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 Ashley Jost
Ashley Jost is a Senior Advisor to University of Missouri-Columbia Chancellor Alexander Cartwright and University of Missouri System President Mun Choi. Prior to joining the world of higher education, she covered higher education for several years at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Columbia Daily Tribune. A St. Louis area native, Jost came to Truman State as a transfer student from Loyola University in Chicago. She landed in communication after realizing that no other discipline satisfied that insatiable urge to question everything.
What year did you graduate and what was your concentration?
I graduated in December 2013, with a concentration in Public 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?
I did not, but I plan on it.
What was your first job after graduation?
I covered higher education for the Columbia Daily Tribune in Columbia, MO. I started in October 2013 while I was still working toward my degree.
What work do you do/What are you doing now?
I’m now the Senior Advisor for critical issues in higher education for the chancellor at the University of Missouri-Columbia and the president at the University of Missouri System. In my role, I help identify best practices in public higher education and help our leaders understand what we could implement at the flagship campus or at the system based on our culture, needs and challenges.
How has your Liberal Arts/COMM education helped you?
Being able to communicate is such an invaluable skill, whether it’s public speaking or writing. I leveraged those skills as a journalist and now in a role where I sometimes write speeches, edit internal and external communications and am often responsible for synthesizing large amounts of detail into something for different audiences. At the heart of that is the ability to communicate effectively.
Which class did you dislike at the time you took it, but now you’re grateful you took it?
It was Persuasion Theory. I didn’t like it at the time because I just wanted to focus on journalism, but I switched my emphasis to graduate early. Now, I find myself grateful for it because it supplemented my journalism brain to think about the way that public relations professionals communicate – the “other side,” so to speak.
What was your greatest accomplishment at Truman?
My greatest accomplishment is realizing and embracing that learning doesn’t stop in the classroom. Some of my best lessons came from interning at the Kirksville Daily Express, or working as a full-time journalist for much of the end of my time in college.
Why is Truman a good place for a student to study?
There is such a positive perception of what a Truman graduate can bring to the table because of the university’s stature and mission. Taking advantage of that and leveraging it to find or create opportunities makes Truman such an asset for any driven student.
What would you say a COMM student should absolutely do while at Truman?
Be open to opportunities, whether they’re on campus or elsewhere. Truman can be a pipeline to just about anywhere if you make it so.
What advice would you give someone who wants to go into the same line of work as you?
I’ll speak as a journalist, because that has been virtually all of my career since college.
Be willing to take a risk on an opportunity to get your foot in the door. Twice in my career, I took a temporary job and uprooted my life to go to a different city. When I got there, I worked and I worked to prove myself, make myself an asset to the newsroom and carve a niche by being someone who could toggle between being a beat reporter or a general assignment reporter. Both times, sure enough, I was hired on a permanent basis.
What do you miss most about campus/Kirksville?
I missed being in a place where you’re surrounded by people who are constantly learning. By default, you are also constantly learning. I missed it so much that I decided to come work at a university!
What tag line would you create for the COMM department at Truman?
I am apparently too far removed from my advertising class to come up with anything creative…
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?
It would be something focused on the translation of communication skills. People from my graduating class are journalists, public relations specialists, attorneys, aspiring politicians… Understanding the ways those skills translate early on could really shape the way that students think about their discipline.
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Read about more COMM alumni here!