This page is dedicated to the stories of our alumni. Many people ask, “What can you do with a COMM degree?” Because, “What can’t you do with a COMM degree,” is not a satisfying answer, we developed this page to showcase what our alumni are doing now.
This week, we feature Becky (Hadley) Cutright
Becky (Hadley) Cutright is an avid foodie, traveler, seasonal runner, classic rock lover, and cheese enthusiast. She lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband, dog, and (yes) pig. She loves her family and adores her friends. When she’s not cooking or on an adventure, she is a communications consultant for the Treasury Division at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (a Top Workplace in St. Louis).
What year did you graduate and what was your concentration?
I graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication.
What extra-/co-curricular activities did you do?
Did you go to grad school? If so, where? Was it immediately after you left Truman or did you wait? Why?
If you had asked me while I was at Truman if I would ever attend graduate school, I would have answered with a firm “No.” I wanted to start my career right away.
Two years post-Truman, I realized I missed the liberal arts environment (and having conversations that focused on topics other than traffic and weather) and found a great program at Washington University in St. Louis. In 2012 I graduated with my Master of Liberal Arts from WashU, and even though I’ll likely pay student loan debt for the rest of my life, I would do it all over again tomorrow.
What was your first job after graduation?
My first job was at a company where we took pictures at non-profit events and then posted them on a website for the non-profits to view and purchase. I was there just shy of a month until I got a communications coordinator position at an association management firm.
What work do you do/What are you doing now?
My job consists of creating and maintaining communications for our external stakeholders and internal division team members. No day is the same. I’m usually reading, editing, taking photographs, managing websites, writing communications plans, helping coordinate presentations and events, etc. It’s a fascinating role with a lot of variety that challenges me daily and keeps me engaged. I am always learning. Additionally, I’m given room to be creative and I have autonomy, which are extremely important to me personally. The culture at the Fed is the best I’ve ever worked in and I consider myself very lucky!
How has your Liberal Arts/COMM education helped you?
Early in my education at Truman, I had a big “ah ha” moment when it clicked in my mind how different disciplines truly connect. Because of that, I still look for connections and find ways to apply what I’ve learned in one respect to another. Truman helped me learn how to think outside of the box and for myself; my communication studies taught me to how to apply what I learn in any situation (interpersonally, organizationally, etc.).
Which class did you dislike at the time you took it, but now you’re grateful you took it?
My freshman week class was Philosophy & Religion and I remember thinking it was the worst. I was really intimidated by the subject matter (hello, Allegory of the Cave). I had just started college, but I already felt so far behind. Looking back on it now, though, it was a fantastic introduction to what the rest of my Truman experience would be: studying alongside super smart people, learning from brilliant professors, and discovering/enjoying subjects I never knew of before.
What was your greatest accomplishment at Truman?
In 2005 I decided to study abroad on a faculty-led program to Greece for one month. This was totally out of my comfort zone because I had never been out of the country or away from my mom and boyfriend (now husband) for that long.
When we got to Greece I had trouble assimilating and I was a nervous wreck. I was the only COMM major on the trip and didn’t know anyone very well. I was also incredibly homesick and miserable at first. Slowly but surely, however, I adapted, and the day I presented my research “Socrates and the Power of Rhetorical Communication” at the site were Socrates died was one of the proudest moments of my life (academically and personally).
I eventually relaxed and soaked up as much as I could of my study abroad experience (and become good friends with folks I still talk to today). The next year I presented two interdisciplinary papers (Sacred Sites in Greece 2005 [co-presentation] and Socrates and the Power of Rhetorical Communication) at the Student Research Conference.
I was also incredibly proud of the two years I served as Educator of the Year chair with Student Senate. Recognizing the hard work of our professors were some of my most fulfilling moments at Truman.
Why is Truman a good place for a student to study?
Truman truly focuses on the students – I never felt like “just a number” when I was there. When I struggled in classes, I had support. When I excelled, I felt empowered and encouraged to keep striving. The professors are some of the best in the country and they put students first. The small class sizes and personal relationships I was able to form with professors helped my educational and personal trajectories, and I am forever grateful!
What would you say a COMM student should absolutely do while at Truman?
Take classes you wouldn’t normally take if it you can fit them in your schedule. I wish I had taken an intro to business or economics class. One of the best classes I ever took was about Hollywood and Broadway musicals – I still think about that class to this day!
Do a one-on-one course with a professor about a topic you’re interested in, if possible. I did a semester with Professor Tetlak translating parts of Caesar from Latin to English. I was awful at it, but I loved it and it was different than any class I ever took.
If you are financially able, study abroad. It quite literally showed me the world and changed my life.
Use the Career Center! Even COMM folks need another set of eyes for cover letters, resumes, and mock interviews – trust me on this one.
What advice would you give someone who wants to go into the same line of work as you?
Get excited because communication is needed EVERYWHERE! There isn’t an industry out there that doesn’t need communications support of some kind. You don’t have to be an expert in a specific industry.
Also, this major lends itself to more than copy writing and editing. You’ll find that many people are uncomfortable writing, speaking, or presenting, and you can be a big help and provide thought leadership in myriad of ways. What seems easy-peasy to you can be difficult for others, so you can be the go-to person or confidant when someone needs an extra set of eyes on an email to confirm tone, or to help ghostwrite (which is one of my favorite things to do).
I’m biased, of course, but I think the versatility of a Communication degree is incomparable. And remember this no matter what line of work you go into: bad job experiences are still good learning opportunities.
What do you miss most about campus/Kirksville?
The campus in autumn, the first few days of springtime in Kirksville, and the fact that there was never a shortage of organizations to join and food to eat!
What tag line would you create for the COMM department at Truman?
“Truman Communication – We’ll Give You Something to Talk About.”
If you could come back to Truman and teach a class for a semester, what would be its title and what would it be about?
The title would be Play on Words, and it would be about innovative ways to engage audiences.
What did we not ask that you think is important for people to know?
A common misconception is that if you major in communication, you are an expert communicator. I personally do not think there is such a thing as a ‘communications expert’, because every interaction and situation requires you to pivot with how and what you communicate. You always have more to learn. Be confident but stay humble. Also, George Bernard Shaw said that the single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place, and this is something that we should always keep in mind!
If you would like to learn more of Becky’s story, or if you want to learn more about the Department of Communication, contact us!
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Read about more COMM alumni here!