How Earning my Graduate Degree in Communications Helped Me To Be Fearless

Author: Stefanie Leiter, Alumni Online MS in Communications, 2016

Everyone thought I was crazy. I was a full-time working mom with a toddler and a kindergartner.

I remember sitting on my bed with the door shut and my husband struggling to keep the kids quiet as I walked through the application process.

One of the first questions I was asked is if I had the discipline to handle an online learning environment: the discussion boards, the readings, the accelerated course structure, and the technology. Considering my entire career was focused around online communications, the thought never crossed my mind. To me, online learning meant convenience, flexibility, and purpose.

Communication graduate programs sounded overwhelming both in my limited free time and in my mind. It had been nine years since my undergraduate studies; I cannot possibly go back to school.

Fear crippled my mind.

Fear that I would miss deadlines at work. Fear that I would fail my professors. Fear that I would not be intelligent enough for graduate learning. Fear that I would fail my family.

I quickly replaced fear with strength. Strength that I would balance my time between work, class, and family time. Strength that I was smart and confident.

I found a canvas while on vacation that I immediately gravitated towards that evoked confidence: “She believed she could so she did.”

And that is what I learned. Be fearless. Aim to be the best person you can be. Don’t say no before you try.

With Purdue University’s online master’s of science in communication program, it was easy to be fearless.

My admissions counselor replaced my fears with answers about the technology, financial aid, and the class structure.

My classmates replaced my fears with praise and support in the discussion boards and learning through each other in close examination of our case studies and giving advice through our professional experiences.

My professors replaced my fear with confidence in the assignment feedback and by challenging my critical thinking skills in relation to my professional career.

Moving forward my goal is to teach my children and others around me to be authentically fearless. Find your passion and pursue with purpose. If you do not try, you will never know how far you can go.

Learn More
Stefanie Leiter is an alumni of Purdue’s online Master of Science in Communication degree program. The program can be completed in just 20 months and covers numerous topics critical for advancement in the communication industry, including crisis communication, social media engagement, focus group planning and implementation, survey design and survey analysis, public relations theory, professional writing, and communication ethics.

About the Author
Stefanie Leiter is a May 2016 graduate of Purdue University earning a 4.0 GPA in the master's of science communication program. She is a graduate of Anderson University (Indiana) with a bachelor of arts degree in mass communications with a specialization in public relations. Stefanie serves as the director of content strategy and public relations at her alma mater.

During her 11 years at AU, previous roles include web editor, web content manager, and manager of online communications.

Stefanie serves as an adjunct professor in the department of communication and design arts at AU and is a member of the Higher Ed Web Association. She also earned a graduate certificate in strategic communication from Purdue University in 2015.

Stefanie lives with her best friend, Dave, and their two adorable, young children.

*The views and opinions expressed are of the author and do not represent the Brian Lamb School of Communication.