will no longer hold your hand, as you’re expected to know everything.



Chase your dreams.

Corny, right? Call it what you want, but the last thing you want to do is wake up one day saying, “I wish I would’ve done that.” Life after college is the kind of freedom we thought we had when we graduated from high school. Take that freedom and run with it. Our possibilities are endless and our potential goes far beyond a degree. In other words, if you’re a public relations major, but have dreams of winning the Super Bowl, becoming America’s next top model, or even the next Beyoncé, go for it! We just might see you at the Grammys.

Use the next four months to think about where you want to see yourself in the next year. Set goals, reach them, and repeat. It’s all up to you, but take it easy. This time in a college career is bittersweet, so please cherish it while you still can.

Cheers to 2017!

Anissa Gabbara is a senior at Eastern Michigan University studying public relations with a double minor in communications and marketing. She currently serves as the vice president of public relations in EMU’s PRSSA Chapter. She has an interest in celebrity PR and hopes to one day work with some of the biggest names and corporations in the entertainment world. She plans to hone her craft while becoming a valuable source of information to others. You can follow her on Twitter @AnissaGabbara.  

Things to get into the habit of before graduating

By: Nikki Mikolon


Photo created by Nikki Mikolon using Canva

As students, going to school has been our sole focus for many years. For 12 years now we have been in school, and then go four or more years to further our education in hopes of landing our dream job. A career is definitely the end goal, but many students are focused on school and need to be reminded that after school ends, the real world begins. Changing schools is easy. Starting a career can be intimidating. After all, this is what we have been preparing for our whole college career and practically our whole life.

Here are some tips from recent graduates working in the field about some habits to get into now to make the transition smoother after graduation:

Time and deadlines are serious business.

Natalie Burns, EMU ’16 graduate emphasizes the importance of staying on top of things.

“Deadlines are still VERY important. So getting in the habit of turning work in on time still applies even outside of school.”

Erica Tackett, MSU ’16 graduate also emphasizes deadlines, but wants to remind students to pay attention to time while working.

“Be aware of time spent on tasks. In the “real world” that everyone keeps hinting at, you’ll be responsible for billing time to clients in 15-minute increments, if you’re at an agency. Depending on the agency, some of these increments can cost around $25, totaling around $100 an hour. That’s not something you want to mess up.”

Last minute mornings won’t cut it.

Leah Rodriguez, EMU ’15 graduate says that being prepared the night before sets up the next day for success.

“I would say to start preparing for the next day the night before. Have your lunch packed and clothes ironed so you aren’t rushing in the morning. The hours leading up to you going into work are extremely important because it sets a precedent for the day. If you are disorganized and flustered before you go into work, chances are your day will reflect on that.”

Tackett seconds Rodriguez’ request on getting ready the night before while making sure your money doesn’t disappear before your eyes.

“Get on that packing-a-lunch grind. You will get hungry at work, and you will spend too much of your paycheck if you’re going out to eat every day. Get in the habit now.”

Rodriguez also advises students to get used to being on some sort of set schedule before graduating.

“Wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day so your body is used to it. The first week of work for me was rough. I was used to waking up at 9 to get to class and going to bed at midnight or 1 a.m. Having to switch that to waking up at 6 and going to sleep at 9 or 10 is a lot more difficult than you think. Get a lot of rest because your brain needs it.”

When your professor said certain skills would help, they weren’t kidding.

Stephen Kurily, EMU ’16 graduate makes it a point to say how much he wishes he would have built his personal brand sooner than later.

“One thing I wish I did before graduating was using my social media (Twitter and LinkedIn) to follow and engage with reporters and outlets in the industries I wanted to work in. Starting to build those connections early will benefit you so greatly when you start your career. Using your social channels to share and retweet stories about trending topics shows potential employers that you are paying attention to what’s going on. This also gives you the chance to start building relationships with reporters, share their work, and tell them what you think about their story. This helps build your personal brand in a major way.”

Tackett reminds us that those skills we learned even before college are essential.

“Don’t stray away from math, especially if you want to work in digital. I spend 75 percent of my time in Excel, working with large data sets (imagine nearly 5,000 rows) and complicated formulas. We use Excel to calculate ad performance, organize and track media flow charts, monitor and calculate costs, and more. I use math every single day in my role to do quick equations on the side, or double-check something a formula is calculating.”

Find something to keep you sane.

Tackett makes another good point when getting used to life after school.

“Get a hobby that’s not your job, seriously. After I graduated and started at my new gig, I became very complacent with my after-work life. Without having homework, student organizations and part-time jobs to fill your schedule, you forget what to do with all the time on your hands. Having a hobby or something you enjoy and look forward to helps.”

We all knew one day graduation would come. For some of us, we will complete our undergraduate degrees and dive right into the workforce. Others may want to learn more before diving in. Whichever path you may choose, be sure to use this advice to prepare for the future.

Nikki Mikolon is a senior majoring in public relations and minoring in marketing. As a Detroit native, she hopes to spend her beginning years working for the city and being a part of its renaissance. Connect with Nikki on Twitter @nikkimikolon.